LITTLE SILVER — Federal officals recently notified the borough that the Parker Family Homestead has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Park Service, which oversees the register, included the more than 300-year-old site on its list of historically significant places in the United States on Dec. 28.
This designation dovetails with a New Jersey Historic Preservation Office’s decision last fall to include the site on its list of historically significant sites within New Jersey.
“Inclusion on the National Register is official recognition by the federal government that the Parker Homestead is worthy of preservation,” said Mayor Robert C. Neff Jr. in a press statement released this week.
The Parker Family Homestead, 235 Rumson Road, was established by Peter Parker in 1667 and remained in the Parker family until Julia Parker, the last remaining family member, died in 1995 at age 96.
Julia Parker gave the 10-acre property to the borough, including the farmhouse, three barns and dilapidated greenhouses, some of which date back to the 1720s, making it one of the oldest existing structures in the country.
Since accepting the Parker gift, borough officials have looked at means to preserve the historic site.
The Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund previously awarded a $44,625 grant for restoration of the Parker Homestead and local authorities used that money for preliminary preparations and consultant fees to outline a plan for future work and use of the location.
The national recognition further reinforces the property’s identity as a meaningful historic site.
“As a practical matter, it gives integrity and credibility to the fact that this is a historic site,” this week explained Chester Apy, a borough resident who serves on the Parker Homestead Board of Trustees.
The formal federal designation also could have financial impact as “It does open the door to traditional funding sources that might not otherwise be available,” Apy said, noting it could lead to additional grant money to assist the borough’s preservation efforts.
“As part of a national program to support efforts to protect America’s historic and archeological resources,” Neff indicated in his statement, “the Homestead becomes eligible for tax credits to encourage private investment, and opens the site to considerations by federal grant programs.”
The board of trustees, consisting of local volunteers, is working to preserve the property for its historical importance and its ability to be used as an educational and cultural resource, “to tell the story of the Parkers, the county and the state,” Apy said.
The National Register of Historic Places was established in 1966 with Congress’s passage of the National Preservation Act.
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