Caterer comes to historic Waterloo Village

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A full-service catering company is coming to historic Waterloo Village as part of the Christie Administration's efforts to help revitalize and draw more people to this Sussex County historic site, and as part of an overall state strategy to bring more amenities to the State Park System and make state parks more self-sustaining, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced.

Jeffrey A. Miller Catering (JAM), a Philadelphia-based high-end caterer, was the successful bidder for the contract to lease and manage the Meeting House Compound at Waterloo. The facility will be available for a wide range of functions, including business meetings, picnics, holiday parties, and other special events. The historic canal village is located on the Morris Canal in Allamuchy Mountain State Park.

"This is an important milestone in the rebirth and long-term sustainability of Waterloo Village," said Mark Texel, DEP State Park Service Director. "Adding the talent and experience of JAM to the existing contributions of the park's not-for-profit partners and dedicated State Park Service employees ensures a bright future for this important historic site."

"JAM plans to refurbish the existing event space and assist in building restoration, bringing a new sense of vibrancy to Waterloo Village," said DEP Special Project Advisor Lou Valente. "This partnership is good for the state, the caterer — and, most important, for the public."

The DEP is leasing the Meeting House Compound to JAM for a 10-year term with an option to renew for another 10 years. The Compound includes the Meeting House, comfort station, gift shop and gazebo. These buildings were built in the 1960s and 1970s — all are located adjacent to the Waterloo historic district.

The lease includes a two-phase payment: a monthly rental fee and a percentage of the take above a certain level. The Compound is expected to be opened in the fall.

"We have previously helped restore historic buildings, supported community arts centers and museums, and provided much needed funds for many land trust organizations and arboretums," said Miller, chef-owner of JAM. "This relationship with the New Jersey DEP will allow us to aid in the preservation of this historic site at Waterloo, make it available for weddings and other events, and generate important revenue for the state."

"We endorse the increased sustainability and financial benefits that will be derived from the lease of a non-historic portion of Waterloo Village," said Canal Society of New Jersey President Joseph Macasek. "The new plan will have limited impact on the village's unique historic streetscape while providing funds needed to stabilized and restore the historic buildings. We will be working with State Park to revitalize the village and create a new and better visitor experience."

Waterloo Village began as Andover Forge in the mid-18th century, when a forge, grist and saw mills, and at least three workers houses made up the settlement. In the early 19th century, General John Smith and his sons renamed the village Waterloo, built a general store along the edge of the Morris Canal and operated grist, saw and plaster mills in addition to constructing and renting workers housing.

By the time operations along the Morris Canal ceased about 1903, the Smiths had constructed grand residences and carriage houses for themselves, modified earlier buildings for residential and commercial use, and helped establish the Waterloo United Methodist Church.

The village dwindled in population and activity in the early 20th century.

In the early 1960s, the Waterloo Foundation for the Arts was established to interpret Colonial and Victorian life within the 19th Century infrastructure at Waterloo. The foundation's founders sold the land and structures to the state over a period of years, leasing them back to operate the village as a living history site, while producing musical and arts events. The foundation's mounting financial problems led the state to terminate the lease on Dec. 31, 2006.

For more information on New Jersey's Park System and the State Park mobile app, visit: www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests. For more information on Allamuchy Mountain State Park, visit: www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/allamuch.html. For more information on New Jersey Historic Sites, including Waterloo Village (973-347-1835), visit: www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/historic.




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