Special Briefing Regarding Plans for the Adaptive Reuse of the Darlington Schoolhouse Held at Ramapo College of New Jersey

Trail Conference Board Chair, Chris Connolly; Trail Conference Executive Director, Edward Goodell; President of Ramapo College, Peter P. Mercer; Mahwah Historian, Carol Greene; Trail Conference Development Director, Don Weise; Darlington Schoolhouse Stakeholder Action Team Members Bill and Linda Dator

From left: Trail Conference Board Chair Chris Connolly; Trail Conference Executive Director Edward Goodell; President of Ramapo College Peter P. Mercer; Mahwah Historian Carol Greene; Trail Conference Development Director Don Weise; and Darlington Schoolhouse Stakeholder Action Team Members Bill and Linda Dator.

Ramapo College of New Jersey President Peter Mercer and his wife, Dr. Jacqueline Ehlert-Mercer, welcomed the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and special guests to the Havemeyer House for the first in a series of briefings the Trail Conference has launched regarding plans for the adaptive reuse of the Darlington Schoolhouse.

The $2.5 million capital project will create a center for conservation service learning and a trail visitor center at the Darlington Schoolhouse on Rt. 202 in Mahwah. Plans include a two-story addition to the 1891 schoolhouse that will serve as the Trail Conference’s new headquarters.

Gathered for the occasion were long-time Trail Conference members, neighbors of the Schoolhouse, and other individuals whose interests include conservation, historic preservation, hiking and recreation, education, and environmental sustainability. Holding the event at the Mercers’ home was symbolic because of the Havemeyer House’s historical ties to Mahwah and the origin of the Darlington Schoolhouse.

Edward Goodell, Executive Director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, speaking on the future of the Trail Conference and plans for the Darlington Schoolhouse as its headquarters.

Edward Goodell, Executive Director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, spoke on the future of the Trail Conference and plans for the Darlington Schoolhouse as its headquarters.

Edward Goodell, Executive Director of the Trail Conference, energized the room with talk of the Trail Conference’s history, from its unorthodox beginnings in a lean-to on the roof of Abercrombie & Fitch to the wide-ranging demand for its volunteer stewardship approach. “From very modest beginnings, we have grown to become an essential part of the parks and recreation system throughout the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.  With help from our diverse community, we will transform the landmark Darlington Schoolhouse into a vibrant center for learning once again,” he said.

Mahwah historian Carol Greene, author of The Ramapough Chronicles: A 300-Year History of Mahwah New Jersey and Its Surrounds, spoke at the Jan. 10 event.  She emphasized the great significance of preserving the Darlington Schoolhouse and making it a center to serve the public again in the 21st century. Greene presented to the Trail Conference several photographs of the schoolhouse as it was in its prime. These photos, a gift from Greene and the board of trustees of the Hermitage Museum in Ho-Ho-Kus, are to be hung in an historical exhibit planned at the Schoolhouse.

Compared with most late 19th-century schoolhouses of a similar size, Darlington Schoolhouse was executed with little expense spared. It stands as a well-preserved example of the infusion of wealth into the Mahwah area with the arrival of New York City industrialists in the 1870s.

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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