Noah Hunt farmhouse restoration targeted for 2009 completion

Eyed for Lawrence-Hopewell Trail ranger headquarters

By John Tredrea
   A long-vacant, ramshackle Hopewell Township farmhouse dated to 1750 will be restored with an eye to the structure’s becoming the future ranger headquarters of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail (LHT).
   Funding for the restoration of the boarded-up Noah Hunt House will come from two New Jersey Historic Trust Capital grants, totaling more than $750,000, county spokesman Peter Daly said Monday. The county must match the grant funding on a dollar-for dollar basis in order to get the money from the state.
   A contract for the project is expected to be awarded at the end of July, he said, and construction could start toward the end of the year with completion sometime in 2009.
   The Noah Hunt farmhouse is in the northern tip of Mercer County Park Northwest. The house is at the end of a long driveway off the northern side of Blackwell Road, between Federal City and Cold Soil roads.
   ”The Noah Hunt property holds special significance in that it is one of the earliest settlements in Mercer County,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “It is truly a window to the past, and our project to rehabilitate and refurbish this home will hopefully bring history alive. My hope is that it will allow our residents and visitors to Mercer County to learn more about our past and that this preserved property will really be an attraction in this region.”
   Mr. Daly said county planning officials regard the Hunt house as architecturally significant and say that, while the exterior is in ramshackle condition, the interior is in surprisingly good shape. The house is surrounded by a tall fence. The entrance to a large barn behind the house has been almost completely covered by trees and brush. The house, which housed tenants for a number of years, has been unoccupied since the 1980s. It was built in several phases, the with the earliest completed around 1750.
   Current plans are to use the restored Hunt house as a ranger headquarters for the under-construction LHT, a 20-mile looped path for pedestrians and cyclists that will link Lawrence and Hopewell townships.
   ”Timing for the Hunt House renovations couldn’t be better, given that more than half of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail’s 20-plus mile route could be completed this year,” said Becky Taylor, co-president of LHT.
   ”We understand that the LHT will be given some space at the Hunt House, and also that the LHT route through Mercer County Park Northwest and Rosedale Park will be designated, mowed and marked with signage this year,” she noted. “This is major progress on all fronts. We are excited.”