BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The township's Farmstead Arts _ which this season again has a full schedule of art shows and classes, and other activities such as a concert this Saturday _  would receive further improvements if the Friends of the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead are able to obtain a $245,400 grant that the group is seeking from Somerset County.

The Bernards Township Committee recently endorsed the Friends group's application to the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission for an Historic Preservation grant in the amount of $245,400 to improve the overall usability, accessibility and safety of the Farmstead Arts. The township-owned arts center is located off King George Road at the historic Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead property.

The non-profit Farmstead has received a number of grants in the past, including a dozen historic preservation grants from Somerset County totaling $1.5 million, to transform the old buildings on the property into an art gallery, public performance space, and to make other parts of the property open to visitors.

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Concert this Saturday

For example, the Farmstead has scheduled a concert for 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 12, "Broadway: the Next Generation." The concert will be held in the English barn on the property.

If the grant is obtained, the non-profit group plans to use the funds to improve overall safety and accessibility enhancements with parking spaces for disabled patrons, a walkway from the parking spaces and between the English Barn and cow shed that would also improve accessibility; add a reinforced concrete slab and electrical service to the cow shed; and creating a useable space such as a terrace over the original dairy barn foundation.

Fine and performing artists and practical arts practitioners are already using the Farmhouse and English barn for fine and performing arts programming, the township said in its resolution to approve the application for additional funding.

The Township Committee "recognizes the historical significance of the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead and believes it prudent to preserve," the resolution said, adding that, "The Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead is a community landmark that reflects the rich heritage of Bernards Township." 

Bernards Township acquired the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead as part of an open space acquisition with municipal open space funds almost 20 years ago.

Afterwards, the township  entrusted the Friends of the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead to be stewards of the Farmstead Property, and to take on the mission of preserving and operating the Farmstead as a non-profit center for fine, performing, and practical sarts.

The Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead to preserve and operate the Farmstead is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.