To the Editor:
I strongly agree with the need to preserve Horton Mansion, a building on the Sussex County College Campus that is 160 years old. I am part of the committee, working with Wayne McCabe, of the Newton Historical Society, and Mr. Fritsch, of the Sussex County Historical Society, to save Horton Mansion, and preserve it for college and related functions. Wayne has crafted a document that provides many of the steps needed for short term, and long term renovation. There is great talent on our committee, and, I feel lucky to be involved with such talent and community spirit.
It is not the intention of the Committee to burden taxpayers or students with this project. The moratorium not to destruct the building, if granted, would allow us under the auspices of the above historical societies to come up with funding, grants or other mechanism for a number of purposes for building utility. The question might be why save such a structure? Here is my take on saving it besides all the purposes and needs we see for the building. The structure has a number of architectural historical footnotes, but there is more. The past is not the property of historians alone, as a wise sage noted. It belongs to all of us! At one of the College Green Concerts, I met a descendant of the Horton’s! It is important for him, but also for us!
I am a great fan of Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath”, and I have always identified with Tom Joad, a central character, but in his work Steinbeck pictures a group of Oklahoma farm wives loading their goods for their trip to California. They know they cannot load everything into their old car, and must discard items. The central quote from the women is listed here: “How can we live without our lives? How will we know it is us without our past?” (Steinbeck). Indeed, we have a similar question, don’t we?
There is so much history in that building, which predates Lincoln and his turbulent times. We now live in the most turbulent times of our lives! “We do not choose between the past and the future; they are inseparable parts of the same river.” The Committee headed by Wayne is in its infancy, and the mission is to save the building, and again make it vibrant. The moratorium is needed, and there will be progress. Keep the faith, and keep the past.
Bill Weightman, Member of Committee to Save Horton Mansion
Hardyston, NJ 973-960-7728
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