The Sexton’s House is an important feature on the property of First Reformed Church. Built in 1885, it was always meant to house the sextons of our church. For this unique reason, it was included, together with our Education Building and the church itself, on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
The house was built in the style of Queen Anne. According to Architect Margaret Westfield’s 2007 Preservation Plan, this style includes in our case “asymmetry, the use of integrated porches, the use of different materials on the exterior (clapboard and shingles) to create texture, the decorative string course and bargeboards, the sash door at the front entrance with the unusual panel pattern and the large pane of glass surrounded by small panes, and the use of multi-light double-hung sash windows.”
Margaret found the house also unusual because it was “constructed with thin structural wall members stiffened by paning of handmade brick.” According to her, some of this brick may have originated from the old court house which was demolished in order to make space for the Education building.
Thanks to a variety of community groups, as well as efforts from our midst, the house begins to show some of its old charm. In recent weeks, we had Rutgers students, volunteers from Johnson & Johnson, participants of the NJ Intensive Supervision Program, and Paul Nulton working on the house. Bruce and Ellen Hamilton, Lolly Schenck, and I helped from our congregation.
The paint colors were part of a choice that Architect Margaret Westfield had provided. Adherence to historic precedents helps our compliance with the easement from the NJ Historic Trust that came as one of the conditions of our capital grant from the Trust in 2009.
We are blessed not just because we have a beautiful little house that provides living space for our Sexton Robert Longo, but also the maintenance of the house brings numerous groups from the community together. Building maintenance who would have thought of it as a crossroads for the community?