Monroe to name historic school after former councilman Miller

Staff Writer

MONROE — The 19th-century historic Prospect Plains Road Schoolhouse will be named after former long-time Councilman Henry L. “Hank” Miller.

The Township Council voted in favor of a resolution of the dedication at a council meeting on Dec. 9.

Miller served as a councilman for 24 years before retiring in 2013. During his tenure, he was instrumental in establishing the Monroe Township Historical Preservation Commission.

The schoolhouse along Federal Road is the only remaining one-room schoolhouse of 16 that served as the local educational facilities until 1936.

The first phase to restore the schoolhouse and barn was underway in August on the site of the Charles Dey farm.

The Dey Farmhouse, which already stands on the site, serves as a museum, packed with historic artifacts ranging from Native American arrowheads to World War II-era news clippings and 1940s television sets, all donated by local residents.

The 16 one-room school buildings were all built between 1838 and 1850, officials said. Those schools were shut down when the Barclay Brook School and the Applegarth School were built in 1936 as part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration.

The school under reconstruction on Federal Road then became the old municipal building on Prospect Plains Road until the current town hall opened in 1982.

It was then periodically used by the local recreation department, as well as utilized as a food pantry until it was taken down and preserved.

The project to restore the schoolhouse and the original Dey Barn is taking place on a 40-acre tract donated by Renaissance Properties, developer of nearby Southfield Estates, in 2001. Monroe received a $1 million grant from Middlesex County to undertake the historic preservation.

Mayor Richard Pucci said he spoke with Council President Gerald Tamburro about doing something special at his last official council meeting as mayor.

He said Miller’s service to the township, which also included a position as chairman of the Planning Board and an educator, made Miller special to not only his administration, but to the entire community.

“We wanted to have a remembrance picture plaque name in honor of your great achievements,” Pucci said to Miller at the meeting.

Miller said it is remarkable how Monroe Township has grown and said the township is fortunate for the many “good people” who live here.

“Ladies and gentleman, it has been an honor to serve … thank you so much for what you have given to me,” he said.

Tamburro said the official ceremony for naming the building would take place in spring 2016.