Friday, October 1, 2010

Willow Hall added to New Jersey Register

The Passaic River Coalition is pleased to announce that Willow Hall has just been added to the New Jersey Register of Historic Sites. This is an important event for the house because the listing provides further legal protection from future destruction or severe alteration, and will make us eligible for more grants.

Many people felt that adding Willow Hall to the Register was a no brainer, as one reviewer remarked, "What took you so long?" Since the house had always been privately owned, previous owners were never interested in having the house designated as a historic site.

Now that the site is on the State Register, is will be added to the Federal register in about 4 months.

A special thanks to Holt-Morgan-Russell Architects for completing our application and to Marge Brady and Myra Bowie-McCready for attending the application hearing to show their support.

PS- Sorry that it has been two months since the last blog post. It has been rather busy around the office lately but we hope to start posting regularly again soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meet Brownie

There was quite a bit of lunchtime excitement today when Katie (the tall intern) found a bat in a plastic display box on top of the refrigerator.

After putting a cover on the top of the box, snapping some photos, and tapping the box to see if the bat was still alive we moved the box out of the house.

As we started relocating the box, it was clear Brownie (named by Alicja the other intern) was definitely alive. We put the box on its side under one of the hemlock trees in the back yard. Brownie perked up pretty quickly and crawled out of the box and started climbing up the tree. And that is where we left our new friend, who will hopefully get some sleep before sunset and not find his (or her) way back into Willow Hall.

We think Brownie is a Little Brown Bat and are trying to figure out how it got into the house. In the meanwhile we will also be disinfecting the kitchen even though Brownie seemed healthy.

Do you have a bat story? Share it with us in the comment section!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Little Steps

Our summer interns have "greened" Willow Hall a little bit more by bringing in hand towels for our kitchen and bathrooms. Before we had been using paper towels. To be clean the staff take turns bring the towels home to be washed once a week. Reducing our paper towel usage means saving trees, the water and energy used to make and ship the product, and less garbage in landfills. (Though yes, we could probably compost the paper towels instead.)

And two of our interns carpool to work to save gas and the small paychecks we give them. Also, if you hire environmental students, give us a call, we have two awesome college graduates looking for full time jobs at the end of the summer!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A New Chandlier!

As our regular readers might recall, we lost a beautiful chandelier in the Willow Bough Foyer this past February. And by lost, we mean it fell off the ceiling, broke into a lot of small pieces, and left a dent in the tile floor. Click here for the original posting. After some consultation, we determined that it was not feasible to repair the broken chandelier.

But we are pleased to announce that we have finally replaced it. The new chandelier is a Victorian period hexagonal hanging lamp found by House Manager Joe and our friends the Brady's at an antiques auction. The photo below is of the lamp in the condition we bought it in.

Unfortunately, one of the lamp's panels had been replaced and didn't match the rest. Instead of trying to replace the odd panel, we opted to swap out all of them. We brought the lamp to Morristown House of Glass who replaced the panels with clear and textured panes. As you can see below, the refurbished lamp looks great!

As a side note, if you, or someone you know, has an interest in broken chandelier parts or dangly crystal things give us a call. The previous chandelier is currently sitting in a box in the attic, and would love to be repurposed into something new.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sea Turtles

Today we received a request from a fellow non-profit, Defenders of Wildlife, to help save loggerhead sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Defenders of Wildlife is working to increase protections for these sea turtles by listing them as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Click here to take action now.

Loggerhead sea turtles were in trouble before the Gulf oil spill disaster. The number of female loggerheads nesting on Florida beaches – one of the most important habitats for the species – has declined by 50 percent in the past decade. Scientists and government officials have sounded the alarm about what this could mean for the future of the ancient sea mariners. The National Marine Fisheries Service is now proposing to upgrade protection for loggerheads from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

These turtles need our help even more now. The world’s second-largest loggerhead nesting area is on the beaches of the southeastern United States, the vast majority of which includes Florida’s central Atlantic beaches.

This area is expected to be threatened by the horrific oil slick, depending on how much of the slick gets picked up by the Loop Current -- a powerful ocean current that could bring the slick around the southern reaches of the state, through the sensitive coral reef and mangrove areas of the Everglades and the Keys, and then into the Gulf Stream and up the east coast of Florida.

The spill could not have happened at a worse time: loggerheads and other sea turtles -- as well as many shorebirds -- are in the peak of their nesting seasons right now.

Oil is extremely toxic to loggerheads and other species. Exposure can cause skin loss, poisoning, drowning and death… which is exactly why we need every available tool to help save the lives of individual loggerheads and save this species from extinction.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


If you’ve been following this blog, at some point you might have wondered at some point, what’s with all the animals? Isn’t this a river organization? And isn’t this blog supposed to be about a historic house? Are they just trying to woo me with cute animal pictures?

Well, on a really simple level, we do think it is kind of fun to follow and photograph all of the creatures who live around our home. And we hope you enjoy discovering along with us.

But beyond that, they prove an important point (or two). If twenty condominiums had been built on this property, between the construction process and the finished project, many (or most of) the animals we’ve documented would have lost their habitat. Sure, there’s a park next door, but you can only fit so many turtle or chickadee nests in one place. Members of many species (such as owls and hawks) don’t like to live too close together because they compete for limited resources.

Willow Hall also demonstrates that a surprising number of species can be found in suburban habitats. A research project conducted by two interns last summer found 17 bird species, 4 amphibians, 2 reptiles and 6 mammals live or pass through our property. Despite all that had been written about Willow Hall, no one had any idea of this before.

We think that’s pretty impressive for living on the fringe of an urban area such as Morristown. And there are probably more creatures living with us that we haven’t found yet. This summer we would like to begin the process of applying for a Wildlife Habitat Certification for Willow Hall through the National Wildlife Federation. (We’ll have more on that in another post.)

Protecting wildlife habitat is also important to the Passaic River Coalition for a few reasons. Many species, especially amphibians, turtles, and fish, can give us clues about the quality of water in streams, rivers, and wetlands. Habitat that’s healthy for animals is usually healthy for people as well. And protecting predator species also helps keeps other less desirable populations in check. It is much better for our waterways to let birds and bats control the mosquito population than to drain wetlands or douse them with pesticides.

And to us, the world is a richer place because of all the other creatures who share it with us.

A snapping turtle sunbathing on the lawn this morning

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The 10 Most Endangered Historic Sites in New Jersey

Preservation New Jersey has released its 10 Most Endangered Historic Sites in New Jersey for 2010. Willow Hall used to be on this list before we bought it. Historic site funding from the Garden State Trust Fund ballot measure passed in November plays an important role in preserving and restoring sites like these all over the state.