Historic Preservation Commission Reverses Earlier Decision On Honeyman House Barn

The Historic Preservation Commission voted to reverse itself and allow the owners of the Honeyman House to change the material being used on their barn.

The owners of the Honeyman House on Canal Road will be able to use a different roofing material than originally approved on the property’s barn.

The Historic Preservation Advisory Commission voted May 2 to allow the property owners, Ed Potosnak and Jeremy Pike, to use shingles made of asphalt rather than install a metal seam roof.

Potosnak, who is also the Board of Education president, appeared before the commission on May 2 to ask for the reconsideration in light of what he said was the barn renovation’s ballooning budget.

The house is one of the most historically significant homes in the township. It was owned during the American Revolution by John Honeyman, a Griggstown butcher and farmer who was later reputed to be a spy for George Washington.

Potosnak told the commission that they were well into the renovation of the barn – where Potosnak and Pike plan to live while the main house is being renovated – when they discovered that the barn’s wood frame was rotted.

That required what is now being considered a reconstruction of the barn, rather than a renovation, which boosted the project’s cost, Potosnak said.

He said the $17,000 cost of the metal roof has “become a hardship.”

The asphalt shingles he was proposing, Potosnak said, would cost about $5,000.

Potosnak also said that the barn’s interior had been renovated since it was first built, with the then-owners creating an upstairs apartment, with two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen area, and a bathroom/shower area washer and dryer and utility sink on the lower level.

Bob Mettler, the township historian, said there was some question as to whether the barn was an original structure.

“We don’t have photographs or any other evidence of how old the structure that is no longer there was.” he said. “I am hesitant to conjecture that the barn is as old as the house.”

“The original barns could have been sitting where the canal is now,” Mettler said. “If I knew that was an 18th Century barn, I would be fighting for its reproduction. I have no reason to believe it was an 18th Century barn, and even if it was, it had been extensively renovated with garage doors and an apartment. The metal seam roof would be nice, but I don’t see a reason to insist on it.”

Commission member Tom Gale said the commission decided on the metal roof because it “felt the property had historic significance and that was the appropriate material to use.”

“At the end of the day the exact footprint of that building, with the exact pitch of the roof, will be in that place,” Potosnak said. “It’s not like something different will be there.”

“In past discussions we were concerned that we had to be consisted in our decisions,” commission member Susan Goldey said. “This is a unique case, and Mr. Potosnak has sincerely tried to restore this as best as is possible financially and has a great respect for the property.”

“Maybe its not the most faithful reconstruction, but we’re not purporting to be Williamsburg, where 80 percent of those buildings were recponstructions.” she said. “I think we have to be compassionate here and pragmatic, and consider amending our previous decision to approve an acceptable type of asphalt shingle.”

“It’s the same thing as if the barn burned down to the ground and you started all over again,” commission member Bob LaCorte said. “I have no problem with it.”

LaCorte’s motion that the commission allow an asphalt roof was then unanimously approved by the commission.


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