Noting Those Who Help In Historic Preservation

Posted: March 10, 1991

Even if they are crumbling with age and neglect, the old structures that dot the landscape of Burlington County are pieces of history to Nan Pillsbury.

So Pillsbury has made an advocation of charting and recording a number of historic buildings throughout the region that have become part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Last year, she was named the winner of one of two annual Burlington County Historic Preservation Awards given to people who or organizations that have rehabilitated, preserved or planned a significant historical restoration project.

The Evesham Historical Society won the second award in the "preservation planning" category for the restoration of the Inskeep-Higgenbotham House on North Locust Avenue in Marlton.

Now, the Burlington County Cultural and Heritage Commission is seeking nominations for this year's awards. The deadline is March 22.

Putting together the detailed information that finally earns a building National Register distinction is kind of a "detective story" for Pillsbury, who lives in Moorestown.

"I become determined to find out all that I can about a building," Pillsbury said. "And from there I begin searching through old records and deeds to piece the information together."

Since her interest in historical structures began in 1969, Pillsbury has been instrumental in helping seven structures in the county become placed on the National Register. Being named on the register denotes that the building is a structure with historical significance to the area, possibly making it eligible for state or federal grant money.

The project that won her the county award last year was preparing the nomination of the Moorestown Friends Meeting and School Complex to the National Register.

The annual award is part of a program designed to celebrate Historic Preservation Week from May 12 to 18. By recognizing efforts at historic preservation, the county hopes to increase awareness of architectural heritage.

Pillsbury was named the winner of the award in the "historical preservation" category for physically measuring the dimensions and internal structure of the 1802 Friends Meeting House and six buildings within the complex, on Chester Avenue and Main Street in Moorestown. She drew floor plans to scale and did title search and photography work on the buildings.

She also composed architectural descriptions and researched and documented the historical significance of the buildings as required for the national designation. After her 10 years of work on the project, the complex finally gained placement on the National Register last year.

Sylvia Bakley, president of the Evesham Historical Society, said her group preserved the Inskeep-Higgenbotham House in Marlton as a "permanent reminder" of the agricultural roots of the area, which has become a suburban haven of residential developments and shopping centers.

"We want the children who are growing up in the township now to know that the area was once a farming area and had been for centuries until the last 10 years," Bakley said. "I think they will learn a lot when they visit the house."

John Inskeep's 1771 farmhouse will be used as a museum and headquarters for the historical society. The work accomplished includes preserving the original

windows, reshingling the roof, mending and rebuilding the chimneys, repairing and replacing the porch, and clearing the lawn of brush and damaged trees.

Pamela Johnson, coordinator of the awards program, said it was established by the county Cultural and Heritage Commission about 10 years ago.

For information about nominations, contact Johnson at 265-5958.

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