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Historical Society Completes the Brick Academy
Top Floor Restoration Effort

Top Floor Dedication held Sunday, November 10, 2008.The Somerset Hills – Although the Brick Academy started life as a “classical” school – a prep-school of that age – in 1809, the longest continuous use of the building was as the first public school serving Bernards Township from 1851 through 1902.  During that period, as enrollment grew, the students were divided by age groups with the older children assigned to the main floor of the building and the younger ones being taught on the top floor.  But the classroom on the top floor was lost during the city hall period, 1948 through 1968, when it was subdivided into offices and storage space.

Over the past five years, with the aid of grants from the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission, a part of the Somerset County Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund and considerable contributions from our members, the Historical Society has restored the rooms on the top floor to their turn-of-the-century condition.

The effort has been an ongoing long term project supported and funded by so many people and organizations. Back in 2004, a dedicated steering committee was created including THSSH President Dan Lincoln, Historic Preservation Committe Chair Ann Parsekian, and THSSH Chair Marcella Standing around the pot belly stove are Historical Society Chair Marcella Miccolis and Top Floor Project Manager Joe RyderMiccolis. Ann Parsekian prepared all of the various grant applications while Dan Lincoln prepared the estimate for the first grant. Historical Society board member Joe Ryder prepared the estimates for the second grant application, and also served as the project manager for the top floor project.

There were also a number of additional people and organizations involved with the restoration effort. Mark Hewitt from Hewitt Associates in Bernardsville was hired as architect. Mark Alan Hewitt, who is well known for his involvement with historic projects including Craftsman Farms National Historic Landmark, was selected to prepare plans to restore the historic appearance.

Scott Ross from Ross Construction was the General Contractor for the restoration effort. A special thanks also goes out to THSSH member Doug Hiscano who did a good deal of the original demolition work stripping down the 20th century floor and walls.

Two Grants that Made Everything Possible

Pictured is the Top Floor before the restoration of the Schoolhouse floor restoration beganHistoric Preservation Committe Chair Ann Parsekian prepared our first grant. Historical Society board member Joe Ryder prepared the estimates for the second grant

Applications are submitted to the office of the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission.Copies will then be distributed to the Historic Preservation Grant Program Advisory Committee who will review and rate each application based on definitive rating and eligibility criteria. The recommendations of the Committee will be forwarded to the Cultural and Heritage Commission, who will also review the applications and make a final recommendation to the Board of Chosen Freeholders. Projects are funded based on availability of funds in the Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. See complete guidelines...more

Phase 1 / First Grant - On April 24, 2004, the Township Committee of the Township of Bernards authorized submission of a grant application by the Historical Society of the Somerset Hills to the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission for an Historic Preservation Grant in the amount of $74,460. Bernards Township contributed $2,195 and THSSH raised $17,390 for insulation. For the purpose of undertaking the Second Phase of the Restoration of the Top Floor of the Brick Academy, see the township resolution.

The Top Floor of the Brick Academy as the restoration effort continued.Phase 2 of the restoration effort continued as an additional $41,850 grant from Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission was requested since the first grant was sufficient to fund only the first phase of the project. The complete restoration cost more than $130,000 in total. The Society allocated $30,000 of its own funds; and requested special donations from THSSH members and sought out additional grant funding in order to complete the restoration effort.

The $41,850 grant was approved for the project by the Somerset County Cultural & Historical Commission. The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills funded $1,474 of its own funds to help support the effort for additional items that were needed to fully complete the project.


Next for the Top Floor

Period Desks recreate the vision of the early 19th Century Schoolhouse where an entire set of new history programs will be held at the Brick AcademyThe Historical Society of the Somerset Hills is now are engaged in an effort to fulfill our vision for this space by obtaining authentic period furniture and other school paraphernalia to create a true depiction of school life of the period.  Our intent is to use this newly created space to host students from near-by schools for programs on local history and the one-room-school-house experience. 

If you think you have any 19th century education related material or furniture that you would like to contribute to our effort, please look at our "wish list" below. Click Here

To see the newly restored top floor please stop in during our normal Sunday open-houses held every Sunday at the Brick Academy.

Submitted: Joe Ryder
September 23, 2008
Updated: November 11, 2008

Help Us Restore the Schoolhouse
back to the 1905 period

The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills has restored the Brick Academy schoolhouse to it's circa 1905 period, and now we need to fill it with pieces from the early 1900 era.

If you know of, or can locate any of the items below, drop us a call or a note (Click Here).

Teacher’s chair
Reproduction Apples (for teacher’s desk)
Straight Pen
Ink well
Wooden ruler
Portraits (e.g. Washington)
Charts (e.g. alphabet, numbers)
Class Register (for attendance, subjects studied & disciplinary records)
Teachers’ certificates and contracts
Certificates of Achievement for Pupils
Free-standing chalkboard
Rags (used with wooden blocks as erasers)
United States map
Pupils’ desks (wood – double size: 37-39” wide)
Recitation bench
Hand slates & slate pencils
Dunce cap
Pupil’s lunch pail
Recess Games (marbles, wooden toys)
School Bell

Pieces must be from the early 1900's

Drop us a call or a note (Click Here).

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