Education

Warren Teachers and Watchung Librarian Receive 2018 Historic Preservation & History Award

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Somerset County Freeholders Pat Walsh, left and Brian Gallagher with Phyllis Konen who was honored for her 25 years as commissioner of the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Credits: Courtesy Somerset County Freeholders
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James Sommerville was recognized for his work as an author, researcher and educator by the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Credits: Courtesy SCLSNJ
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Jim Sommerville receives a proclamation from former Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher last year for his years of service at the Somerville Public Library. Credits: Rod Hirsch/Tapinto file photo
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BOUND BROOK, NJ - Winners of the 2018 Historic Preservation and History Awards were recognized at a ceremony held recently at the historic Brook Arts Center.

“Somerset County is fortunate to have so many people and organizations that understand the long-term benefits of preserving our past,” said Freeholder Brian G. Gallagher, Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission liaison. “The biennial awards ceremony is our opportunity to honor recipients of the Historic Preservation and History Awards and thank them for adding to the county’s quality of life.”

Following are the 2018 Historic Preservation and History Awards recipients:

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Historic Preservation/Restoration: Dave and Janet Tompkins of North Branch for the preservation of the Red Chair Carriage House and Village Post Office in North Branch. The restoration project saved two early 19th century structures and is part of the North Branch Historic District revitalization.

History Leadership/Education: Gregory W. Gillette of Hillsborough for his in-depth blogs, Gillette on Hillsboro and The View from Hillsboro (hosted by My Central Jersey). These highly informative, online resources, active for over 10 years and counting, contain hundreds of well researched articles on historic topics centered on Somerset County.

History Education: Social Studies teachers Robert Hartshorn, Lynn Degen, Josephine Brasile and Traci Haise for the Warren Township Eighth Grade History Tour. This program, created and implemented by dedicated educators, incorporates the study of local history and tours of historic sites into the middle school curriculum by training young adults to become house museum docents. It is a significant contribution to Somerset County’s commitment to involving youth in preserving local history.

History Education: The Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House for their Colonial Christmas School Group Day. This full-day event invites public, private and homeschooled elementary school students to travel back in time and witness Somerset County’s history first hand. In addition to a house tour and hands-on crafts, students are given the opportunity to engage with talented actors who portray historic figures. A variety of activities presented in an intimate setting leave visitors with vivid impressions of what life was like in Somerset County over 200 years ago.

History Education: James Laing Sommerville of Bridgewater was recognized for his work as an author, researcher and educator. During his career that spanned over four-and-a-half decades, Sommerville preserved and maintained collections in the Somerville Library’s New Jersey Room, promoted local history through engaging presentations, served on the Somerville Borough Historic Advisory Committee and authored numerous publications, including articles, books and film.

History Publications: Patricia L. Papawick Beronio of Bridgewater for her book, “George Papawick, How One Man Changed Manville.” Well researched and abundantly illustrated, Beronio’s poignant biography of former Manville Mayor George Papawick began as a family memoir and ultimately became a study of Manville’s unique history. It offers a thorough and compelling portrait of Manville from the 1940s through the 1960s.

History Publications: Bound Brook librarian Mary C. Nelson, Watchung librarian Hannah M. Kerwin and the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey were recognized for the publication of “The Old Presbyterian Graveyard, Bound Brook, New Jersey, A Resource.”  Thoroughly researched and richly illustrated, this four-volume project documents the history of the Old Presbyterian Graveyard in Bound Brook and reveals relevant, and sometimes obscure and surprising, information about Bound Brook and Somerset County.

Special Recognition Award Recipients:  Mark A. Else of Somerset was recognized for his 35 years of service as a Commissioner and founding member of the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission. Phyllis Konen of Bridgewater was honored for her 25 years as a Commissioner and her outstanding service as the Chairwoman of the Historic Preservation and History Awards Committee from 1993 to 2016.

The keynote speaker Randal Gaulke, a noted World War I historian, reviewed Somerset County’s role in Great War.

The biennial Historic Preservation and History Awards are intended to increase public awareness of historic preservation, and to recognize and publicly commend individuals and organizations for their contributions in preserving the county’s history.

For more information, contact Historic Sites Coordinator Thomas D’Amico at 908-231-7021 or damico@co.somerset.nj.us.

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