Twenty years ago, the Colonel John Coursen Homestead faced a crisis.
The structure on the corner of Route 94 and Stillwater Road in Fredon was well over a century old, occupied by the family for most of that time, but by the late 1990s had aged badly. It became an outworn piece of property headed for demolition.
A small group of concerned citizens familiar with the building’s history had a vision for the place. They rallied community interest, promising to restore and keep the house as a living history site if the township agreed to maintain the outside structure. This handful of volunteers became the original “Keepers of Coursen’s Corners,” researching and retooling since 2001 to carry out that promise.
With community input, donations from near and far, and living history events held over the years, the Keepers and other volunteers continued working to refine the house. The rooms have been revived as a tapestry, reflecting the changes of the seasons and different periods of its history. They were refurbished and redecorated so that it looks as if the family still lives there.
The shutdown of 2020 severely affected human and financial resources for the house and the Keepers. Following 18 months of being unable to welcome the public, the Keepers are inviting people back to see this special place. They hope you may even start to fall under its spell and become part of its next chapter.
The Coursen House is open for individual or small group tours on two Wednesdays, July 21 and 28; and two Saturdays, July 17 and 24, from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. Keepers will greet guests at the side entrance to sign-in for a tour of approximately one hour, with a suggested minimum donation of $5 per person.
Here’s a chance for families and school-age children to get a glimpse of what life was like before TV, cell phones, and video games. Coursen’s Keepers seek to introduce and interest a new generation of visitors and volunteers of every age who may be willing to lend their time and talents going forward to make it even better.
For information, call 973-997-8862 or 973-383-5315.