NJ Forum talk on House Museums


I spoke on November 22 at the New Jersey Forum, a conference that brings together local historians and academics to discuss new research on New Jersey studies. It was held at the Marriott Hotel, Trenton NJ and Sponsored by: The New Jersey Historical Commission, The New Jersey State Archives, and The New Jersey State Museum.
My talk was part of a morning panel called Interpreting a Preserved Landscape: New Jersey Museums and Architecture. Our moderator was Ron Emrich of Preservation New Jersey in Trenton. Fellow panel members were Harriette Hawkins, an independent scholar whose talk was called”Take Any Exit: The Colonial Revival in New Jersey” was an excellent overview of when and how the Colonial Revival came to the state.

Margaret Westfield of Westfield Architects and Preservation Consultants spoke about ” Telling the Straight Story: Truth & Fiction in Building Interpretation.”

I was the first panel member to speak and gave a brief review of my book New Solutions for House Museums, and highlighted two New Jersey examples that were not profiled in the book, The Alice Paul Centennial Foundation in Mt. Laurel New Jersey, and The Meadows Foundation in Somerset New Jersey. This organization operates six historic sites, all with resident caretakers and other uses to support the maintenance of the sites.

My involvement with Paulsdale goes back more than 20 years when I met Barbara Irvine, one of the “founding mothers” of the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation. Barbara and I met through her husband Geoff who was taking a real estate class with me. After learning what I did for a living, he said “do you think you could talk to my wife about a project she is working on?” I did, and have worked off and on with Barbara over the years, as the organization struggled and fought to buy and restore this important building.

Now, more than 20 years later, I have the joy of talking about an exceptionally successful organization that preserved an important house and provides innovative programming for women and girls at Alice Paul’s beloved home, Paulsdale.