The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) and the Sourland Conservancy have announced that the New Jersey Historic Trust (NJHT) has recommended a preservation grant for a Historic Site Management Project Plan, from the Preserve New Jersey Historic Preservation Fund, in the amount of $75,000, to support the two organizations’ jointly owned True Farmstead on Hollow Road in Skillman. The Garden State Preservation Trust was set to authorize the grant awards at its October meeting.
This grant will enable the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum to bring to light the significant contributions made by African American families to the history and culture of this region. The True family lived at the Farmstead from 1881 to 1994. Their contributions ranged from service in the Civil War to playing a crucial role in the life of the historic register-listed Mt. Zion AME Church and the historic Camp Meetings, held in support of Mt. Zion AME and the local community.
The grant will enable the Sourland Conservancy to provide a model for good land stewardship in the environmentally critical and sensitive Sourland Mountain Region. This component of the preservation plan will include elimination of invasive plants from the property, planting of indigenous plants, and creating spaces for demonstrations and workshops related to ecology, history, the relationship between the two, and social and environmental justice.
Donnetta Bishop-Johnson, SSAAM’s executive director stated, “This project will help to ‘fill in the blanks’ in American history, which will enable us to understand where we are today and how we can move forward to a more just, equitable, and inclusive future.”
"The Farmstead will provide a welcoming space for visitors to reconnect with nature,” said Laurie Cleveland, the Conservancy’s executive director. “We’re looking forward to designing traditional-looking landscaping using native plants and hosting educational events to encourage visitors, residents and businesses to take steps to sustain wildlife, reduce pollution and flooding, and improve human health.”
The Historic Site Management Project supported by this grant award will include a preservation plan, a condition assessment, a national register nomination, architectural plans, cost estimates, an archaeological investigation, a landscape report, a historic research report, a building system analysis, a disaster management plan, and ADA accessibility planning.
The Sourland Conservancy and SSAAM have worked in partnership for the past several years,” said Dante DiPirro, the Conservancy’s board president. “The unique and sensitive Sourland Mountain Region provides the context for this unique partnership. There is a deep and complicated relationship between the cultural landscape and the natural landscape of this Region.
“Our organizations are thrilled to receive this support for the restoration and preservation of the Farmstead structure and for stewardship of the Farmstead land. The True Farmstead will become a showcase in our region for the culture and contributions of the African American community,” explained John Buck, SSAAM’s Board President.
Work will begin on the True Farmstead Preservation Plan in 2023. Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC, of Princeton, will develop the preservation plan and oversee the Historic Site Management Projects. Steward Green LLC ,of Bridgewater, will prepare the True Farmstead Land Stewardship Plan. Hunter Research, Inc. of Trenton, will write the historic register nomination.