Hopewell Township taking steps to preserve historic Hart’s Corner Schoolhouse

Hart's Corner Schoolhouse in Hopewell Township

Hopewell Township plans to utilize $85,000 from its general capital improvement fund towards preserving the historic Hart’s Corner Schoolhouse.

A public hearing on the ordinance appropriating the funds has been set for Feb. 20.

The schoolhouse was first built in 1906 and is located at the intersection corner of Scotch Road and Washington Crossing-Pennington Road.

The township in 2023 through the budget process allocated the $85,000 for improvements to the schoolhouse.

“Knowing that this project would take more than one operating year it was determined not to put the project in the operating budget and send the funding over to the capital improvement fund to expend from there,” said Julie Troutman, chief financial officer for the township.

“The mechanism to spend money that is capital is through an ordinance.”

The schoolhouse was previously designated a historic landmark in the township. According to the New Jersey Historic Preservation Commission, the schoolhouse, which is a one-room building, was one of the township’s first public schools established by the municipal government and local citizens.

The building was named after Aaron Hart, a local township resident, who owned the land in 1875 and managed a blacksmith shop.

Following the school’s opening, 30 years later the schoolhouse shut its doors and reopened as the township’s municipal government meeting. Town meetings were held in 1928 and would continue until 1963.

There have been plans in the works to preserve and improve the historic schoolhouse in the township.

“Last year, we had been working towards a public-private partnership and that is why we allocated money towards public expenditures,” Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski said.

The township found out in the middle of the year in 2023 that the private partner in the restoration efforts would not be achieved.

“So, we made a visit [out to the site] at the urging of the Historic Preservation Committe,” Kuchinski explained. “We worked with Township Administrator George Snyder and his team to prioritize the work that had to get done.

“That was lead paint removal, asbestos, and shoring up the windows.”

Kuchinski explained that some of the lead was found on the windows that needs to be remediated, they need to shore up the shell of the building and they looked at the roof.

“We may also do repainting. Future needs are looking at connecting to water and doing a septic holding tank there,” he said.

“The Historical Preservation Commission is looking at whether there is a potential to create a historic district anchoring at that intersection and extending Washington Crossing-Pennington Road.”

Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning noted that the remediation of the lead and asbestos, along with weatherproofing the building and improving the appearance of Hart’s Schoolhouse will take priority before they discuss future needs for the building.