PO Box 61
Metuchen, New Jersey 08840-0061
May 15, 2001
In conjunction with the nationwide celebration of National Historic Preservation Week beginning May 13-19, 2001, the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society has named five significant local sites as Endangered. The list is comprised of structures and sites in the Metuchen-Edison area whose future as area landmarks is threatened due to either decay and lack of maintenance or impending demolition. Concern for some of these sites has inspired various grassroots organizations to form and work towards their preservation. The Metuchen-Edison Historical Society applauds these efforts and encourages its members and area citizens to make their concerns about these and other sites known.
The five sites, as unanimously approved at the April 30, 2001 Metuchen-Edison Historical Society Executive Board meeting, are as follows:
Edison Tower, and Edison State Park Tower, Edison
The Edison Tower was built in 1937 and is in need of major repairs. The Portland cement exterior is falling off and the sound system no longer works. Owned by the State and maintained by Edison Township, the Tower has mostly relied on entities such as the Edison Pioneers and Stevens Institute of Technology for funding and maintenance. The site also contains foundations of Thomas Edison workshops, where the light bulb, phonograph, and many other modern conveniences were invented. The site is currently listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.
Light Dispelling Darkness Fountain in Roosevelt Park, Edison
Light Dispelling Darkness, created by WPA ceramicist Waylande Gregory, is a unique, Depression-era fountain made from ceramics and cast concrete. It was conceived as a tribute to Thomas Edisons industrial progress and the cooperation between education, labor, and industry. Although the fountain is currently in disrepair, the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission is studying its possible restoration.
Metuchen Borough Hall, Metuchen
Built in 1924 at the intersection of Main Street and Middlesex Avenue, Borough Hall was designed by accomplished architect and local resident Clement W. Fairweather and was named to the National Register of Historic Places on May 14, 2001. Borough Hall is in direct danger of being demolished by Metuchens current leadership to make way for a new building. If the destruction and redevelopment of the Franklin School site is any guide, the replacement structure will overpower the site.
Oak Tree Pond Revolutionary War Battle Site, Edison
Local residents have led a two year ongoing struggle to save this environmentally sensitive pond and revolutionary war battle site from becoming a Walgreens strip mall. This group has researched and proven the site to be that of the opening engagement of the June 26, 1777 Battle of Short Hills. The site was recently declared eligible for the New Jersey & National Register of Historic Places by the NJ State Historic Preservation Office.
Roosevelt Hospital, Edison
Constructed in the 1930's as a state of the art tuberculosis hospital, this magnificent Depression-era structure sits on a hill overlooking the lake in Roosevelt Park. Currently the Middlesex County Freeholders are planning for its demolition. Through a citizens groups efforts, this structure has also been declared eligible for the NJ & National Register of Historic Places by the NJ State Historic Preservation Office and is in the process of review for listing.
While this is a list of only 5 sites, it does not reflect all of the threats to important older structures in this area of Middlesex County. The Metuchen-Edison Historical society is concerned about the trend of the decline and destruction of many older homes and public buildings that have defined our communities for years. When each of these is demolished, the community loses a connection with the past. If this trend continues, our only link will be the fading photographs in local historical society collections.
National Historic Preservation Week is sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization chartered by Congress in 1949 with more than a quarter million members. For more information, visit the National Trust's Web site at www.nationaltrust.org.
The Metuchen-Edison Historical Society was founded in 1974. For more information about these sites in Edison and Metuchen, contact Walter Stochel Jr. at 732-906-0529.