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25 Years of Saving Newark’s Heritage: An Exhibit Celebrating the Silver Anniversary of The Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee

Second Floor Gallery
December 1998 - January 1999

Starting and Staying the Course
Back in the spring of 1973 a few concerned Newarkers began talking about what they could do to save the city’s dwindling number of buildings with unique designs or rich pasts. The movement gained momentum rapidly, and the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee was formally organized at a meeting November 26, 1973, at the Plume House. This nonprofit citizens group has weathered many strains and is still the only private organization devoted entirely to saving and promoting Newark’s past. Supported by dues from more than 200 members, contributions from foundations and businesses, and bequests, the Committee pursues its work with volunteers and consultants. The most important, most persistent work has been nominating significant sites for the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Thanks largely to NPLC, four districts and 60 individual places - houses, churches, factories, statues, parks and cemeteries - are now on the Registers. Some two dozen of them bear the Committee’s plaques, which quickly tell passersby about their significance. As it begins a second quarter-century, the Landmarks Committee is looking ahead as well as backward - planning more nominations, plaques and projects, and always preparing for new battles to save endangered buildings or neighborhoods.

Winning and Losing
During its first quarter-century the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee has scored some significant victories, but also suffered stunning defeats. Through the committee’s efforts the city’s grandest mansion and its oldest synagogue have been saved from demolition. Historic designations arranged by the Committee have opened the door to state restoration grants, and spurred the sale and rehabilitation of fine old homes. Thanks to a long campaign by the Committee, the City has established its own commission to help identify and safeguard landmarks. Members of the NPLC have spoken out at public hearings and taken to the streets to try to stop the wrecking ball. But splendid old churches and other buildings have been razed, and author Stephen Crane’s birthplace memorial was bulldozed. Worse still, the Committee could not save the only landmark it ever owned, the Lloyd Houses. But the city might have even fewer great buildings and even more parking lots if the NPLC had never been born.

Looking and Lauding
The Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee has handed out many honors and staged many events to encourage efforts to save and enhance the city’s most precious buildings. Recognition Awards have been given out every year since 1975 to individuals and organizations that have advanced the cause of preservation. Tours through the entire city and various neighborhoods have given hundreds of people new awareness of the beautiful and distinctive structures and areas in out city. Exhibits, forums, meetings and receptions have been held to help educate the public about the importance of landmarks in our lives - and just to give the varied people in this common cause a chance to get together for good talk and good times.

Spreading the Word
During the last 25 years the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee has issued a variety of publications - from hard-cover books to bumper stickers - to help spread knowledge and appreciation of the city’s historic treasures. The Committee’s newsletter, “Yesterdays’ News,” has evolved greatly in format as it chronicled the carried fates of local landmarks. A series of tour guides has described the noteworthy buildings and sites in James Street Commons, Lincoln Park, Forest Hill and the Ironbound. Greeting cards depicted city scenes through the 1890’s drawings of C. Durand Chapman. New note cards, just published for NPLC’s 25th anniversary, feature brand new sketches of local landmarks by Richard La Rovere. NPLC helped sponsor a handsome map of Branch Brook Park. But the Committee is proudest of its biggest publishing venture - “Tales Without Hate,” the memoirs of William Ashby. Revered as “A Living Landmark,” he died in 1991 at the age of 101.

For further information, write or call:
Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee
PO Box 1066, Newark, NJ 07101
Telephone 973-622-4910


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