LITTLE SILVER HOUSE PLAN UP FOR REVIEW

parker-homesteadA plan to open the Parker Homestead as a museum is scheduled for presentation Thursday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The decade or so of renovating at the Parker Homestead is nothing when measured against how long it’s been there — about 340 years. But virtual dormancy has kept it from living up to its potential as one of Little Silver’s most accessible windows on the past.

Not for much longer.

On Thursday, consultants and historians are scheduled to give a presentation on the work that’s been done on the borough’s oldest home, and how future work will bring the homestead into a new age as a museum and educational center.

The public is invited to not only hear what’s happened at the property, but also give input.

“We want it to be an educational and historic-type building,” Mayor Suzanne Castleman said. “It is, but we want education as well as the past. We want our children to learn about the past and hopefully (they) can do hands-on things.”

When that may happen is unclear.

Over the years, the home, on Rumson Road, has undergone a major renovation in which its roof, heating and cooling systems and bathrooms got complete overhauls. It was also placed on the state’s register of historic sites.

The next step is getting it on the National Register of Historic Places, Castleman said. That, and refurbishing the 10.4-acre property’s three barns, she said, would wrap up the project and allow the homestead to serve the vision the borough laid out years ago as a museum.

Those projects will be funded through grants and donations, she said.

“It will not be cheap,” Castleman said, “but when we’re done it probably will be one of the most wonderful homes in the area.”

The home was built in 1667 by Peter Parker, an early settler to the area, then a part of Shrewsbury. Until it separated from Shrewsbury, Little Silver was known as Parkerville.

The homestead, with the two-story house and three barns, stayed with the Parkers until 1995, when the last descendant, Julia Parker, passed away and left the property to Little Silver. She stipulated in her will that the homestead may only be used for historic and educational purposes, Castleman said.

Castleman will be one of the presenters at Thursday night’s meeting. The others — historian Richard Veit, cultural planner Nancy Moss and Meredith Bzdak, who’s served as the project director for an architect hired by the borough — will give their input on how the homestead can best be put to use in Little Silver.

“The presentation is to tell us what we need to do and how to do it,” Castleman said.

The presentation is scheduled to run from 7 to 8:30p Thursday at borough hall. It’s free and open to the public.