Rutgers Prep To Embark On Multi-Million Dollar Preservation Project

Kelli Glasgow of DI Group Architects, right, describes the shingle material that will be used in the Elm Farmhouse restoration.

Kelli Glasgow of DI Group Architects, right, describes the shingle material that will be used in the Elm Farmhouse restoration.

A multi-million-dollar preservation project on an iconic building on the Rutgers Preparatory School campus is set to begin sometime this summer.

Representatives of the state’s oldest independent college-prep school received approval April 7 for their wide-ranging plans from the township Historic Preservation Advisory Commission.

Peter Richardson, head of operations for Rutgers Prep, said the work is estimated to cost between $1 million and $2 million, and should take about 18 months to complete once it’s started.

“The summer’s going to be big for us,” he said.

The school’s architects told the commission that the building  – the 12,000-square-foot Elm Farmhouse – is essentially falling apart.

Masonry walls and foundation are crumbling, decking, roofs and support structures are disintegrating because they have been infiltrated by water and, as a result, some doors and windows no longer operate, they said.

The building’s rear wall is in imminent danger of “complete failure,” Kelli Glasgow, of DI Group Architects in New Brunswick, told the commission.

“We have a huge job ahead of us,” she said. “That whole back wall is crumbling.”

The farmhouse, parts of which were built in the 1700s and the 1800s, served for a long time as the home of RPS’s lower school.

Glasgow told the commission that restorers would use as much of the existing material as possible. She said she didn’t know what percentage that would be due to the nature of the damage in some areas.

A two-story metal fire escape now on the building will be removed and replaced with a wooden staircase, the commission was told.

The plan is to replace 80m existing vinyl clad windows with new vinyl clad windows, and repair 12 wooden windows, according to the architects.

The plans received unanimous approval from the commission, except for the plan to replace roof shingles with an asphalt shingle-like material.

Commission Thomas Gale asked if a material that looks more like slate could be used, but his idea received no support from the other commissioners. Gale cast the lone “no” vote on the roofing plan.

Vince Dominach, the township’s principal zoning officer, said RPS only has to get construction department approval before the work can begin.

Richardson said the first phase of project would be the masonry work.

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