BY KATHY CHANG
METUCHEN — The Woodwild Park Horse Trough restoration project has caught the eye of the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office.
The project received a 2017 New Jersey Historic Preservation Award on May 11 at a ceremony held at the Burlington County Olde Courthouse in Mount Holly.
The project was one of six preservation projects recognized from across the state.
“These awards are our chance to honor the many private individuals, organizations and corporations; and state, county and local governments who work hard to preserve New Jersey’s historic places,” said Katherine Marcopul, administrator and deputy state historic preservation officer. “It is inspiring to see citizens taking action to preserve New Jersey’s historic resources.”
The restoration of Metuchen’s cast iron water fountain, known locally as “the horse trough,” is a significant historic preservation project, Marcoupul said.
It exemplifies the successful, creative collaboration of community organizations, professional restoration craftsmen and residents of a local historic district.
Dating from 1900, the fountain, along Middlesex Avenue, Route 27, has been meticulously restored by the national firm of Robinson Iron of Alexander City, Alabama.
The horse trough was sent to Robinson Iron in December and was delivered home on April 12.
Originally built as a water fountain to serve both people and animals, its components included the horse trough basin, a dog bowl, and water spigot.
It is the only known extant example of the Middlesex Water Company’s early 20th century fountains.
Richard Miller, a member of the Woodwild Park Association, said they are honored that the state of New Jersey recognized the collaborative efforts of these organizations in order to achieve the common goal of restoring the borough’s historic fountain.
Maintained by members of the Woodwild Park Association, members have said the 116-year-old horse trough had been showing signs of wear and tear over the years.
In February 2016, members of the association called on the public to help them restore the historic marker through a restoration campaign.
The restoration of the horse trough, which amounted to $26,500, is phase one of the project, which also includes restoration of the historic mid-19th century stone pillars along Route 27 that frame the entrance of the park.
The Woodwild Park Association, a non-profit volunteer membership organization, has relied on members’ dues to pay all costs including annual insurance fees and maintenance.
The association has 44 members and had put together a booklet for the preservation campaign.
The annual New Jersey Historic Preservation Awards honor projects, groups or persons, dedicated to preserving New Jersey’s history. This year marks the 27th anniversary of the awards celebrating May as New Jersey Historic Sites Council.
The Awards are presented by the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office in the Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Historic Sites Council.