Wallisch Estate in disrepair

| 30 Aug 2012 | 12:36

— The Wallisch Estate buildings are in desperate need of repair and if nothing is done - and soon - this 188-year-old homestead may not make it.
That is the fear as the Wallisch property was named one of the top 10 most endangered historic places in 2012 by Preservation New Jersey earlier this year.
The most pressing issue seems to be stabilizing the roofs at both the main house and the barn on the property. Earlier this year, the committee asked for tarps on both the barn and the Dutch Colonial farmhouse to prevent further damage.
Steven Boshart, chairman of the West Milford Historical Preservation Committee, told the township council there has been deterioration over time of the properties. He had done an assessment report three years ago. Now, he is asking the council to approve his commission’s request to go forward with a $20,000 grant application to get funds to help stabilize the buildings. He also needs $5,000 from the council for a consultant to develop a long-term strategy for the future of the buildings. The council agreed.
Boshart said his committee is working on that grant application, which is due Sept. 20, 2012, to the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust.
Township Construction Official Tim Ligus said the roof is the item that needs to be addressed first. The barn, he said, has some structural issues as well. Other issues, such as the septic and the trenching system, can be looked at down the road.
Councilman Mike Ramaglia said he has done historic work with previous employers. Before anything else, he said, they need to do the baseline study to see just what is needed and if it is feasible to do.
“If it comes back needing $2.1 million to fix it, then you make the decision,” said Ramaglia. “Otherwise, without it, you’ll be using a bull dozer.”
Councilman Lou Signorino said there are feet of water in the basement and suggested the township pump it out. Ligus said if they do pump it out, they will expose more rot to the structure and would have to fix it. He said there was probably a sump pump at one time.
A brighter future
Boshart's vision for the estate is one of both usefulness and historic significance. He said he would like to rehab it so it could be used as a visitors center and a place for town organizations to meet. He said he would work with the Economic Development Committee on the needs in the township.
“It’s a great asset to the community,” said Boshart. “And one of the most beautiful buildings.”
The Wallisch Estate was willed to both the township and the school board by Louis Jr. and John Wallisch. The entire estate is set to become the property of the township as part of the Hillcrest Community Center lease agreement between the township and the board of education.

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