KENILWORTH, N.J., May 30, 2013 – Kenilworth’s newly restored historic Oswald J. Nitschke House (c. 1880) at 49 South 21 Street will open its doors to the general public on Saturday, June 15, in celebration of Flag Day weekend. Visitors are invited to tour the site during an “Open House” hosted by the Kenilworth Historical Society from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Attendees will have an opportunity to view the fine craftsmanship that is evident in the carefully restored walls, ceilings, floors and faux-grained woodwork throughout the house. Such detailed preservation work can best be seen and appreciated at this time, before any furnishings are added. Visitors also will see how the Nitschke House basement has been transformed into a cultural arts center, which will be a venue for art exhibits, concerts, meetings and other community events/celebrations. During the Open House, visitors additionally will have the chance to review a display of work by the St. Theresa’s School student “History Detectives” club, an extracurricular program offered by the Kenilworth Historical Society.
“We are thrilled to have now completed the long period of restoration work that was required to be able to open the Nitschke House to the general public on a regular basis,” says Shirley Boyden Maxwell, president of the Kenilworth Historical Society. “We’ve worked very hard to reach this significant milestone and are extremely grateful to the New Jersey Historic Trust, New Jersey Cultural Trust, New Jersey DEP Green Acres Program, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, E.J. Grassmann Trust, Kenilworth officials, Kenilworth Veterans Center/VFW Post 2230, Dr. Jerome Forman, Connolly and Hickey Historical Architects, Cottage Gardens, Wagner Construction, Meyer & Depew and all the many other businesses, residents and organizations who have assisted us, along the way, with various aspects of the Nitschke House preservation project,” she adds.
A major portion of the interior restoration work was carried out with the help of: a $150,000 (2010) Historic Preservation Grant that the New Jersey Historic Trust, an affiliate of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, awarded to the Kenilworth Historical Society; a $50,000 (2012) New Jersey Cultural Trust capital preservation grant; and more than $70,000 in “Preserve Union County” grant funds. An earlier New Jersey Historic Trust grant, totaling nearly $200,000, helped fund the exterior restoration, completed in 2007.
These competitive grants were matched with funds that the Nitschke House project was awarded by the E.J. Grassmann Trust and various local businesses, in addition to other monies raised by the Kenilworth Historical Society through numerous ongoing fundraising activities.
The Kenilworth Historical Society has owned the Nitschke House since 2003, when the then-threatened building was donated to the Historical Society by Dr. Jerome Forman and moved to land acquired with the help of the Kenilworth Veterans Center, former owner of the land, and a major New Jersey DEP Green Acres grant.
Once the Nitschke House site is fully operational, it will feature not only a “living history” museum on the first floor and a cultural arts center in the basement, but also three rooms of exhibits on the second floor, an elevator that will make the building completely accessible for people of all ages and abilities, additional heirloom gardens, and a Kenilworth Heritage Walkway featuring engraved commemorative pavers sponsored by local donors.
Other grants that have assisted the Kenilworth Historical Society in advancing the Nitschke House project include general operating support grants from the New Jersey Historical Commission, which have helped pay a portion of the more than $7,000 in annual insurance, security system and utilities expenses, and grants from the New Jersey Cultural Trust, which have facilitated the preparation of a Strategic Plan, Funding Plan, Interpretive Plan and Audience Development/Marketing Plan for the Historical Society and the Nitschke House.
The Nitschke House project was recognized by the State of New Jersey with a 2008 New Jersey Historic Preservation Award shortly after the Kenilworth Historical Society finished restoring the house exterior and installing basic utilities. The project most recently was cited among six “success stories” statewide in the 2011-2016 New Jersey Historic Preservation Plan, “Preserving New Jersey’s Heritage: A Statewide Plan.”
The Kenilworth Historical Society is an independent, volunteer-based, non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c )(3) organization dedicated to the research, preservation and interpretation of the Oswald J. Nitschke House, local history and culture. Funding for the Nitschke House preservation project and all other programs that the Kenilworth Historical Society provides to the schools and general public is entirely dependent on donations, fundraising activities and competitive grants that the organization applies for and is considered for based on merit.
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Photo Description: The newly restored historic Oswald J. Nitschke House (c. 1880) will open its doors to the general public on Saturday, June 15, in celebration of Flag Day weekend. Visitors are invited to tour the site during an “Open House” hosted by the Kenilworth Historical Society from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Photo Description: The Kenilworth Historical Society has owned the Nitschke House since 2003, when the then-threatened building was donated to the Historical Society by Dr. Jerome Forman (in forefront of photo) and, as shown here, moved to land acquired with the help of the Kenilworth Veterans Center (former owner of the land) and a New Jersey DEP Green Acres grant. The Historical Society has since raised the required funds to restore the exterior and interior of the house for transformation into Kenilworth’s first “living history” museum and cultural arts center.
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