Preservation in New Jersey

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, In The News, Old House History
Old Farmhouse Saved By New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program

Old Farmhouse Saved By New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program

It seems like for as long as I can remember I have heard jokes about New Jersey. I grew up thinking the state must be nothing but highways and strip malls; an asphalt and concrete suburb of New York City and Philadelphia. My first visit to the state was in 1971 and my opinion changed dramatically during my time there. I have returned many times since then, and it seems like every time I’m there I find something more to like about the state.

Like most states on the East coast, New Jersey has its share of busy highways, and there are definitely some areas of the state that have seen better days, but what state doesn’t have those? New Jersey also has many quaint little towns and villages full of beautiful old houses scattered throughout the state, and old farms and farmhouses that go back through generations of families who worked the fields. New Jersey is doing what it can to make sure those old farms continue to produce crops instead of new subdivisions.

The New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program

New Jersey understands that after a lifetime of hard work farmers can be tempted by the big bucks developers offer for the limited supply of undeveloped land in the state. The New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program allows farmers to sell their old farmhouses and farms to the state for amounts approaching those that developers would pay. The farmer and his family can enjoy their retirement years, and the farm and farmhouse can never be used for anything other than agricultural purposes once they are in the program. The farmer can even just sell the development rights of the property to the state, and continue to work and live on the farm.

Once the farm is in the program it can be sold or auctioned by New Jersey, but one of the stipulations of the sale is that it remain in the preservation program and never be developed.

New Jersey and Historic Preservation

New Jersey is a state full of historic old houses and buildings, and organizations such as Preservation New Jersey are working hard to save and restore them. Preservation New Jersey is a private organization founded in 1978 and made up of people concerned with preserving the historic structures that are a part of the state’s heritage. Preservation New Jersey publishes an annual list of the ten most endangered historic sites in the state and works throughout the year to save them.  The old house enthusiasts of this great organization are always active during National Preservation Month and publish a quarterly preservation newsletter.

It seems the state everyone likes to joke about could teach us all some lessons on how successful preservation programs can be implemented.


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  1. 4 Responses  to “Preservation in New Jersey”

  2. Ricky
    Aug 29, 2011
    Good to see New Jersey having some positive news coming from it...There are a lot of hidden trusts that just have money sitting in them, talk to your mortgage broker who has been in the business for a long time and ask them about them, they can usually dig up some stuff.
  3. Ron Emrich
    Aug 29, 2011
    Glad you found New Jersey! And thanks for the shout out to Preservation NJ. Our organization also accepts donations of preservation easements on historic properties: another way to capture value and protect landmarks forever. (
  4. Aug 29, 2011
    My family felt the same way in 1960 when we drove from Illinois to NJ...along the NJ Turnpike. Then we discovered Westfield, a charming Colonial town, rich in history. We recently sold our home, built in 1763, to our daughter and son-in-law. We now live in a 110 year old cottage that we renovated. As a realtor, I specailze in antique and historic homes and there are many in New Jersey...such treasures they are! Because of my specialty, I get the opportunity to see several antique gems and the quaint towns where they 'reside'. Anyone who lives in NJ appreciates the history and the people who care for the historic propterties...anyone who has not been to our lovely state is in for a real treat! New Jersey is rich in its History!
  5. Bob
    Aug 29, 2011
    We have similar problems in Colorado (ranch land turned into residential subdivisions). Luckily, many land trusts have got aggressive about educating landowners about Conservation Easements, which can make money for the landowner, but ensures that the property remains undeveloped.