Farmstead Arts Flourishes As Restorations Continue
Sunday's concert also is occasion to showcase progress on restoring pre-Revolutionary barn at township-owned arts center.
As Bernards Township's Farmstead Arts began this year's concert schedule with Heather Mulvey's St. Patrick's Day performance of Celtic, American and folk songs, the event also was an opportunity for arts center to unveil improvements to the historic farmhouse and major progress in restoration of a pre-Revolutionary War barn.
A Somerset County cultural heritage grant was used to install windows and outdoor sidewalks, as well as to make structural changes in the basement of the farmhouse, already in use since the arts center officially opened in October 2010 on the historic Kennedy Martin Stelle property, said Ann Rosenblum, president of the Farmstead Arts.
An English-style barn on the property dating back to the 1730s to 1740s has not yet been able to host public events, however.
The Farmstead, which hosts art and photography exhibits, music and houses working artists and arts education, is at 450 King George Road in Basking Ridge. Exhibitors have been from Basking Ridge, Bernardsville and nearby.
But after Sunday's performance, Rosenblum led a brief tour of at the barn to show the work done primarily with a state Historic Trust grant.
The $176,000 grant went to install a concrete floor in the old structure, as well as to raise beams to make it more usable, she said earlier this year. The floor previously had been made of dirt and old wood, she said on Sunday.
She said the Farmstead Arts may apply for further grant money for such improvements as installing electricity and putting in a ramp to make the barn handicapped-accessible.
Eventually, she said the barn is envisioned for such uses as live theater and other exhibits and performances open to the public.
Rosenblum pointed to some of the historic artifacts that remain in the barn, including an old chest and a sleigh. She said the heavy beams overhead had held the structure up for almost 300 years.
The barn is English style, while most barns in the area are Dutch barns, Rosenblum said. She imagined an era in which soldiers fighting in the American Revolution may have slept in the barn, whether Colonial or Red Coats.
Later this year, Bernards Township Mayor Carolyn Gaziano said the Farmstead has scheduled at June 8 fundraiser with a rubber duck race along the Passaic River by the farmhouse, an art show and "farm to table" food event. She said that one-day art workshops are expected to begin in February, and art classes are due to start up again in March.
Next concert coming up in April
The next live musical event on the Farmstead's calendar is the cast of Ridge Light Opera's presentation of Savoy Faire, a celebration of Gilbert and Sullivan at the Farmstead at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 21. Tickets are $15 or $10 for students and seniors, and may be purchased online.
Information on events, classes and exhibits are posted on the Farmstead Arts website.