By Jessica Kinsella
Ed Goodell, executive director of the New-York New Jersey Trail Conference, met with journalist Myles Ma from NJ.com on April 24, 2013, at the Darlington Schoolhouse to discuss the Trail Conference’s future plans for the historic site. During the interview, Goodell gave a brief history of the schoolhouse, which was built in 1891 by T.A. Havemeyer and given to the town of Mahwah.
Goodell first saw the schoolhouse in 2004 and knew right away that its location—walking distance from both Ramapo College and the Ramapo Valley County Reservation—would be the perfect spot for the non-profit Trail Conference headquarters. Darlington Schoolhouse, known as New Jersey’s most architecturally significant schoolhouse, is located almost perfectly in the center of the 1,850 miles of trails that the Trail Conference maintains. It’s positioned amid the densely populated Bergen County but still sits at the edge of one of the largest open spaces of preserved land in New Jersey.
“This building mirrors the Trail Conference’s values,” Goodell told Ma when discussing the Darling Schoolhouse.
Since the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has taken possession of the schoolhouse, they have restored the outside, eliminated leaks, stabilized the roof and the building’s overall structure. The goal, Goodell explained, is to renovate the interior and add an addition on the back to occupy as an office. It will allot the organization the space it needs to accommodate their trail programs and fulfill their mission of training volunteers to aid in land preservation.
An estimated $2.5 million is still needed to complete the Darlington Schoolhouse renovations. Fortunately, the Trail Conference has already raised $1 million and received a Challenge Grant from the Bolger Foundation from Ridgewood, New Jersey. The terms of the grant provide the Trail Conference until Oct. 1, 2013, to raise another $1 million. If successful, the Bolger Foundation will then give the remaining $500,000 needed for the restoration.
When asked about his level of confidence in the Trail Conference’s ability to raise the money, Goodell said, “I’m totally committed to succeeding. There is no other alternative.…. This building was once part of the fabric of the Mahwah community and it will be again.”