By Jennifer Easterbrook, Membership and Development Manager, and Alice Luddington-Cantor, Trail Conference Volunteer
A new chapter in the Trail Conference’s 94-year history begins April 7, when a ribbon-cutting ceremony completes the move into the new headquarters at the Darlington Schoolhouse in Mahwah, New Jersey. The Trail Conference has worked with many partners since 2004 to acquire, stabilize, restore, and repurpose the 124-year-old historical landmark, which borders the Ramapo Valley County Reservation and now helps to serve the organization’s goal of protecting and promoting access to the outdoors. “While this day has been a long time coming, I don’t regret taking care, every step of the way, to build a headquarters that represents our values and enables us to better accomplish our mission of connecting people with nature,” said Edward Goodell, Trail Conference executive director.
With meticulous attention to detail, the Schoolhouse was restored in two phases: Phase 1, completed in 2012, included structural stabilization, exterior renovation, climate control, and utilities, while Phase 2 involved the interior renovation of the original 4,400-square-foot schoolhouse and construction of a 3,700-square-foot, two-story addition. In March, electricians, plumbers, and painters put the finishing touches on the headquarters building at 600 Ramapo Valley Road. In a concerted effort by staff and volunteers, equipment and files were officially moved in from the rented office just up the road, where the Trail Conference had maintained operations since 2001. Everyone is invited to stop by the new headquarters to purchase maps, books, and memberships, sign up for volunteer opportunities and workshops, or simply learn more about the organization.
The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place April 7 at noon, rain or shine. A short program, tours, and a hot beverage will be provided. A day-long grand opening ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, September 12 to acknowledge the supporters, builders, and friends who made this remarkable restoration a reality. As the organization enters its 95th year, the new headquarters will be the cornerstone from which the Trail Conference builds its second century of serving the region by making public lands more accessible.
For events related to the headquarters grand opening in September and 95th anniversary in October, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and watch the Trail Conference website and E-Walker, our electronic newsletter.