Status: Progress Made
11/2010: 1759 Vought House has applied for a New Jersey Historic Trust grant to fund initial planning for emergency stabilization of the property.
3/2011: 1759 Vought House, Inc. has secured a $30,000 New Jersey Historic Trust grant to help fund the preparation of a prioritized conditions assessment and the development of a vision plan for the future use of the building.
2/2012: 1759 Vought House will officially take title to the Vought House this month! The group will then be free and clear to move forward with stabilization work and restoration.
3/2012: 1759 Vought House, Inc. has officially taken title to the 1759 Vought House.The group will now begin working to restore and rehabilitate the house to accommodate a museum and educational center.
The Vought House is a two and a half story stone house located on the grounds of the new Clinton Township Middle School. The house is owned by the Clinton Township Board of Education.
Built in 1759 by Christoffel Vought, a second-generation German immigrant, the house is a prime example of a mid eighteenth-century farmhouse in the western part of New Jersey. The house is framed with heavy timbers and finished with wattle and daub (a clay and mud plaster application of wood lattice work) construction, which is mostly intact. Also extant are remarkable decorative plaster finishes on the ceilings, patterned with geometric designs. The house was originally part of a 258-acre homestead.
Christoffel Vought was a well-known loyalist during the Revolutionary War. In 1776, he took a strong stand against the rebellion. Volunteering to fight with the British, in 1778 he unsuccessfully led a team of 50-60 loyalists to join up with the British Army. Vought was subsequently captured. A Jury of Inquisition found him guilty, and the Voughts went into exile in Nova Scotia while their house, land, and possessions were sold at auction.
The Vought House is a significant landmark in the complex story of the Revolutionary War in New Jersey. Loyalist sympathies were common in central New Jersey and this structure played a key role in that story. The Vought family was prominent in the community and their experiences are representative of life in Colonial and Revolutionary Hunterdon County. The building is also remarkably intact and exhibits rare historical construction methods and craftsmanship.
Five years ago, the Clinton Township Board of Education purchased the property, including the Vought House, as the proposed site of a new school. The Board of Education has approved a transfer of title to a non-profit organization, 1759 Vought House, after a contentious and public negotiation. The transfer is pending the execution of a property subdivision and a preservation easement by the Board of Education, as required by the State Historic Preservation Office. In the meantime, very little beyond basic stabilization has occurred. The house is threatened with water infiltration, potential vandalism and further deterioration of the decorative plaster finishes, all common afflictions to unoccupied structures. Once the title is transferred, 1759 Vought House will begin a capital campaign for the restoration and adaptive reuse of the building. 1759 Vought House plans to convert the house into an interpretive center.
The slow progress and funding challenges faced by the Vought House are representative of similar challenges faced by properties throughout New Jersey. Although this house has thus far averted the imminent threat of demolition, as progress lags, the threat of continuous deterioration remains. Further, this property highlights the multi-step nature of preservation: the house’s future ownership looks promising, however, the greater challenge of funding, programming, and maintenance and stewardship will still remain. The current economic climate has significantly diminished preservation funding opportunities, compounding the hurdles that projects must conquer in order to succeed.
Don Sherblom President, 1759 Vought House, Inc.