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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Mercer

Documentary Highlights Grassroots Efforts to Save Historic Resources



Over 100 historic preservation supporters gathered at Newark Symphony Hall on March 4th to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Preservation New Jersey’s “10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey” list, and to watch the premiere of the mini-documentary celebrating grassroots efforts to save NJ’s historic resources.


Since 1995, Preservation New Jersey (PNJ) has been compiling annually its “10 Most” list, spotlighting the state’s irreplaceable historic, architectural, cultural, and archaeological resources that are in imminent danger of being lost. The 10 Most 25th Anniversary Gala celebrated this 25-year milestone and brings continued attention to the fragile existence of New Jersey’s historic resources. Premiering at the gala, the documentary – “Saved or Lost Forever” – tells the story of New Jersey’s places that have been part of significant events and periods in our state’s history, discusses their importance to our collective past, and the fights to rescue these historic properties from extinction. The documentary focuses on three sites recognized on PNJ’s 10 Most list – Camden High School, Romer Shoal Light, and the Van Wagenen/Apple Tree House. The 10 Most documentary was supported through a project grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.


“This is far more than a battle to save a building or a track of land for nostalgic reasons. It is a fight related to the economic and cultural well-being of our state and all of its residents. We are enhancing the vitality and heritage of New Jersey’s diverse communities,” said Courtenay Mercer, Executive Director of PNJ. “The documentary stars the endangered properties that have no voice but have moving stories to tell. Preservation New Jersey lends a voice to these properties that need to be rescued,” she said.


Newark Symphony Hall – the location of the PNJ gala – has its own compelling story to broadcast. Taneshia Nash Laird, President and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall, stated in her remarks at the Gala, “Newark Symphony Hall was one of the 10 Most Endangered Places in New Jersey and we’re distinguished as one of New Jersey’s most comprehensive and respected centers for promoting arts, education, and entertainment and making a great impact on empowering the lives of citizens of Newark and New Jersey since 1925.” She also stated that Newark Symphony Hall has begun a $50 million capital campaign and thanked the public officials in attendance, State Senator Teresa Ruiz and Newark Central Ward Councilmember LaMonica McIver, for their support of a State Historic Tax Credit that could help fund much-needed renovations.


PNJ President, Barton Ross, also thanked State Senator Teresa Ruiz for her sponsorship of a State Historic Tax Credit bill (S412). “Despite over a decade of advocacy by PNJ and its partners, NJ remains one of only 13 states that does not have statewide enabling legislation for this proven preservation tool,” said Ross. “We will continue to work with the legislature and Governor’s office to get this critical piece of legislation passed in this legislative cycle.”


Since 1978, Preservation New Jersey, New Jersey’s only statewide private membership-supported historic preservation organization, has been waging a grassroots campaign to raise awareness of New Jersey’s irreplaceable historic places that are in imminent danger of being lost. Preservation New Jersey launches education, communications, and advocacy initiatives fueled by an unwavering commitment to eliminate the threat to New Jersey’s historic resources. PNJ, a 501c3 non-profit, depends upon support from the public to fight the battle ensuring the future of the endangered historic treasures in the state.

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