The Sourland Conservancy and the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) are now co-owners of a property where they hope to build their new shared administrative and program space.
The property at 191 Hollow Road, Skillman, N.J., in the heart of the Sourland Region, overlooks the Rock Brook and preserved woodlands next to the museum. The two groups have begun to jointly raise funds to support the project.
“We would like to thank D&R Greenway Land Trust, Montgomery Township, SSAAM, and the Whidden family for their help in acquiring and preserving this beautiful property,” said Caroline Katmann, Sourland Conservancy executive director.
Linda Mead, D&R Greenway Land Trust president and CEO, said, “This newly preserved property meets all three parts of our mission: preservation, land stewardship and inspiring a conservation ethic...”
On Monday, July 29, the Conservancy, SSAAM, Montgomery Township, and D&R Greenway attended a closing for the property.
“Our family is delighted that we’ve been able to help with the preservation of both this beautiful property along Rock Brook, and the Hollow Road AME Church,” said landowner Georgia Whidden. The church is on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.
“We have many memories of the wonderful singing coming from the church every Sunday years ago, and are enthusiastic that the church has become the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum.
“We believe strongly in its work, as well as that of the D&R Greenway Land Trust and the Sourland Conservancy. We are pleased to support Montgomery Township’s long, strong commitment to land preservation.”
Whidden’s property totaled 8 acres. D&R Greenway brought together Whidden and the partners and secured a contract to purchase all of the land.
Of that, 1.2 acres was purchased by the Sourland Conservancy and SSAAM, and nearly 7 acres was purchased by Montgomery Township as permanent open space. The land is a link between the AME Church and the new Sourland Conservancy/SSAAM property, and the township’s Bessie Grover Park.
The next steps toward creation of the “SC/SSAAM Campus” are demolition of dilapidated structures on the property and fundraising for the next phase, which includes engineering and architectural work.
“There are many conservation groups in the area, and there are also several historic societies,” said John Buck, SSAAM board president.
“The partnership of SSAAM and the Sourland Conservancy is a unique combination of both fields. Our organizations are hoping ... we can provide a unique museum and educational center that will advance our missions in a way that will enrich the community as well.”
For information, visit ssaamuseum.org
or contact Katmann at 609-309-5155.