The Bordentown Historical Society typically dedicates its time and efforts toward recognizing the people and organizations that have contributed to the area’s storied past.
But but it was the Bordentown Historical Society that was, in turn, the one to be recognized in May.
In acknowledgment of the historical society’s commitment to enhancing and maintaining the Friends Meeting House building on Farnsworth Avenue, the Burlington County Division of Parks honored the Bordentown group on May 21 as part of the county’s annual History and Historic Preservation Awards.
The county program is aimed to recognize the region’s residents, organizations and municipalities who have taken steps to preserve valuable historic sites. Applicants for the awards program can be honored for things such as adaptive use and rehabilitation of their historic property, archival records and documentation or preservation planning and education.
The Bordentown Historical Society received one of 12 awards given at the event, which was the “Preservation/Restoration Award” for 2019. Historical society member Michael Skelly accepted the award and was joined by other fellow members, co-presidents Doug Kiovsky and Tim Rollender, Michael Skelly, Jr. and Kristi Kantorski.
Kiovsky said that the initiative behind applying for the award came when he had mentioned to a friend of his that the Bordentown group had recently upgraded multiple architectural features on the site, including a new roof.
He explained that the old roof had deteriorated over time and that the historical society had received grant through the New Jersey Historic Trust with a 40-60 matching grant. The project was completed within two months by the end of 2018, which featured new additions to the structure such as a standing-seam metal roof and half-round hang gutters in accordance with historic photographs taken of the Friends Meeting House site during the late 1800s, repairing and repainting of the cornices, eaves and rake boards.
Historical society members said that the aim of the project was to secure the structure against further moisture infiltration, preserve the historic character of the building, and to improve public awareness and understanding of historic preservation within Bordentown City.
Once Kiovsky’s friend mentioned that the group should apply to the county’s division of parks annual awards program for this project, the historical society submitted an application which detailed their efforts toward upgrading their site. Soon after, the Bordentown group secured the award for preservation and restoration.
Although Kiovsky said that it was an honor for the historical society to be recognized for the physical enhancements to the site, he felt that the upgrades served a higher purpose than fixing a leak in the roof.
The co-president explained that the honor helped the historical society receive newfound attention.
“For me, it’s not just being recognized for the roof,” Kiovsky said. “It’s about the aesthetics to the whole site.
“It helps us because there are a lot of historical societies throughout the county that have been recognized a lot, and Bordentown is one of the oldest in the county. We haven’t received anything like this recently, so I thought it would be great to get something like this,” Kiovsky said.
Going forward, Kiovsky said that the historical society plans to apply for other categories within the county awards program as well in regards to multiple exhibitions and series programs they host throughout the year.
Given the depth of Bordentown’s historic past with ties to figures such as Clara Barton, Thomas Paine and Francis Hopkinson, Kiovsky joked that any kind of recognition for the historical society had been a long time coming.
“It helps us with recognition and to be recognized among your peers in the historic communities,” he said. “It’s funny because when I was [at the event], a gentleman from one of the historical societies came up to me and said, ‘Well, it’s about time Bordentown showed up.’”