The Friends of Wallisch Homestead are putting the finishing touches on the planning for their big Music Fest event Saturday September 10. “All that is left is to put up the tent and spread out the tables and chairs.” said John Hefferon, event coordinator. “Our committee has been planning and getting the buildings ready for the public the entire season.”
The buildings and grounds committee is chaired by Ron Perez, with Mark Lynch and Michael Van Hooker. Over the past several years the organization has overseen many major repairs to preserve the main buildings, including new roofs on the major buildings, structural repairs to the barn, a new level barn floor, major electrical service upgrades, and painting all building exteriors and the interiors of the Great Stone Barn and Creamery.
The focus has been on the Great Stone Barn because that is pivotal to the site becoming self-sustaining through adaptive reuse — a major theme in the master plan the group presented to the West Milford Township Council and West Milford Board of Education, the owners of the property, almost 10 years ago.
“Without the hard work of our Board researching and winning grant applications, a lot of this work would not have been possible.” Hefferon said.
The Grant Committee, led by Pat Decker, has been successful in applying for various township, county and private grants to fund construction, signage, architectural services, historic preservation and media endeavors.
“Grants are the major source of funds, but grassroots fundraising is a very important part of the process, bringing the community together for a sense of ownership.” noted Sandy Hefferon, FOWH secretary.
“The events we run are what we call ‘Friend Raising’ events, to bring the community together, have some fun and raise some funds to support the preservation efforts.” added Debbi Wiltshire, an event coordinator for the corn hole tournament held last weekend.
The group hosts weekly yoga classes, annual barn sales and the popular art show, which has run each spring since the group started in 2013. They also coordinate their calendar with other civic groups for use of the facility, having been appointed stewards of the property through a formal agreement with the township and board of education. “We have hosted several scout packs and troops, as well as the Friends of the West Milford Library book sale each year,” said Gary Wiltshire, one of the group’s leaders.
Sue Lynch, a group chairperson, wished to thank the many volunteers who have stepped up to support the group. “Without Sonya Van Hooker, Stan Zimmerman and Jim Cosgrove who all provide the legwork and backbone for our projects, and of course, Marilyn Licthenberg, who is our town council liaison, we would not have come so far so quickly.” Lynch said.
The Friends of Wallisch Homestead is a non-profit 510(c)(3) organization that has preserved the buildings without the use of tax dollars through fundraising efforts and grant applications. Members and volunteers are always welcomed to their monthly meeting held in the Great Barn the first Thursday of every month. Visit wallischhomestead.org for more information.