The fate of The Gulick House in Lawrence Township once again moved to the forefront as its owner, Care One LLC, applied again for a demolition permit in November 2015. The application was presented at a meeting chaired by the Lawrence Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (HPAC). The committee denied the permit 4-1, with the expectation that the decision would be appealed. The appeal hearings began on April 20th at a meeting of the zoning board but adjourned before a final decision could be rendered. The application was ultimately denied.
I was notified of the proceedings by our local consortium of preservation individuals and asked to attend to give testimony based on my extensive involvement with the house, and the fact that I received a Certification of Eligibility in 2013 for the national and state historic registers based on criterion C for architectural significance. Care One’s counsel had put forth at the meeting that the house is not historically significant based on a 1987 report stating that it was best not to rely solely on architectural significance. However, the certification letter I received from the NJ Historic Preservation Office in July of 2013 takes that argument off the table.
That significant accomplishment is part of my vision for and the important work of the 19th Century House Project. While neither the certification nor a successful registers nomination can prevent demolition, it is a step in the right direction. With the backing of the State and the publicity the certification afforded in garnering support of the citizenry, it gives a lot more weight to our efforts. Local support is the most important element of campaigning to save a historic structure.
Fast forward to 2019. Two years ago, members of our 501(c) non-profit group, Friends of The Gulick House, came to a tentative agreement with representatives of Care One, LLC, whereby Care One would donate the house to ours or another local entity and move the house to the north end of the property and where to would be restored and preserved. The building would be owned and maintained by us (or another group yet to be determined), rented out for functions and events and open to the public for tours. Care One would then be approved to build their proposed professional care facility on the remainder of the property.
These negotiations take time to bring to fruition and it seemed to me in the past two years that the aforementioned agreement must have stalled. But my recent discussions in May 2019 with my friend and fellow FOTGH member, Max Hayden (the architect overseeing the restoration), I learned that the deal is still on the table and in progress. So, that was good news.
I just drove by the house last week (in August now) and it looks more deteriorated but I know the interior structure is strong. Still, we’re racing against time so I hope things begin to move forward again soon.
Since my last entry above there has been no further significant development with the house, to the best of my knowledge. As is typical with these projects things move slowly and progress creeps along. It could be mired in more political wrangling—I don’t know. My goal with the project was to try and get the house protected from demolition (no one had done anything previously, which surprised me; I was the first) so that the properly qualified parties could take the ball and run with it. I accomplished that by obtaining a Certification of Eligibility for the historic registers from the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office, and getting local people involved who could negotiate with Care One. Connected and knowledgeable parties could also attend planing board meetings to make motions against demolition as such attempts seem to come up every few years. A certification for the historic registers (and even a nomination) doesn’t protect a property form being demolished, but I felt it was a step in the right direction and a major accomplishment for me (and the house!). The document is an official recognition by the State that the house is historically significant based on ‘Criterion C’ for architectural significance.
No one involved with the Friends of The Gulick House has contacted me or responded to my emails for the past 2 years so I have no idea of where the project sits. I’ve been past the house a couple of times recently and it’s still in the same state. There is one other member I can reach out to for an update…
You can read more about the Gulick House in my blog post HERE.
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