October 19, 2016 - 9:24 AM
BELLMAWR, N.J. - Federal officials are exploring ways to avoid razing a historic Revolutionary War-era home in New Jersey as part of a $900 million interchange reconstruction project.
The Federal Highway Administration met with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker's staff last week about the Hugg-Harrison-Glover House in Bellmawr, The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill reported (http://on.cpsj.com/2dq4SJv ).
Transportation officials intend to demolish the home as part of the Interstate 295/state Route 42 "Direct Connection" project.
But many hope to spare it from the wrecking ball, including the U.S. Department of the Interior and its American Battlefield Protection Program.
Militia Capt. William Harrison owned the house, and some of its fields were among the battlegrounds at the Battle of Gloucester.
Federal highway officials said they plan to meet with U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross or his staff about the 18th century home. The Democrat has been leading efforts to preserve the structure in New Jersey.
"We want to make sure we can save the house and we are trying to find out if proper procedures were followed, but unfortunately, our backs are up against the wall with this important project motorists have been waiting for," Norcross said.
State transportation officials said they followed all the proper procedures, but Camden County Historical Society officials disagree.
"NJDOT staffers determined Capt. Harrison's house had no historic value, so federal regulations allowed them to design a sound wall right through it, rather than around it," society president Chris Perks said.
Former New Jersey state parks historian Garry Stone said it appears that the transportation department rewrote part of its report to indicate the house did not retain enough architectural integrity for national registry eligibility.
"FHWA takes historical preservation very seriously, and will continue to do everything we can to ensure that state officials have the information they need to make decisions regarding this building," federal highway spokesman Doug Hecox said. "Ultimately, this is NJDOT's decision."
Information from: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.), http://www.courierpostonline.com/
News from © The Associated Press, 2016