March 05, 2021| Community
By: Marty Kane
The Lake Hopatcong Foundation works to foster a vibrant and healthy Lake Hopatcong and surrounding community through a variety of programs and initiatives. One of our areas of concentration is building a sense of community, including honoring the historical heritage of this once great northeast resort.
Over the past nine years, the Foundation has been involved with and encouraged several important projects of historical importance, which are in various stages of progress.
|Lackawanna Train Station, 1911|
The preservation of the former Lake Hopatcong Train Station (or Lackawanna Train Station) at Landing as the Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s home has been one of our leading efforts. Thanks to substantial governmental, foundation, and public support, we were able to take a wonderful building in disrepair and bring it back to its former glory while making it accessible to the entire community for programming and events.
The station building, originally opened in 1911, has now been restored to much of its original look with the former baggage room converted to our offices, the waiting room into our meeting and presentation area, and the station master’s office into a small kitchen and storage area. The renovation will be completed this year with only the parking lot and road area to be finished once the Landing Bridge is replaced by Morris County in the circa 2022-2023 timeframe.
|Lee's Pavilion, 1930|
Opened in 1924 by brothers Clarence J. Lee and Thomas E. Lee, Lee's Pavilion was once the center of a very active bathing beach, with lockers, changing areas, and a snack bar. In 1994, the Lee family generously donated the land, including the pavilion, to Morris County, creating Lee’s County Park Marina. At that time, the pavilion was still serving as a refreshment stand, however, for some 25 years now, the structure has been largely unused and has deteriorated greatly over time.
Considered a unique structure to both Lake Hopatcong and the surrounding area, similar pavilions, popular prior to World War II, have almost entirely disappeared. In 2014, the Lake Hopatcong Foundation teamed with the Morris County Park Commission (MCPC) and HMR Architects to conduct a feasibility study as a first step to saving the building. While Morris County has always shown interest in the project, the building continued to slide.
Named in 2019 by Preservation New Jersey as one the “10 most endangered historic places in New Jersey,” the project is again moving forward and the MCPC has contracted with noted historic architects Connolly & Hickey. MCPC Executive Director Dave Helmer recently reported that restoration work will commence in October 2021. Discussions are ongoing about the structure’s future use, with the focus to date being a community space with the ability to accommodate parties and events.
|Hopatcong State Park Fountain|
For many years, thousands of visitors coming to Lake Hopatcong were welcomed by the beautiful fountain flowing at Hopatcong State Park. In recent years, this near century-old symbol of Lake Hopatcong has unfortunately been largely forgotten and now sits idle and neglected.
In addition to its aesthetic qualities, the fountain at Hopatcong State Park is one of the most important surviving legacies of the abandonment of the Morris Canal. Located in the Morris Canal Historic District, the fountain was designed by Cornelius C. Vermeule, Consulting and Directing Engineer in charge of the dismantling of the Morris Canal, to settle legal issues concerning the flow rate of water from Lake Hopatcong to the Musconetcong River.
In 2014, the Lake Hopatcong Foundation received a grant from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund to produce a preservation plan for the fountain. Since that preservation plan was produced, the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum has overseen the continuation of efforts to restore the fountain through significant volunteer engineering analysis and the testing of pipes and other parts of the fountain structure led by local engineer Bob Rung and engineering student Justin McCarthy. In addition, the Museum is seeking additional grant funding to develop construction plans to move the restoration work forward.
|Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club|
In 2020, the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club completed a renovation to its 1910 clubhouse. Listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places, the club’s architecture was restored to its original symmetrical look while the upper porch was made usable for the first time in decades. The renovation improved the functionality of one of the lake’s most iconic structures while retaining and enhancing its attractiveness for the Lake Hopatcong community.
As we move forward, we hope there will be many success stories to detail as Lake Hopatcong works to maintain the distinctive character which once made it one of America’s leading resorts and continues to make it a wonderful place to live today.