MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Historical Preservation Committee hosted its annual awards program at their regular meeting on May 25.

The 2017 Historic Preservation Awards Program honors individuals who have helped to not only promote the mission of the HPC, but also have worked to preserve the history of the town.  

“Our historic structures in town are under attack and it is just so gratifying to see so many people here who appreciate our historic structures,” said Kathleen Bennett, chair of the HPC.

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The Preservationist of the Year Award was the first award given out and was presented to Michael Farrelly, Trustee of the Montclair History Center and Township Historian. As the Montclair Historian for more than 10 years, he has acquired a significant amount of knowledge about Montclair’s history. Over the years he has conducted walking tours of the town, taught classes about the townships history at the Montclair Adult School and worked with many history classes in the Montclair School District to help school aged children learn about the history of the town. Over the years, Farrelly has spent a great deal of time working to make Montclair’s history accessible to all residents.

The Bricks & Mortar Preservation Awards were also presented to four groups of people who also worked to help preserve Montclair’s history. First to receive this award was Jennifer Bakshi and her construction partners for the work they did on a conservatory addition to a residential carriage house on South Mountain Ave. When designing this addition, she worked to blend the historic design with the contemporary design of the surrounding area in order to create a unique work space for her business.

The next award was presented to Willow Street Partners & Sionas Architecture for their rehabilitation and restoration of the former Inspection Station building located at 16 Label Street. According to Bennett, this structure was build back in the 1930s and had been left vacant for many years.

Members of the St. James Episcopal Church was also recognized for the restoration of the Bell Tower at 581 Valley Road in Upper Montclair. Originally built in 1919 as a memorial to World War I soldiers, the tower was in great need of repair. Now it has been reconstructed as a “peace memorial.” 

“We were very thankful for an anonymous grant we received because the bell tour was really falling apart,” said Rev. Melissa Hall.

Although no one was available to accept the next award, The Deron School was recognized for their work on the former Grove Street School building and grounds at 130 Grove Street. 

Following the awards ceremony, members of the HPC elected Jason Hyndman as Vice Chair of the committee following the resignation of the former vice chair back in January. The vote was unanimous and Hyndman accepted the position.

Although there were few additional items on the agenda for the HPC to discuss, representatives from the Redeemer Church of Montclair were referred to the committee by the board of adjustments. The church has constructed a plan to expand not only the the existing church, but to also add additional parking as well. Members of the HPC made numerous suggestions regarding the size of the new church as it may interfere with the other buildings in the neighborhood.

They compiled a list of suggestions which will be sent over to the board of adjustments for review.