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Shrewsbury looks to improve historic Wardell House

Staff Writer

SHREWSBURY – The historic Wardell House could soon undergo some improvements as officials look to “stabilize” the building that once served as Borough Hall.

At a June 20 meeting of the Borough Council, Mayor Donald Burden asked governing body members for permission to go out to bid to see what it would cost to help restore the historical building to its former glory.

“We need to stabilize the building,” Burden said. “It is mostly exterior stuff, a lot of damage has been caused by water and wind, shutters have blown off … but the water rot is just getting worse and worse.”

Councilman Donald Eddy said if the building doesn’t get stabilized soon, it runs the potential of collapsing.

“The situation will only get worse and that is something we are trying very hard to prevent,” Burden said.

Shrewsbury’s historic Four Corners – the area at the corners of Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue, including Christ Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Quaker Meeting House and the Allen House – is an area that is widely regarded as Monmouth County’s most historic acre.

Officials want to make sure the Wardell House,  which is located on the site where the current Shrewsbury Municipal Building sits now at 419 Sycamore Ave., maintains its title as one of the borough’s oldest buildings, instead of seeing it collapse or worse.

“The Allen House, Presbyterian Church, Quaker Meeting House, they all engaged in some renovations recently and it was obvious the Wardell House didn’t even look comparable … but hopefully once again it will contribute to the beauty of the historic Four Corners,” Burden said.

While officials don’t know how much work would cost, they said something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

“It is going to take a lot,” Burden said. “Bids come in too high, we may have to postpone, but once we figure things out, we hope to get a tenant to go there.

“We had a potential group who wanted to build a theater in there, but that fell through at last minute.

“At the end of the day it is about restoring the Wardell House to its more prominent position as part of the legacy of the ‘Four Corners.’”

At the June 20 meeting, Councilwoman Deidre DerAsadourian agreed it is a huge project and said some of the issue finding the right group or individual to restore it to its former glory is that they look “at it as such as outrageous undertaking” that it scares them.”

“I don’t know what the answer is, if we have money, we try to make it look a little bit better or do some of the work to make it a little bit better of a building,” she said.

“I don’t have a problem doing something to try to spruce the building up and make it a little better… it is a safety issue and I feel we have to go forward.”

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