Good Morning and thanks for coming. My name is John Campbell and I am president of the Friends of the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead. We are here to celebrate an exciting project that is succeeding due to cooperative efforts of County government, Township government and local citizen volunteers.
Two reasons why we all care about the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead
History – This farmstead on the banks of the Passaic River was homesteaded my Nathanial Rolfe in 1740. The first part of the farm house was built about 1750, with several significant additions over the next 100 years. (If any of you wants to hear more about the Farm House I can take you for a tour after our program here.) This English Barn we are standing in was built sometime between 1770 and 1800, as was the Wagon house across the circular drive from the Farm House
Samuel Kennedy lived here in the 1760’s while he started a classical school on this site. The mission of his school was to prepare young men to attend Queens College, which later became Princeton University. His school was the precursor of the prep school that moved to the Brick Academy in Basking Ridge in 1809. Samuel Kennedy was also a medical doctor and he served for over 20 years as the fourth pastor of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.
Ephraim Martin was the next owner of this farm and he was living here by 1777. He became a colonel in the Continental Army. He was wounded in the Battle of Long Island and again at the Battle of Monmouth. In 1779 he was elected to the upper house of the new state legislature where he played a major role in guiding through the first ten amendments to the new United States Constitution. Largely due to his efforts, New Jersey because the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
Atmosphere- The farm has been in agricultural use from 1740 until it was purchased by the Township in 1999. This assemblage of historic buildings in their pastoral setting is a vivid reminder of the pervasive agricultural atmosphere which shaped the lives and outlook of people in this region of New Jersey during the formative years of our country. Progressing down the 1000 foot lane is a journey back into time to the quiet, contemplative atmosphere of a bygone era.
How we got to where we are
Bernards Township bought this Farmstead in 1999 as part of a 36 acre tract, using funds raised by municipal open space taxes. The Township Committee designated a four acre Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead tract.
Two volunteer citizens groups have been working on this project.
Kennedy Farmstead Task Force was the first group. It was appointed by the Township Committee In January, 2002 to serve until June 2004 to develop a vision for adaptive uses and a plan to provide the financial means for preserving the Farmstead. This task Force worked with our Township Engineer to write a grant application. As a result – Somerset County provided a grant of $75,000 to fund development of a preservation plan, and to stabilize the English Barn, the building we are in right now. The preservation plan was completed by Michael Calafati of Historic Building Architects and Dennis Bertland, a historic preservation consultant, in December of 2002. This document provided the basis for success in listing of the Farmstead on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. And of course it forms the basis for all past and future funding requests and preservation planning.
Task Force Vision
Farmstead best suited for cultural arts pursuits. The Task Force consulted with Township residents, as well as local artists and organizations involved in cultural and fine arts. Based on this input the Task Force visualized the use of the English barn for the following pursuits:
Art exhibits, workshops, lectures, classes
Small theatrical performances & workshops involving minimal scenery
Small-group musical performances (moderate or low volume to spare neighbors)
Spoken word events, writer/author lectures and workshops;
Always retain unobstructed view of the interior of the English Barn. The middle section should be easily re-configurable, multipurpose space with movable seating, lighting & audio equipment, temporary wall partitions and stage equipment that is light in weight, unobtrusive and readily moveable. These two aspects of the vision became the basis for subsequent grant requests.
Friends of the KMS Farmstead – the second volunteer citizens group to work on this project is a not-for-profit, 501C3 organization, incorporated June 7, 2004.
To preserve, develop and operate the KMS Farmstead as a historic landmark in Bernards Township,
A nationally important site and educational resource
A potential venue for community arts and culture
A site that reminds our citizens of the agrarian life than molded the character of this area of New Jersey.
Somerset County government has provided encouragement and crucial funding from the very beginning of the Farmstead project – not only the $75,000 for the preservation plan and the initial stabilization of the English Barn, but also the following: $14,000 for emergency stabilization of the Wagon House which was damaged by the micro-burst wind-storm which struck this area of Bernards Township.
Two additional grants, one for $200,000 and a second for $110.000 for the English Barn to bring it to the condition in which you see it today. (The largest single grant for historic preservation that had ever been awarded by Somerset County.)
Total Somerset County funding = $399,000
Bernards Township has also contributed a lot to the Farmstead project:
Removal of Dairy Barn
Emergency stabilization of Piggery (Completed 7/12/04)
Removal of three non historic, late 19th C structures (from beside driveway)
Allocated $70,000 for future Farm House work.
Farmstead lease to the Friends of the KMS Farmstead for $1 per year
Funding for state grant application preparation (submitted 5/3/04)
Plans for next phase of Farmstead preservation
$440,000 NJ Historic Trust matching grant award to Bernards Township
English Barn — To paint the new siding (red with white trim) and to lay a cement floor. (A wood floor will be placed on top in later work.)
Farm House – To repair foundation walls and chimneys, to repair or replace basement beams and sills, to remove vinyl siding and repair & paint clapboard & trim, and to restore wooden sash and doors.
Wagon House — Demolish the one-story shed, repair underpinning and footings and perimeter sills, repair/replace roof rafters, structural posts and beams, wooden sash windows & exterior doors, replace shake roof, replace and paint the exterior siding.
$70,000 Bernards Township funding for Stabilization and Prevention of Loss for the Farmhouse. (BT March 2004)
When these projects are completed the English Barn, Farm House and Wagon House will all be in condition where they can be preserved indefinitely with normal maintenance. The interiors will not yet have been restored so they will not be fit for habitation and use.
The next phase of Friends of the KMS Farmstead activities:
Partner with cultural arts organizations to prepare grant application requests based on specific and detailed proposals for uses of the buildings to have them operated as a Cultural Arts Facility.
Further fund raising and grant requests.
The following people have been making all this happen.
Somerset County Freeholders
Rick Fontana, Director
Ken Scherer, Deputy Director
Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission
Margaret Davis, President
Phyllis Bouwman, Vice President
Phyllis Fittipaldi, Treasurer
H. Kels Swan
Ann Osterdale Rosenblum
(Peter Palmer – Freeholder Liaison)
Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission Manager
Somerset County Historic Sites Coordinator
Bernards Township Committee
Carolyn Kelly – Mayor
Bernards Township Engineer
Bernards Township Community Service
Michael Calafati – Historic Building Architects
Dennis Bertland – Historic Preservation Consultants
Sam Harris – Structural Engineer
Larry Plevy – Schtiller & Plevy
Kennedy Farmstead Task Force
Friends of the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead (incorporated)
Peter Wolfson – attorney pro bono, Department Head for Real Estate – Porzio, Bromberg & Newman
We already have 50 dues paying members
Comments from Mayor Carolyn Kelly
Comments from Freeholder Denise Coyle
Conclusion: Thank you all for coming