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Financial, Labor Support Sought For Howe Farmstead

The Howe Farmstead in Colonial Park is set to be restored and historically preserved. (Photo: Somerset County Historical Society.)

The Somerset County Historical Society is seeking financial and labor contributions to the restoration and historical preservation work at the Howe Farmstead in Colonial Park.

This is the first time a historic property is being restored as an all-original venue for historical and other purposes in this unique fashion, while paying homage to an up-and-coming concept of “socio-history.,” according to a press release about the project.

Once completed, the farmstead will serve as an interdisciplinary engagement site that will host local history events, new-age programs and leisure activities according to the release. These efforts will recreate the beauty of the original Howe Farmstead in a way that honors its longest residents, Dr. Eugene and Lois Howe, who resided in the farmhouse from 1947 to 2008.

The Howe Farmstead is an historic group of buildings and land nestled inside of Colonial Park. The original farmhouse (c. 1732) is believed to have been constructed and owned by a member of the Van Doren family that owned property in the area. A good example of the eighteenth century Dutch farmhouses found throughout Somerset County, the land surrounding the house also includes a carriage house, hay barn, corn crib, chicken house, hired man’s house, outhouse and well. The original dwelling now serves as the kitchen wing, with a larger two-story farmhouse addition added on c. 1790-1810.

The nearby athletic complex and nature trail also bear the names of their benefactors, the Howe family, who donated land and financial resources to the park and community. The Howe family, who were respected historic preservationists in the area, made a number of documented physical changes and repairs to their beloved home. In 1992, the Howes donated their property to Somerset County with the agreement that they be allowed to continue living in the farmhouse. It was their intent that their farmstead be preserved by Somerset County for generations to come. Lois passed away in 1995 and Dr. Howe died in 2008.

“Socio-history,” explains Rikki Lyn Hauss-McCarthy, a trustee of the SCHS, “doesn’t disregard the architectural significance of the Howe Farm or other properties. Instead, it fosters a broader focus to include the people that built, preserved and resided on the property and their contributions, as well as the cultural norms of each era that the farm has survived through.”

Founded in 1882, the SCHS is dedicated to finding, saving and sharing the history of Somerset County, New Jersey. The project manager for historic restorations and preservation efforts at the Howe Farmstead is Rikki Lyn Hauss-McCarthy of the SCHS.

If you are interested in supporting the Howe Farmstead restoration and preservation efforts, please visit the SCHS website for more information on how to become a volunteer and/or member of the SCHS. You can support historical interpretation and preservation throughout Somerset County, like those taking place at the Howe Farmstead, by becoming a member of the SCHS for $25 a year. All email inquiries can be sent to the SCHS at schshowefarm@gmail.com.

For additional information on the Howe Farmstead, please visit the SCHS website, Facebook page or Instagram. Weekly updates on restoration and historic preservation at the Howe Farmstead will be made on social media under the hashtag #HoweWeHistory.

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