A big thank you to those who responded to my plea in last month’s column for people interested in serving on the Ewing Historic Preservation Commission!

The commission is an official body of the municipal government, which takes inventory of the township’s historic sites, nominates and reviews unlisted buildings for listing on the local historic register, and advises the planning board on proposed changes to historic buildings. Several people expressed interest in serving on the commission, and we are so pleased to be taking steps to add new members.

For those of you also interested in Ewing history, but not in serving on the township preservation commission, you can always attend meetings of the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society. The meetings are held on the second Sunday of the month at 2 p.m. at the Benjamin Temple House at 27 Federal City Road. There’s always an interesting program on local history or a topic closely connected to local history, as well as delicious refreshments afterwards.

The Society also holds an open house and tour of the Benjamin Temple House on the first Sunday of each month, from 2 to 4 p.m. It’s a great opportunity to see the current displays and collections, enjoy a guided tour the rooms, browse the extensive library of historical listings, do some family research, or chat with one of the trustees.

The Benjamin Temple House is truly a Ewing gem, which is often overlooked by residents. It’s set back from Federal City Road, maybe 100 yards from the intersection with Ewingville Road, and sits on Drake Farm Park, land that originally was part of the Drake family farm.

The Temple House, officially known as the Temple-Ryan House, was originally located near the intersection of I-95 and Route 31, but was moved from that location to its current one in the early 70s when construction of I-95 threatened its existence. The core of the house dates to circa 1750, and it has been lovingly cared for and restored by the society and the township. The grounds include an apple orchard and a lovely herb and flower garden. The house and grounds are available for rental for special occasions.

The society hosts an annual flea market, and flower sales in the fall. Information about the organization, its mission, and becoming a member is available on their website.

The 1867 Sanctuary was the site last month for the society’s annual meeting, at which time the membership elected officers and trustees for 2018. Officers elected for 2018 are Carol Hill, president; Mary Ann Midura, vice president; Mark Giallella, treasurer; and Marge Delaney, secretary.

The program for the meeting featured recognition of the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the 1867 Sanctuary with a talk by Dr. Aaron Wunsch, assistant professor of landscape architecture and historic preservation at the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Wunsch spoke about James C. Sidney, a 19th century architect, map-maker, landscape designer, surveyor and engineer, born in England and based in Philadelphia in the mid-1800’s. JC Sidney was the architect of the 1867 Sanctuary on Scotch Road, and Dr. Wunsch spoke about Sidney’s work generally in the Delaware Valley and specifically in Ewing.

The Sanctuary is one of several remaining Sidney structures (primarily homes, schools and banks) still standing and is perhaps the last remaining church building designed by this regionally-renowned architect.

Our town is rich with history, and the commission and the society provide two ways of being involved directly in acknowledging and celebrating that history. Other opportunities in the area abound, and I encourage all to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities to learn, explore, and experience aspects of the past and how they continue to teach and inform us today and into the future.

And don’t forget, one of the State’s great opportunities in this respect is Patriot’s Week, in neighboring Trenton, December 26 to 31, at a variety of indoor and outdoor venues.

May you all have a healthy, happy, historic holiday—and a wonderful new year—as 2017 becomes history.

Do you have a Ewing story to share? Contact Helen at ewingthenandnow@gmail.com.