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May-24-11 Mercer County recognized as preservation champions
MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County has again been recognized as a true champion of historic preservation in New Jersey at two separate ceremonies this week.
On Sunday, May 22, 2011, the Rosedale Road Bridge project in Princeton Township was lauded by the Historical Society of Princeton at its annual awards dinner held at the Bainbridge Club Party. The Rosedale Road Bridge project received the Preservation Award from the Historical Society of Princeton.
Rosedale Road is an early thoroughfare connection Princeton to the settlement of Rosedale on the way to Pennington and Hopewell. Two early 20th century steel truss bridges carried traffic until one collapsed in 1935. Its replacement was a graceful stone span constructed by Mercer County in 1937. In 2005, County bridge inspectors determined that the 1937 bridge had developed structural flaws and plans were initiated to replace the span.
The resulting design of the new bridge by Iftekhar Hossain of IH Engineering follows that of its predecessor, but incorporates current structural requirements. Every effort was made to incorporate as much of the original coping and capstone specified in 1937 as Bedford Indiana Limestone were retained for reuse. The bridge replacement was completed in record time. In July 2009, the old span was swiftly dismantled, salvaged materials sequestered and footings laid for the new crossing. The close cooperative efforts of Mercer County, Princeton Township, IH Engineering and Interstate Contracting and Excavation enabled the completion of this Herculean task in just four months – and ahead of schedule.
“It’s extraordinary for a new structure such as Rosedale Road bridge to be honored as an example of historic preservation,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “By working with the engineers, the area residents and Princeton Township, we were able to create a new, safe, modern structure that fits in with the lovely rural surroundings of Rosedale Road.”
On Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at a statewide historic preservation awards event, the restoration of The Louis Kahn Bath House and Day Camp Pavilion in Ewing received honors. The award, given by The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Historic Preservation Office and NJ Historic Sites Council, happens annually in May and this year’s theme was “Celebrating America’s Treasures.” The Bath House project award recognized the efforts of Mercer County and all entities involved in preserving this valuable resource. Ceremonies were held at the Trenton Masonic Temple.
The Bath House was listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places in 1984 and was widely recognized for decades as an internationally important work by the architect Louis I. Kahn. The complex was the property of the Trenton Jewish Community Center until 2006, when it was conveyed to Mercer County. It was then conveyed, with preservation easements, to Ewing Township. The County and Township collaborated on the restoration to return the project to its original use.
The Bath House and Pavilions served as the entrance and changing area for an outdoor swimming pool. The project consists of four concrete block structures containing changing rooms that surround an open atrium, each topped by a large wood-framed pyramidal roof. Kahn designed them as part of a larger plan, which was never executed.
The Bath House is widely regarded as a turning point in Kahn’s career. Kahn himself said that the project unleashed “a generative force which is recognizable in every building which I have done since.”
The structures had suffered from exposure to the elements, a process exacerbated by their openness and fragile materials. The refurbished swimming pool should open this summer.
“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a historic house…and let me tell you that it does something to you. It gives you an appreciation, and a love, for history that stays with you all your life,” Hughes said.
Hughes has become one of New Jersey’s most staunch advocates for historic preservation. Hughes said he was particularly pleased with the award for Rosedale Road Bridge, the second such award Mercer County has garnered for the project.