Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Last Chance for Mill?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Last Chance for Mill?

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- Activists trying to save a historic mill from demolition have approached two City Council members for help in devising a last-minute plan to prevent the former factory from becoming a pile of bricks.

But their involvement may come too late for the former home of John Royle & Sons Machine Works, a 19th-century edifice that has been deemed eligible for listing as a national landmark. The complex is being razed by its owner to lessen the site's tax burden pending development, according to the city's historical chairman. Although the original portion of the factory complex still stands, a crane on Tuesday continued to claw at piles of wood and brick -- the remnants of buildings at the site postdating the factory.

Activists' calls for government officials to intervene have yielded little result, showing just how difficult it can be for ordinary citizens to preserve pieces of history that are privately owned and not officially designated as historical landmarks. Such designations are pivotal because they give government greater power in deciding whether a building should continue to stand. If the Royle mill had been designated as a city landmark, for instance, the Paterson historic preservation chairman could have made a case to halt demolition.

But with the commission virtually powerless, a hodgepodge group of neighborhood leaders, concerned residents and history buffs has rallied to the effort. They've left fliers at City Hall urging passers-by to "Stop the Demolition Now" and sent emails to Mayor Jeffery Jones asking him to bargain with the owner. They are appealing to city officials to find some kind of tax relief to offer.

Royle family legacy

The building, erected in 1888 at Essex and Straight streets, is architecturally significant and, more important, represents the legacy of the Royle family, say demolition opponents. The Royles, immigrants from England who settled in Paterson, invented hundreds of machines that were used for manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. Several pieces are preserved in the Smithsonian.

Preservationists also pointed out that the building was deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in architectural surveys conducted by the city in 1978 and 1996. …

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