(this text and photos were published Feb 28, 2011 in the Jersey Journal) The decades-long restoration of the historic Apple Tree House in Jersey City is nearing completion. But in light of austere state budget proposals, the city is scaling back what it is requesting from the state for the final leg of the fix-up.
The approximately $4.2 million project will renovate the house, located at 298 Academy St., to its appearance during the mid-19th Century. The house was first built in the 1700s by one of the original Dutch families who settled the area. (click photo to enlarge – scroll below photos for more text)
The City Council was scheduled to approve an $800,000 request for state funding for the project at its Feb. 23 meeting. But the item was pulled at the last minute after some council members aired concerns about the project’s total cost.
State officials would likely have denied the request because of the amount, said Council President Peter Brennan.
“Come on, it’s a house,” Brennan said. “We’re not going through good times right now.”
City officials are attempting to revise the plans to lower costs before the request is re-submitted to the council. The entire project has been paid for with county and state grants.
The city plans to relocate its Cultural Affairs office to the Apple Tree House once restoration is completed in late May or June. It will serve as a museum, city office, visitors center and meeting place for local groups, said Cultural Affairs Director Maryanne Kelleher.
Kelleher said she understands why some city officials might be wary of spending money in this climate to renovate a historic house. But the building must not be left to deteriorate, she said.
“We need to preserve our history,” Kelleher said.
The house was reportedly the location for a meeting between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat who served in the Continental Army. Last home to a funeral parlor, the structure hasn’t been open to the public since April 1990.
“The city has worked diligently over the years to secure the necessary grant funding to make the preservation of this building a reality, and we are committed to finishing this project and look forward to its being open for the public’s enjoyment,” Mayor Jerramiah Healy said.