(l to r) Betsy Barrett, 2017 Historical Commission Award winner Brian Samuelson and Barbara Harrigan are pictured at the Historical Commission Awards ceremony

Fifth-grade essay winners, others recognized

FREEHOLD, NJ – On Monday, June 5, the Monmouth County Historical Commission announced the winners of the County’s 2017 Preservation Award and the annual Fifth-Grade Essay Contest.

“It is wonderful to recognize the first completed preservation project at Fort Hancock,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Monmouth County Historical Commission. “The former Officer’s Row home is now a weekend rental destination for history buffs, bird watchers, and anyone else looking to enjoy a splendid night or two at Historic Fort Hancock. The credit goes to Brian Samuelson who persevered through government red tape and brought this magnificent structure back from ruin.”

Samuelson, an Atlantic Highlands resident, signed a 60-year lease with the National Park Service for the severely flooded and damaged property at #21 Officers Row. Restoration of the 5,715-square-foot duplex was finished in December 2016 with the completion of sewer lines, roofs, the electrical system, utilities and other improvements. Originally constructed in 1939, the structure is one of 18 buildings that served as lieutenants’ or captains’ quarters when Fort Hancock was a military installation protecting New York Harbor.

The preservation award is given to individuals and groups who have engaged in successful preservation and restoration projects on their own. The winning projects reflect the preservation movement and restoration of historic sites in Monmouth County.

The Commission also recognized the winners of the 2017 Fifth-Grade Essay Contest. The first-place winner was Andre Goodman, of Indian Hill School in Holmdel, who wrote about the “Ultimate Weapon” statue at Fort Dix that was created and built by his grandfather. His one page essay earned him a plaque and a $100 book store gift card.

Second-place winner Quincy Eigenrauch, of St. James School in Red Bank, wrote an essay about “Why Thompson Park is Special to Me” which included her family’s personal connection to the Thompson Family. Ms. Eigenrauch received a $75 book store gift card. Third-place winner Victoria O’Leary, a student at Oak Hill Academy in Lincroft, wrote about the importance of the historic Twin Lights in Highlands and how she and her father have discussed the importance of the lighthouse to the New York Harbor. Ms. O’Leary received a $50 book store gift card.

“Monmouth County is rich in history and I am glad to know that our youth are talking to their parents and grandparents about their personal connections to local historic places and events,” said Burry.

Honorable mention awards were presented to : Danny Phipps of St. Catharine School, Spring Lake; Nadia Monchik, Jason Moe, and Olivia Prettitore of Middletown Village School, Middletown; Inara Zarak, Maya Lundh, and Nick Gomez of Indian Hill School, Holmdel; Ryan Hierl of St. Rose of Lima, Freehold; and Thomas Priest of Holy Innocents School, Neptune.

A certificate of appreciation was also presented to Kathleen Bradley of the Indian Hill School in Holmdel. Each of the school’s fifth grade classes participated in the contest this year: 205 students submitted essays.

A record total of 485 essays were submitted to the competition. Participating schools were Stone Bridge Middle School, Allenton; St. Rose of Lima, Freehold; Beers Street School, Hazlet; Indian Hill School, Holmdel; Oak Hill Academy, Lincroft; St. Mary School, Middletown; Holy Innocents School, Neptune; Midtown Community Elementary, Neptune; Saint James Elementary School, Red Bank; Shrewsbury Boro School, Shrewsbury; St. Catharine School, Spring Lake; and Middletown Village School, Middletown.

Preservation awards are given out annually to recognize people who have preserved a piece of Monmouth County history.

“Monmouth County has an amazing collection of historic buildings,” said John Fabiano, executive director of the Historical Commission. “These include places to live, places to worship and places of public accommodation. The owners of these properties, and community organizations, work tirelessly to maintain these properties not for the awards, but because they care about preserving our heritage for the next generation.”