Darlington Project Hits Million Dollar Target

We Did It!

Trail Conference Meets $1 Million Bolger Foundation Challenge to Earn a $500,000 Gift
Construction Can Begin on Headquarters at the Darlington Schoolhouse

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference raised $1 million over the past seven months to earn a $500,000 challenge gift from The Bolger Foundation of Ridgewood, NJ, for the restoration and renovation of the Darlington Schoolhouse as the organization’s new headquarters.  Between March and November, 657 individuals, civic organizations, and local businesses responded to the campaign with donations that ranged from $10 to $150,000.

Ed Goodell, Trail Conference executive director, praised the Bolger Foundation: “They challenged us to elevate the campaign to the point where we could finally begin construction, which will ultimately restore and enhance this community landmark for the public to enjoy and the Trail Conference to use.  Most of all, we thank the many contributors who stepped up to meet that challenge.”

J.T. Bolger, Trustee of the Bolger Foundation said, “The Bolger Foundation is proud to support the Trail Conference and the Darlington Schoolhouse construction.  The repurposing of this building and creating a gateway to the expansive trail network is a wonderful addition to the educational and outdoor experiences the NY-NJ Trail Conference offers.  When we were approached, we knew that this opportunity had to be an all or nothing and have a very short timeline, so as to inspire others to get involved.  The time to wait and see was over, Phase I was complete, and it was time to motivate and raise the total monies needed to complete the project.  We are very excited to see this second phase start.”

As of today, contributions and grants for the final phase of the Darlington Schoolhouse construction amount to just over $2.5 million.  The organization is continuing to accept contributions to meet the full construction budget, which is expected to top $2.8 million. Mr. Goodell commented, ”We have reached out to countless people and organizations over the past year and, thankfully, we continue to get generous offers to help.”

On Oct. 29, the Trail Conference’s board of directors approved a construction contract amount of $2.3 million to complete the Phase 2 interior renovation of the original 4,400-square-foot Schoolhouse and a 3,700-square-foot, two-story addition. Construction is expected to begin in November with a target completion date in October 2014.  Phase 1—which included structural stabilization, exterior renovation, and HVAC and utilities—was completed in 2012.

The Darlington Schoolhouse was built in 1891 as a gift to the Mahwah community by Alfred B. Darling and Theodore Havemeyer, each of whom had farm estates in the area. It is considered “the most architecturally significant schoolhouse in New Jersey” by the New Jersey Historic Trust.

The Trail Conference and Township of Mahwah purchased the Schoolhouse for $550,000 in 2005 with matching grants from the Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund and New Jersey Green Acres funds. Public grants for the building’s adaptive reuse as the Trail Conference’s new headquarters include $829,000 from the New Jersey Historic Trust and $436,000 from the Bergen County Historic Preservation Trust Fund, a part of the Bergen County Open Space, Recreation, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

About Trail Walker

Since 1920, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has partnered with parks to create, protect, and promote a network of more than 2,100 miles of public trails in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. The Trail Conference organizes volunteer service projects that keep these trails open, safe, and enjoyable for the public. We publish maps and books that guide public use of these trails. The Trail Conference is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs with a combined membership of 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people.
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