Stoutsburg African American Museum Receives Somerset County 2019 Historic Preservation Grant

From left to right, the SSAAM’s Caroline Katmann, Bruce Daniels, Ian Burrow, Elaine Buck, John Buck, and Somerset County’s Kaitlin Bundy and Brian Levine. Photo, Kevin Burkman

The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) received a $326,461 grant award from the Somerset County 2019 Historic Preservation Grant Program earlier this month to complete renovations on the historic Mt. Zion AME Church located at 189 Hollow Road, Montgomery Township. This grant will fund architectural and engineering work and additional renovations to roof, porch, windows, HVAC system and electrical work.

A recipient of Somerset County’s 2016 Historic Preservation Grant and a 2016 New Jersey Historic Trust/1777 Foundation Grant, the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, in partnership with the Sourland Conservancy, has completed many structural, masonry and siding renovations already at the AME Church. In addition, grant funds were used to fund vision planning and write a historic register nomination, as well as demolition and site work.

The mission of SSAAM is to tell the story of the unique culture, experiences, and contributions of the African American community of the Sourland Mountain Region. A ceremonial check was presented to SSAAM President John Buck on October 8, 2019 at the Somerset County Administration Building.

“Speaking for the entire Board of SSAAM and all of our partners & supporters, I cannot begin to thank you for your extreme vote of confidence in our mission to tell the story of the unique culture, experiences, and contributions of the African American community of Sourland Mountain and surrounding regions” stated Buck, during the ceremony. “Your support allows us to make great leaps forward in fulfilling our vision of a strong community partnership while simultaneously educating all on the importance of preserving vital traditions, which will inspire future generations.”

Caroline Katmann, SSAAM Advisory Board Member, added: “We are extremely grateful to the Somerset County Freeholders and the Cultural and Heritage Commission for their strong support. It is very encouraging to those of us involved in the creation of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum to know that so many individuals, government agencies and organizations understand the importance of preserving the Mt. Zion AME Church and of telling the story of African American history in the Sourland region.”

SSAAM also recently purchased property adjacent to the AME Church property, in partnership with the Sourland Conservancy. (The Conservancy’s mission is to protect promote and preserve the unique character of the Sourland Mountain region.) The organizations plan to build program and office space on this newly acquired property.

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