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  • Writer's pictureKelly C. Ruffel

Recap Historic Preservation Awards 2023

On November 30, 2023, with a sold-out event of 125 guests, Preservation New Jersey (‘PNJ’) hosted its 2023 New Jersey Historic Preservation Awards event at Masker’s Barn in Berkeley Heights, Union County, New Jersey. The event honored 14 awardees for excellence in preservation.


Each year, PNJ recognizes those institutions and individuals that have sustained historic preservation through stewardship of public and private historic sites. Awardees across several categories were chosen by an independent awards jury comprised of preservation professionals from out of state. Selections were based on the following criteria: public impact on the community, region, or state; quality and/or creativity of effort; broadened public awareness of history and historic preservation; increased partnerships to support history and historic preservation; and the quality of the submission. 


Attendees enjoyed networking during the reception as well as food catered by The Brownstone of Paterson, New Jersey. PNJ Board President Paul Muir along with members of the Board of Trustees presented the program and distributed the awards.


Award winner Steven Smolyn, AIA shared, “receiving the 2023 Preservation Documents Award is an honor that acknowledges our collaborative efforts with Cape May to make historic preservation guidance more accessible. This recognition is a testament to Architectural Heritage Consultants' expertise in developing responsive historic design guidelines to help municipalities across New Jersey maintain their unique historical characters.”  Smolyn represented Architectural Heritage Consultants alongside members of the City of Cape May Historic Preservation Commission who were honored with the prestigious 2023 Preservation Documents Award for its comprehensive update of the Historic Design Standards. 


Another category honored was the Doris Carpenter Award for achievements in education and advocacy on historic preservation of buildings and other structures of significance in the African American community. PNJ presents this award in Ms. Carpenter’s legacy to an individual, organization, or project which contributes to a greater understanding of New Jersey’s diverse populations through history.  


The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum was honored in this category, for its mission to interpret the history of the African American community and for its rich contributions to the Sourland Mountain Region of western-central New Jersey.  The Museum is housed within the historic Mt. Zion AME Church in Montgomery, a one-room church building constructed in 1899.  Despite a dwindling congregation, the building remained in use as a worship space throughout the twentieth century, only closing in 2005.  The concept of restoring and reusing the building as a museum followed shortly thereafter. The Mount Zion AME Church offers an important physical link to the social and cultural history of the region and assists the museum in telling the story of this place and its people.  Its restoration and reuse also remind us that preservation efforts should not be limited to large, highly decorated, and celebrated structures, but must include the more simple, quiet, often practical buildings in which we all live our own important singular and collective histories. 


“The Doris Carpenter Award means a great deal to the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum.  It is a recognition and validation of their work to educate the public about the experiences and the contributions of the African American community in the Sourland region.  We were pleased to be the architect for the restoration of the one room church to become a museum, and are honored and grateful for this prestigious award from Preservation New Jersey,” shared by Michael J. Mills, FAIA Partner of Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC.


In addition, several project awardees were given for unique sites with fascinating and significant histories.


The Baker Theater which opened in 1906 in Dover, New Jersey, was considered the finest playhouse in the entire State and was a major stop for the vaudeville entertainment circuit hosting notables such as Helen Hayes, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Lou Costello, and Harry Houdini. The iconic marquee was severely damaged from high winds during a storm in 2020.  Using historic photographs and existing field measurements, CTS Group was able to create drawings and renderings replicating the original marquee. The “CTS Group is proud and grateful to be recognized by our fellow preservationists at Preservation New Jersey with the 2023 Preservation Craftsmanship Award for our architectural work on the Baker Theatre Marquee in Dover’s Blackwell Street Historic District.  This restoration was a team effort whose success was also achieved through the client’s and contractor’s commitment to the highest level of craftsmanship in the re-creation of this critical historic feature on one of Dover’s key historic buildings,” said William C. Slack, AIA, RIBA, PP, LEED AP, Principal.


“Receiving the 2023 Preservation Project Award for the restoration of the Ellis Island Recreation Pavilion is truly an honor. It is an affirmation of both the historic significance of the site, and the care taken in its restoration. Thank you, Preservation New Jersey!” shared by Mark Thaler, AIA, NCARB, Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation. The Recreation Shelter on the south side of Ellis Island is a modest but elegant building that once provided a place of outdoor respite to the immigrant patients confined to Ellis Island due to illness.  Completed in 1937, the building was abandoned in 1954 when the Ellis Island United States Immigration Station ceased operation.  By the end of the 20th century, the buildings on the south side of Ellis Island were in serious disrepair.  In 1999, Save Ellis Island, Inc. became a partner of the National Park Service with the mission of saving these important buildings that help tell the story of American Immigration.  Following the restoration of other buildings and connecting corridors, in 2014 work on the Recreation Shelter began.  Today, this important part of our history has been restored and visitors to Ellis Island can see this example of how restoration can highlight our history.


This event was supported and sponsored by all of the amazing and enthusiastic attendees, and our partners at HMR Architects, Clarke Caton Hintz, John O’Hara Company, Lear & Pannepacker LLP, The Old House Guy, LLC., and Paul & Dawn Muir.

 2023 NJ Historic Preservation Award Winners


Young Preservationist Award

James Giresi


David H. Knights New Preservation Initiatives Award

City of Camden & Heritage Consulting, Inc. - City of Camden Heritage Tourism Interactive Touchscreen Display Wall Project


Sarah P. Fiske Legacy & Leadership Award

  • Louis Borbi

  • Daniel Bernier


Dr. Doris C. Carpenter Excellence Award

  • Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum & Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC – Restoration of Mount Zion AME Church


Preservation Craftsmanship Award

  • CTS Group Architecture/Planning PA – Baker Theatre Marquee Restoration Project

  • Rich Sudol & Brian Munroe – Residential Restorations


Preservation Project Award

  • Hx2 Development LLC & Clarke Caton Hintz - Princeton Hydro at Building 110 in the Roebling Wireworks Restoration

  • City of Paterson, Hinchliffe Master Urban Renewal, LP, Clarke Caton Hintz, Pike Construction Co. LLC, and Paterson Board of Education - Restoration & Rehabilitation of Hinchliffe Stadium

  • Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation - Restoration of the Ellis Island Recreation Pavilion

  • South Orange Village & Landmark Hospitality - South Orange Village Hall Restoration


Preservation Documents Award

City of Cape May – Historic Design Standards Update & Outreach Project


Honorable Mentions

  • Friends of the Howe House

  • Town of Westfield - Union Company Newsstand Restoration Project




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