(reprinted from The Moorestown Patch--Emma Lee)
It has been the subject of painters and photographers from around the region, a charming reminder of simpler times in a rapidly changing landscape.
The Swede Run barn, also known as the Benner barn, has been declared unsafe by the Moorestown Township engineer and must be repaired or demolished, officials say.
The little building, visible from Westfield Road as you pass the Moorestown Hunt development, sits on a 120-acre parcel called Swede Run Fields, purchased by the township in 2002 with open space funds.
The Alaimo Group reported to the Township Council in July that the 150-year-old structure was dangerous. It estimated that repairs would cost $160,000.
Council members decided that the price tag was too high, so they instructed acting Township Manager Tom Merchel to see if any community groups were interested in taking on the project.
Two groups have expressed an interest: the Eagle Scouts and the Historical Society of Moorestown, according to Tom Ford, director of Community Development.
Mayor John Button said an outside group could probably do the job less expensively than the township could.
“None of us want to see it go,” said Button. “But the expense for what that building is, a small empty structure in very poor condition, at this time it just doesn’t make sense. I’m hopeful that we’ll find a different kind of solution, but if not, we’re going to have to take it down.”
But no one wants to go in that direction, said Ford.
“A lot of people enjoy it. It’s a nice thing to have in town,” Ford said. “The important thing is to get it stabilized so it doesn’t deteriorate further. Complete restoration could take place at any time after that.”
The Historical Society has already begun asking for donations to save the barn.
“This beloved local landmark is one of the few remaining vestiges of Moorestown’s rich farming heritage,” said Historical Society President Lisa Hammell. Donations by check should be made out to The Historical Society of Moorestown with “barn restoration” on the memo line, she said. Donations should be mailed to Julie Maravich. 660 Chester Ave., Moorestown, NJ 08057.