Community invited to visit restored historic church

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By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

MILLSTONE – Members of the public are invited to attend an open house and to celebrate the restoration of an historic structure that dates back to the 1800s.

Restoration work is being completed on the Clarksburg Methodist Episcopal Church, which was established in 1844 and is the second oldest Methodist church building in Monmouth County. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

To celebrate the completion of the restoration work, the Friends of Millstone Township Historic Registered Properties and the Historic Preservation Committee will host an open house at the building, 512 Stagecoach Road (Route 524), on June 3.

The open house will take place from 1-3:30 p.m., according to Doreen Polhemus, the church’s caretaker. A rain date is scheduled for June 4.

Guests may park at the Millstone Township Community Center, 463 Stagecoach Road, where a shuttle bus will take them to the event.

According to Polhemus, the open house will feature free ice cream and the opportunity for guests to place messages into a time capsule which will be buried and then opened in 2069 on the 225th anniversary of the church and Millstone Township.

The building, which no longer functions as a church, was purchased by the township in the late 1990s and had been used as a location for events and programs. Activities there were suspended after structural issues surfaced.

According to Township Committeewoman Nancy Grbelja and Pat Butch, the president of the Friends of Millstone Township Historic Registered Properties, issues with the former church have been known since 2010.

Butch cited a leaking roof and a sagging foundation that was caused by rotting wood as the primary issues with the building.

As reported by the Examiner in January, the roof was damaged by tropical storm Irene in 2011 and the foundation issues were the result of water leaking into the structure after the roof was damaged.

In December 2015, a $250,000 grant for development and structural repairs to the building was approved by the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders.

“I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the team restoring this historic building,” Polhemus said. “This building stands as a testimony to our township’s history and will continue to serve the community well. Many volunteers stepped up to make this project a great success and because of all who stepped up, we are under budget.”