WEST MILFORD-Christmas came five days early to the Tichenor House on Warwick Turnpike in the form of a blue tarp covering the leaky roof. It wasn't quite Santa Claus who decided to drop in on the historic building on Dec. 20 but rather Passaic County officials who raced to the building's rescue minus the big red suit and flying reindeer. After months of stalling the county finally agreed to have the roof protected and all the window spaces boarded up. The house dated 1745 is in such poor condition it was thought a harsh winter could see its complete demise. Much of the credit for the county's sudden appearance at the house is due to Elaine Duffy and the Friends of the Tichenor House who have campaigned ceaselessly to preserve the building. Together with the town's Historic Preservation Commission Duffy's efforts and to save the building finally paid a dividend. She also is exploring the possibility of having the house placed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. This would increase the likelihood of grants being available to carry out greater preservation work on the property and fulfill Duffy's dream of seeing the house fully restored to its former glory. To achieve a place on the register however requires a full professional inspection of the building. Duffy said "State designation could be the best way forward for us and I'm searching for individuals or companies who might be in a position to help." The county engineer was unavailable to comment on the long term future of the house or provide any plans for immediate preservation work. State designation would let Passaic County off the hook as far as providing funds to help restore the building.