The restored historic cupola that was on the original Hillsborough Municipal building now sits outside the current municipal building on South Branch Road for all to see.
“It’s not for only our children to view, but for our children’s children to see how this all started,” said Hillsborough Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Rich Resevy.
The original municipal building hasn’t been used in 30 years and is scheduled for demolition. Though the building couldn’t be saved, employees from the DPW were able to retrieve and restore the oxidized dome from the top of the building. The cupola is now a permanent display at the front entrance of the municipal complex.
“… This reconstructed piece was all that was left … you can imagine the condition it was in,” Resevy said, crediting DPW employees and local companies for restoring the cupola as well as funding from the community members.
Township officials held a ribbon cutting of the restored cupola on Nov. 1.
“Today marks a remarkable moment as we celebrate a restoration of a little bit of Hillsborough history,” Mayor Shawn Lipani said. “Obviously this has been something we have been talking about for a long time through efforts of many talented employees who are with us today. We are proud to unveil the restored cupola from the old municipal building symbolizing a seamless blend of our rich heritage with a promise of a vibrant future.”
Greg Gillette, a member of the Historic Preservation Committee, shared the history of the municipal building.
The original municipal building was dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 22, 1934. Prior to that, the three-member Township Committee met once a year at the Neshanic Hotel, or in earlier times, in a committee member’s home.
The original municipal building was in use as the seat of government until 1991, when the current Municipal Complex was erected.
Gillette noted the original municipal building, which stemmed from an idea from former Township Clerk Clement Clawson, Jr. Clawson suggested that if the township secured land and paid for an architect, the federal government would pay all the labor costs to construct Hillsborough’s first municipal building.
“The catch was time was of the essence … Clawson knew the program might be halted at any time,” Gillette said, noting local government did not make a move until the last minute.
The Township Committee had to find the property and make a sale rather quickly. But in the end, thy were able to find the property on East Mountain Road that currently houses the Department of Public Works, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The idea for the current municipal building, which houses the township administrative offices, the library, police department and board of education, was an idea attributed to longtime Hillsborough Mayor and Assemblyman Pete Biondi, who passed away in 2011. The building was rededicated in his honor in 2012.