The Village of South Orange has decided to place the Old Stone House, located behind the South Orange Police Station, up for sale. The building, according to the New Jersey Historic Trust’s website, is the oldest building in South Orange and one of the oldest in Essex County.
Local preservationists told the Star-Ledger that the building, built over 330 years ago, is the “oldest datable building in New Jersey,” and is listed on national and state registers of historic places.
The Village has owned the building, according to historical reports available on the Village website, since 1953 and has owned the building longer than any of the house’s other 19 known owners. The village used the House as the site of local school district offices, but has been left tenantless since 1983.
In 2002, the New Jersey Historic Trust, according to the organization’s website, gave a $153,943 grant to the village to aid in the stabilization of the structure and prevent further water penetration as well as funding the construction documents necessary to plan the structure’s future stabilization.
Online Village documents also detail a more than $380,000 stabilization project that was completed last year. Town officials told the Star-Ledger that the repairs were modest and will only provide the house with temporary protection. The structure, officials told the Star-ledger, would “probably require an investment of at least several million dollars.” Buyers will face restrictions on improvements to the structure because of its listing as a historical site.
Village officials and members of the South Orange Historical and Preservation Society, according to the Star-Ledger, will begin drafting a deed agreement and will need approval from the New Jersey Historical Preservation office before the sale can be listed.
Members of the South Orange Historical and Preservation Society and the South Orange Smart Growth Subcommittee for Historic Preservation did not respond to requests for comment.
Brenden Higashi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.