It should come as no surprise that medievalist David Kopp has taken great interest in the Trail Conference’s future headquarters at the historic Darlington Schoolhouse. The original building, completed in 1891, captivates visitors for its beauty, its historical value, its architecture, and its positioning as a neighbor to the popular Ramapo Valley County Reservation.
In an article submitted to Trail Walker, Kopp expounds on the influence of nineteenth century English textile designer and eco-socialist activist, William Morris, upon Darlington Schoolhouse architect, Dudley Newton.
Kopp describes the roots of the Arts and Crafts style of architecture used in the design of the Darlington Schoolhouse, a style William Morris who, compassionately observing the working poor suffer in their polluted environs, believed the most promising solution to be “people-built structures where materials were found around them in the fields and woods.” He challenged the environmental abuse of the Industrial Revolution and longed for the simplicity of medieval life.
Morris was an instrumental organizer in creating the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings which focused on preventing the haphazard and historically insensitive “restoration” of buildings from the past. The Trail Conference has worked in conjunction with the New Jersey Historic Trust and Bergen County Historic Preservation Advisory Board to carefully ensure the integrity of the original building in the restoration. The new addition, though harmonious with the original structure, does not attempt to be an exact copy, rightly allowing the historic building its individual distinction. Kopp writes in his exposition, “Morris would enthusiastically applaud this effort.”
Click to read Kopp’s full article: Finding William Morris in the Darlington Schoolhouse Project: Arts and Crafts Architecture, Historical Preservation and Ecosophy
David Kopp, Litt. D, member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the William Morris Society, serves as a member of the Trail Conference Membership and Development Committee.