3/2010: Ownership of the historic district was successfully transferred in full to the Township. Volunteers worked to eliminate the fungus infestations and completely repaint the interiors and exteriors of all 11 buildings. Volunteers continue to clean, repair, and landscape the site on a regular basis. Through these efforts, InfoAge has restored three of the Marconi Wireless transatlantic station buildings, five World War II radar laboratory buildings, and an early space age satellite tracking control building. These buildings have become InfoAge, a Science/History Learning Center and Museum. Along with permanent exhibits, volunteers interpret the site for the public, helping visitors understand the early history of communications technology. Camp Evans is now designated a “Preserve America Steward” through the Federal “Preserve America Program.”
For much of the 20th century, Camp Evans was at the center of the communications revolution. In 1912, the property was the East Coast link in Guglielmo Marconi’s global communications network. In World War II, and for decades thereafter, it was a secret research laboratory run by the Army Signal Corps where many types of radar, including weather radar, were developed. In 1947, electronic signals from Camp Evans were bounced off the moon, demonstrating that messages from Earth could reach a spacecraft.
The Base Realignment and Closure program (BRAC) got the 100-acre site in its sights in 1998, and it is now being readied by the Army Corps of Engineers for transfer to civilian owners. Under the terms of a complex deal, part of the facility will go to Brookdale Community College, while the rest of the land is slated for Wall Township. Most of the historic buildings, including Marconi’s hotel and house, are to be occupied by an educational nonprofit, the Information Age Learning Center, which will fittingly emphasize electronics and telecommunications.
But the Army has been addressing a contamination issue by removing offending sewer lines with no evident intention of replacing them in violation of BRAC rules. The historic buildings will be useless without utilities.
If the issue is not resolved, the deal could collapse, leaving this property a potential National Historic Landmark with an uncertain fate.
The Army Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) office has completed phase one of the sewer repairs within the Camp Evans Historic District. Thanks to the public outcry and support generated by PNJ placing Camp Evans on its 2002 Most Endangered List the BRAC office reconsidered its refusal to provide this basic utility. After being reminded of the the Army’s legal responsibility to maintain the historic site, the Army has agreed to remove some damaged materials, surface clean others and remove asbestos from the site. Meanwhile, transfer of the first 16 acres, including four 1914 Marconi Wireless Station buildings, the WWII Project Diana site, and TIROS I & II NASA Ground Control Station to the Township is imminent. The balance of the historic district is expected to be transferred in 2005 pending ongoing negotiations with the BRAC office.