By John Burton
LITTLE SILVER – The Parker Homestead barns are getting much-needed renovation work.
Work has begun on the restoration of the three antique and dilapidated barns at the historic 235 Rumson Road location.
“It’s taken time to get the momentum going, but we’re moving now,” said Keith Wells, a Little Silver resident who is one of the three trustees of the Parker Homestead-1665 not-for-profit committee working on the site’s preservation.
Nickels Contracting of Haddon Heights, a firm specializing in historic restoration, is doing the work on the site’s three barns. The work is “pretty much top to bottom,” Wells said.
The contractor is working to install new roofs on the three buildings and “the foundations need repair,” Wells said. Plans also call for replacing siding as needed and whatever work has to be done on the structural beams to ensure the buildings’ stability, Wells said.
The work is expected to take approximately 90 days to complete, he said.
The work is the latest development in a plan to renovate, restore and preserve the Parker Homestead, which consists of the three barns and main farmhouse, and is located on property that remained in the hands of the Parker family and its decedents for most of its nearly 350 years.
Other work that needs to be completed involves the installation of what Wells called a “state-of-the-art” security system to protect the site’s structures.
Borough officials awarded the contract for the system to Complete Security Systems, Marlboro, which will be paid for through donations from an account managed by the borough, said deputy borough clerk Sharon Kavendek.
So far the contractor has done $3,960 of work and $2,320 may be allocated for additional features, Kavendek said.
The system will have sensors to detect fire, smoke, heat, water and intrusion. There also will be a temperature sensor in the unoccupied farmhouse for the winter to alert authorities should the heat go out and place water lines at risk of freezing, Wells said.
The barn renovations are possible because of a $250,000 grant from the Monmouth County Open Space Fund, which requires the borough to provide matching funds, Wells said.
It’s an exciting time for the site and its proponents. After years of languishing, preservation work is finally proceeding for the historically significant site. “Things are really beginning to move,” Wells said.
The Parker Homestead encompasses about 10 acres, dating back to 1665, the earliest days of the area’s settling. It was continuously owned by Parker family members until the death of Julia Parker in 1995. She donated the site to the borough with the stipulation it be preserved for historical and educational uses.
Last December, the committee was able to open portions of the farmhouse to the public after it completed some work stabilizing the structure and renovating the first floor area.
In April, when plans were in the works to start work on the three barns, Richard Veit, an anthropology professor at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, took some timber samples to determine the structures’ ages. Wells said those findings are expected any day.