Plan to restore historic Hewitt Church in jeopardy

WEST MILFORD. A Garden State Preservation Trust grant that would be used for repairs to the church foundation, siding and roof requires that the building be on a historic register.

| 23 Apr 2023 | 05:38

Learning that the historic Hewitt Church on Route 511 is just outside the Long Pond Ironworks Historic District has created a problem for the Friends of Long Pond Ironworks (FOLPI) volunteers who hoped to see the building restored.

Using the Historical Structure Report to prioritize their restoration plans, FOLPI was awarded a grant from the Garden State Preservation Trust last year to begin repairs to the church foundation, siding and roof.

However, that grant requires that the church be listed on the state or national register to receive the funds.

While doing research for the grant, FOLPI learned that the church is just outside the historic district.

FOLPI historians said the church apparently was left outside the historic district when it was listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places because the church was not built until after the “period of significance” when the ironworks were in operation.

FOLPI is nominating the Hewitt Church to be listed on the registers.

However, the National Register of Historic Places registration form is extremely detailed and complex, and the state review process is lengthy.

FOLPI leaders said they hope to receive a determination on their application this fall so they can continue restoring the church.

The group is working with the state, county and transportation departments to repair the Hewitt Brook bridge between the Stone Double House and Company Store. The bridge is closed to vehicular traffic because of negligence and erosion.

The volunteer group has been awarded a Passaic County Heritage and Cultural grant to help with educational programs this year as members continue fundraising, educational and preservation efforts despite a drop in membership, contributions and volunteers.