“BRIDGETON ROSE” HISTORIC PRESERVATION AWARDS PROGRAM ON NOVEMBER 13 FEATURES FAMOUS ARCHITECTS AND HISTORIC CHURCHES
Bridgeton, October 23, 2013. Do the names: Strickland–Eyre–Sloan–Furness–Venturi–mean anything to you? If so, you probably know more than a little something about historic American architecture.
But even you could get an unexpected boost in your learning curve on Wednesday, November 13, when the City of Bridgeton Historic District Commission and the Center for Historic American Building Arts partner up for a third year’s celebration of the state’s largest historic district with the “Bridgeton Rose Awards,” and to thank those whose stewardship has benefited some of the district’s thousands of historic and architectural treasures.
“Our special theme this year is the great architects who stopped by Bridgeton to drop off some of their work,” says James Livoti, AIA, the Commission chairman and resident architect. “People may be a little surprised to see how many of them came through here. As an architectural legacy, it really does Bridgeton proud.”
The awards event will be held at Bonham Hall of the First Presbyterian Church, 119 West Commerce Street. The church itself, once known as “West Presbyterian,” was designed by the great Philadelphia architect, Samuel Sloan.
In fact, Bridgeton churches have a special niche in the event program this year. The featured speaker is author Frank Greenagel, the authority on historic New Jersey churches whose most recent book is The Cumberland Churchscape. “As religious communities invested in major construction,” he says, “they often commanded the design skills of big-name architects.” But he adds that the area’s bounty of architected churches “is complemented by the beauty and character of some of its vernacular treasures.”
Flavia Alaya, the cultural historian who created the awards program and now heads CHABA, the Center for Historic American Building Arts in Bridgeton, promises a few surprises among the awards this year. “Expect to learn about some of the gems that need a spotlight to be appreciated,” she says. “Our goal is to highlight preservation as a tool for enhancing the district’s economic development potential,” she says, and adds that her own favorites among this year’s awardees are the smaller buildings and homes, gardens and neighborhoods that “people love and come together around.”
“An awards program is a way of giving credit where it’s due, up at the top and in the middle and down at the grassroots too,” she says, “where the only incentive may be a spirit of caring, respect for what’s beautiful, and a will to add to everybody’s quality of life.”
She is quick to add that it doesn’t hurt to be able to point with pride to the handiwork of some of America’s finest architects. “It means that the largest historic district in the state–over 2000 properties–is large for a reason: it offers what Bridgeton alone CAN offer in this dense megalopolis of the Northeast corridor–a small, walkable postindustrial town with the entire American story, and the whole spectrum of American architecture, all in the palm of your hand–or maybe under the soles of your feet. How many small towns within an hour of Philly and two of New York can say that?”
A brief meet and greet at 5:30 PM with sophisticated refreshments and musical entertainment will take attendees straight into the highly visual awards program, which runs to 7:30 PM. Ample free parking is available around the church. Tickets at $30 benefit the City of Bridgeton Historic Preservation Trust Fund, dedicated to the care of publicly-owned historic sites in the city.
Tickets are now available at Hankins Bros. (12 Broad Street) and the Cohansey Cafe (21 E. Commerce St.). They may also be purchased at the door on November 13.
City of Bridgeton: Roberta Copeland: [email protected] 856-451-3407 x 2
CHABA: Flavia Alaya: [email protected]
the Center for Historic American Building Arts [chaba]
ReVisioning New Jersey’s Largest Historic District
31 West Commerce Street
Bridgeton, NJ 08302