3/2011: The property was purchased by South Brunswick-area developer Michael Sassman in October 2010. He began work on the house immediately and expects to complete restoration in July 2011. He has completed numerous historic property restorations and rehabilitations in South Brunswick and is working closely with the South Brunswick Historic Preservation Commission to ensure that the architectural integrity of the building is kept intact.
The Hoagland-Clark House, commonly known as the Clark House, is a remarkably intact Dutch vernacular farmhouse likely dating to the third quarter of the 18th century. From wills, it appears to have been built and owned by Abraham Hoagland, Sr., who conveyed it to his son Elbert in 1793. The Hoagland’s owned the property through much of the 19th century. The house’s current common name is associated with the Clark family, who owned the house from 1962 until approximately 1997.
The Hoagland-Clark House is a 1 and ½ story frame structure. It has stone foundations, end wall chimneys, and a centrally located entrance door. Additions, including a lean-to kitchen, shed dormers and a front porch likely date to the 19th century. The exterior walls are now covered with wood shingles which were probably applied over original beaded clapboards. The interior contains many original elements including massive wood beams, a stone fireplace, historic wood floors, doors, and windows.
The farmhouse sits on just over ½ acre of land. Although its agricultural context has been lost, the house is a historic landmark in the midst of a suburban development. Significantly, the developers of the surrounding development sought to preserve the building, even though they built many new houses on the farmland surrounding the property. This historic dwelling is a source of pride to the community, as it has been from the time of its construction. It is very worthy of preservation and care.
Up until 1999, the farmhouse was well cared for by a succession of owners. Unfortunately, after a family death in 1999, the owners at the time struggled to keep up with maintenance on the building. The property was sold to an absentee owner in 2008 and has been vacant since that time. The house has fallen into disrepair and neglect. Currently, the property is undergoing foreclosure. Because of the now quickening deterioration of the property, the future of the building is uncertain.
Locally, no one opposes the preservation of this relic of the early history of South Brunswick; and in fact, Kendall Park residents have banded together to express their concern for the future of the Clark House. South Brunswick has a municipal historic preservation ordinance, and the house was locally designated in February of 2010. Municipal authorities are now able to regulate changes made to the property. However, the house remains vacant, and deterioration is advancing. Further, the process of foreclosure is moving slowly, and there are no known future plans for this site.
The Hoagland-Clark house is a significantly intact remnant of the early settlement of South Brunswick, and an interesting example of a historic landmark that survived sprawling surrounding development. PNJ encourages the efforts of the property’s neighbors and the South Brunswick Historic Preservation Commission to advocate for the preservation of this property, and hopes that via the combined efforts of the neighborhood, the municipality, and the bank that will soon own the site, a solution that preserves the historic character of the Hoagland-Clark House can be found. There are opportunities for further substantive protection of this resource, such as the donation of a preservation easement on the house, however, a sensitive buyer must first be found. Stabilization to halt the deterioration of the property is the more immediate concern, and options for this should be investigated immediately.