BY: Najla Alexander
Morris County officials announced the Morris County Historical Society received a $15,000 grant from the Morris County Board of County Commissioners.
Officials say it happened this week through the county's Small Business Grant Program, designed to aid nonprofits and local entrepreneurs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Historical Society (MCHS), founded in December 1945, has established itself as the center for artifacts and publications connected to Morris County's extensive history. The nonprofit advocates for preserving Morris County's historical resources from Acorn Hall, the Victorian Italianate country home of the Crane-Hone family.
Built-in 1853, it was donated to the society in 1971 and has since operated as a headquarters and museum.
Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director John Krickus presented the $15,000 grant to Amy Curry, MCHS Executive Director, inside Acorn Hall on Tuesday after touring parts of the preserved home, which is furnished with original family pieces and art from the 19th Century, officials reported.
"This is a very, very welcome grant. We were forced to close Acorn Hall and offer free online and outdoor programming to keep people engaged with the Morris County Historical Society during the pandemic," said Executive Director Curry.
"Unlike many local history-focused organizations, which are supported by their municipalities, we're an independent member-supported organization. Nearly all the funds we receive, otherwise, including state, local, and foundation grants, are through highly competitive processes."
The society lost funding during the pandemic when lockdowns forced a suspension of its annual activities, including group tours, fundraisers, and general admission to Acorn Hall.
"More than 40 local cultural and historical groups qualified for grants under our unique Small Business Grant Program, which is important because their activities contribute greatly to our economy," said Deputy Director Krickus.
Morris County Small Business Grant Program, which the Commissioners created through a unique use of American Rescue Plan Act funds, was launched on Valentine's Day.
The application process was closed on Sept. 30, with an estimated 750 applications approved, and many more are still undergoing review.
The MCHS is one of many nonprofits that benefited through the program.
MCHS maintains an extensive archival and object collection of nearly 15,000 historical items drawn largely from Morris County but also from other parts of New Jersey.
Executive Director Curry noted during the visit by Commissioner Krickus that MCHS also holds one of the wealthiest, most diverse historic costume collections outside of New York City.
MCHS also has an archive of business and legal records from Morris County's earliest days, including records from once-prominent families, documents on commemorative events, and area atlases and maps.
Acorn Hall was the ancestral home of four Crane-Hone family generations. The MCHS has steadily worked to preserve the house and its original furnishings as they appeared in the 19th Century.
The home now reflects its earliest known exterior and interior designs and features artworks adorned the house in its earliest days.