The 1772 Foundation of Pomfret, Conn., awarded the Lawnside Historical Society a $15,000 grant to fund repairs and restoration work at the Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum. The grant is part of its African American Sites Initiative in partnership with the Northeast office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Mott House has been open to the public as a museum of the Underground Railroad, the clandestine network of safe house and abolitionists who helped enslaved persons escape from bondage, since 2001. The Mott House is considered a rare example of a 19th-century two-story, wooden farmhouse owned by a free Black agent of the Underground Railroad, the Rev. Peter Mott, in a Black town. Lawnside was established in colonial times and eventually became a settlement of manumitted and freedom-seeking people of African descent.
The 1772 Foundation is a true visionary organization that understands how critical their funding is to advance a blossoming African American preservation movement in the Northeast and provide grants to help restore African American historic places. The National Trust is a proud partner of the Foundation. Together we are making a difference to save diverse historic places in the Northeast.
Linda Shockley, Society president, said, "This grant from The 1772 Foundation will help the Society tremendously with essential work to repair the damage done by weather and time. We hope others will be inspired to contribute additional support and pitch in to help preserve this community treasure for generations."
The 1772 Foundation has as its mission "preserving America's historical treasures." The grant will be used to paint the house and repair its chimney, exterior doors, steps, windows and sash, interior plaster and the roof. The application review brought together the National Trust and the New Jersey Historic Trust, both of which have provided grants to the Society for the restoration of the Mott House over 20 years, from initial feasibility study to opening day and beyond.
The Mott House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. All work on it must comply with the standards of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and be approved by the state historic trust. The museum is open each Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and by appointment on other days. A $5 donation is requested for adults and $2 for students. More than 1,000 youth, teachers and history lovers have visited the house-museum annually since its opening.
The Society is seeking additional funding for landscaping, a new fence around the property and to implement a regular maintenance plan for care of the house and grounds. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the Lawnside Historical Society, P.O. Box 608, Lawnside, NJ 08045-0608.
The Lawnside Historical Society, a qualified organization of the New Jersey Cultural Trust, has received a general operatings support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. The Society is a non-profit, federally tax-exempt membership organization dedicated to the preservation of the Peter Mott House and the promotion of Lawnside's heritage as a uniquely African-American town.