As the first-ever public school in New Jersey, the Clara Barton Schoolhouse holds a lot of significance for not just the City of Bordentown but the whole state as well.
It was on June 11, 1921, when a dedication ceremony was held to honor the Clara Barton Schoolhouse after it was saved from destruction by inventor George Swift and then restored by teachers and students from across the state.
The historic building that world-renowned nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton, helped build in 1853 still stands today and is preserved by the Bordentown Historical Society.
In honor of its original dedication ceremony 100 years ago to the day, the Bordentown Historical Society held a rededication ceremony for the schoolhouse in downtown Bordentown on June 11.
At the ceremony, Co-President Bonnie Goldman spoke about how the Bordentown Historical Society plans on preserving the schoolhouse so it can continue to be a historical fixture in the community and the state for the next 100 years.
“We want to do what we can to preserve the schoolhouse for another 100 years,” Goldman said. “We want to honor Clara Barton but also continue the intent it had on the school children of New Jersey when it was originally saved.”
Many local and state government officials were on hand at the ceremony, including U.S. Representative Andy Kim of the Third Congressional District of New Jersey.
Kim, who is a former Bordentown resident, said he understands the full importance of the impact Barton had on the Bordentown community when she established the first New Jersey public school in 1853.
It was just this past December that Kim got a bill passed in the U.S. Senate to have the post office located in Bordentown City on Walnut Street named after Barton.
“Clara Barton’s legacy isn’t just a part of our history; her impact is felt to this day in every child who graduates from New Jersey’s schools,” Kim said in a statement to centraljersey.com. “I’m proud to see the schoolhouse will continue to be a part of connecting that history with our present and future for generations to come.”
Representatives from both offices of State Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy were on hand as well at the rededication ceremony.
Singleton, Murphy and Assemblyman Herb Conway helped create a joint resolution lauding the 100th anniversary of the original dedication and restoration for the Clara Barton Schoolhouse that was presented at the ceremony by new Bordentown City Mayor Jennifer Sciortino. Deputy Mayor Joe Myers was also in attendance at the event.
In its continuing efforts to restore the Clara Barton Schoolhouse, Goldman said the Bordentown Historical Society will follow the conditions sent down by Swift when he deeded the property to the New Jersey Board of Education for $1 in 1920.
It is stated in the 1920 deed that the schoolhouse had to remain “in trust for, and behalf of, the schoolchildren of the State of New Jersey and to be forever preserved as a memorial of Clara Barton.”
“The Bordentown Historical Society is committed to honoring this condition of the deed to the state that was signed 101 years ago,” Goldman said.
In order to preserve the schoolhouse and keep it well maintained, the Bordentown Historical Society started a new restoration plan this past year, starting with fixing the roof on top of the building.
Phase II of the restoration plan will begin soon, which includes improving heating, ventilation and air conditioning, electrical work, audiovisual equipment, exterior work on the brick, fencing, sidewalks, and a handicap accessible bathroom for the schoolhouse.
The Bordentown Historical Society did apply for a New Jersey State Historic Trust Grant of $113,000 in April. Being that it is a matching grant, the Bordentown Historical Society needs to raise a share of about $70,000 to get it.
Goldman said that the Bordentown Historical Society has raised around $53,000 thus far.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Goldman said. “We’re all about preserving the schoolhouse so it can exist for another 100 years.”
Later this month, the Bordentown Historical Society will hold its annual Garden Tour on June 26 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rain date for the event is June 27.
Goldman said that there will be 21 gardens on the tour this year, the most ever since the Bordentown Historical Society started doing the event.
For more information on the Garden Tour and, visit https://bordentownhistory.org