The Friends of the William Green Farmhouse seek its immediate stabilization. The house, located between Townhouses South and the baseball field, at 275 years old, is a historic landmark.
The two-story structure has been unoccupied since 1980 and has been rapidly deteriorating since. The College purchased the house around 1959. The earliest section of the house is dated circa 1717-30, with three other sections built in the 1780s, 1830s and 1920s. The house is an official landmark, and has been listed on the state and national registers of historic places since the 1970s.
A full restoration of the building was an estimated $1.2 million dollars in 2001, according to Anne Casano, spokesperson for the Friends. However, she said, the Friends don’t believe the College has the funds for a full restoration. “What we are asking is for the College to use the $500,000 that they have for immediate stabilization of the building.”
She cited a $500,000 grant from the New Jersey Educational Facilities Act (EFA), which grants money for school construction and renovation. Matt Golden, assistant director for Public Information for the office of College and Community Relations, said the EFA is an authority. “The College would get a bond issued, and if the Friends raised additional funding, then we would have used the money.”
“My understanding is that, years ago, when the Friends were pushing hard for renovation, they were applying for an external grant,” Golden said. The College responded to the Friends, saying, “if you get this grant, we will do a bond through the New Jersey Educational Facilities Act, and we would contribute, through this bond, another $500,000.”
However, he said the College never got the grant. “We spent a sufficient portion of the $500,000 on maintenance and architectural plans,” Golden said. “It was a situation where they were hoping to land the $700,000 and the administration at that time decided they would supply the additional funds that would put the program over the top, but that grant never came through. We’re still nowhere near the amount needed to renovate the structure.”
However, Bill O’Neal, vice president of the Friends of William Green Farmhouse said the organization was told that the Green Farmhouse’s share of the funds was $500,000.
“It was implied that this was part of a larger amount that (the College) received, but I can’t say with certainty if this is true,” he said.
In 2000, Gregory Bressler, at the time part of the office of Facilities Management planning, referred to the funds as being allocated to the stabilization of the house, according to O’Neal.
“At this point, we are open to any reasonable use that prevents further delays and the loss of the property,” he said.
“This discussion is now in its 28th year, to the best of my knowledge, and at considerable expense to the integrity of the house.”
Though the group has not actively sought donations, it has raised $1,500 in the past two years.
“Our purpose in forming was to assist the College in political ways, and they did not want us competing for funds they were seeking,” O’Neal said.
About $400 have been spent to date, primarily on state and federal forms and renewal fees.
“The College is amenable to doing something with the farmhouse,” Golden said, “but we don’t have the funding to do such a project.”
He explained what the College has done so far with the house.
“We have done some work on the facility such as repairing the roof, doing some maintenance, and putting up a fence to keep people away from it and help protect the facility,” Golden said. “However, in terms of a complete renovation, that’s not something that’s in the plans.”
The farmhouse was originally built by William Green II. It is now known as the home of William Green III, who served in George Washington’s army and also participated in the colonists’ victory at the Battle of Trenton in 1776.