Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rea House Slated for Historic Renovation

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rea House Slated for Historic Renovation

Article excerpt

HAWTHORNE - The John W. Rea House at Goffle Brook Park has been identified by Passaic County as a key historic site slated for improvements in 2017.

"We're thrilled the county's going to do something with the Rea House. It's an important landmark in Hawthorne," said Jackie Walsh, past president of the Hawthorne Historical Society.

"Since it's in Hawthorne yet it's a county park, we've been talking to the county for years about it," said the society's president, Albert Ianacone. "We were thrilled to get the new roof on [over the summer] so it doesn't deteriorate,." he said.

Now he's also happy the county is going the next step to repair and find new uses for the vacant site that appears on both the state and national registers of historic places.

Public information sessions are anticipated in the near future to discuss uses for what was once a family house, for a short time a hotel and tavern, and eventually county offices and the Boys & Girls Club.

The Rea House is a prime example of Dutch architecture that flourished in the state during the early 19th century, said K.C. Ruffel of the county's newly-formed Department of Cultural & Historic Affairs.

The historic house is also noteworthy because John W. Rea, as a member of E.P. Christy Minstrels, toured Europe, making famous the works of Stephen Foster, who was known for "Beautiful Dreamer," "My Old Kentucky Home" and many other songs, Walsh said. While in Europe, Rea reportedly bought unseen what was considered a farm in North Paterson, part of Manchester Township (now Hawthorne). It included 150 acres and cost $10,000, according to borough historic records.

Rea was also superintendent of schools in Manchester Township before Hawthorne split off from Manchester in 1898, Walsh said.

"Opportunities for reuse of the Rea House are endless," said Ruffel, adding that the county "has embarked on similar endeavors turning historic structures into opportunities for education, such as seen with Lambert Castle, Lambert Tower and the Dey Mansion," she said. …

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