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What Should Go Here: The River Building

Centuries-old building remains vacant alongside South Branch of the Raritan River.

It's been vacant for years, looming over the South Branch of the Raritan River for more nearly 150 years. 

The River Building, as it has been called, is made of stone and sits at the corner Schooley's Mountain and East Mill Roads. Much of it is covered by trees, portions of the building somewhat dilapidated. 

But it's history is rich, according to Washington Township Historical Society President Betsy Guzenski.

"It originally had a blacksmith shop in the basement, a woodworking shop on the first floor and a paint shop for wagons on the second floor," Guzenski said.
"A ramp on the river side of the building was used in order to get the wagons up to the second floor using only man power. They housed the paint shop on the second floor because there was less dust and it tended to be warmer and drier.

"Later the bottom floor was used as a store," Guzenski said. According to Lou Staiano, she said, "The front steps were, for years, the gathering place for the young men of the village, their main objective to whistle at passing girls."

A flurry of business took place in the historic building, it seems, but now stands untouched and for sale.

So, Long Valley, tell us what you'd like to see occupy this historic building. Let your imagination run wild and explain in the comments what you'd like to see put in that building.

Douglas Nelson May 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM
It could be an ideal spot for local artisanal products, pottery,paintings, photographs and books. If manned by volunteers it could contribute to the community as part of the Long Valley Historical Society. Douglas Nelson
Hookerman May 30, 2012 at 12:21 PM
It should remain as a historical museum. The group that restored it has done a phenomenal job, and they should now reach out to local schools and scout groups to offer educational tours for a fee to offset costs.
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) May 30, 2012 at 01:02 PM
@Hookerman - Sorry for the confusion, but this building actually is for sale ($199,000, according to the listing agent), and is located next to the mechanic at the corner of Schooley's Mountain Road and East Mill Road. I think you might be referring to the actual Historical Museum at 6 Fairview Avenue (which is beautiful, by the way).
Claire May 30, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I think Hookerman was referring to Obadiah LaTourette Grist and Saw Mill Restoration Project. its a few buildings down on E Mill.
L. Mc May 30, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Sadly that spot is tough. Parking & walkways are also an issue. If you have ever tried walking that section, along East & West Mill, you are wise to beware of the crazed drivers curbing the corner. Add the auto body next door & it becomes undesirable for a food establishment. There would also be Restaurant Village to compete with. We need a central-pull for that section of town. A draw that will bring people walking in not driving as there is no parking. Wish I had a suggestion. Maybe this will spark an idea for someone else.
Joseph Keyes May 30, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I’m thinking an eatery would be a nice compliment to the restored Brew Pub building and expand the Valley’s restaurant section. Additional parking may be acquired with through some horse-trading with Zion and/or adjacent property owners (depending on historic preservation statuses).
Kevin May 30, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Here is an interesting idea!!! How about nothing goes there and we keep it as a historic building? We have plenty of other empty buildings and stores throughout town!
Hookerman May 30, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Yes, I was referring to the grist mill, and it's my mistake. I should have read the article more closely before commenting. This building is the original Lyman Kice store, which served valley residents for years. Hopefully it can be saved for its historical value.
suemilys May 30, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Art gallery on the first floor with rentable Artist studios on the second floor. Would be great if was used as somewhat of a Community Arts Center with revolving exhibits from community members and beyond. Also great for fundraisers.
jesscott May 30, 2012 at 03:31 PM
This is all true. I look at that building everyday and note that it is a shame that no one has restored it, considering the tremendous work done to other buildings located nearby. The location is a pure hindrance to walk in type business. May serve well for a local office of a small service type business though. Enough with the eateries already. how many restaurants does a town need anyway?
Eileen Stokes May 30, 2012 at 03:36 PM
The Historic Preservation Commission would love to work with someone on restoring this fabulous stone building. Art work against the interior stone walls would look super. It also would make a fine office for a low traffic professional. The building does own parking. I am uploading two early photos of it. If you look closely at the one labeled Lyman & Kice you can just barely see the ramp/steps on the left.
Eileen Stokes May 30, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Apologies, I should have typed that the photo says "Kice and Stephens."
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) May 30, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Thanks so much for uploading the photos, Eileen!
I. U. Mayo May 30, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Unfortunately a really tough spot for anything except an empty old building. Personally, and I know this is not going to be popular, I would like to see the downtown area of Long Valley revamped. I would like if the original, historical buildings that could be saved were, and those that are not too damaged and in a good location, then restored. The above mentioned building, however, seems to be in such a bad spot and in such a poor location, that I don't think it can or should be salvaged. What truly hurts the old LV downtown is lack of space. It is choked out by the river and roads; no where to grow or go. If money were not an issue, perhaps rerouting some roads is in order to make more room. The area should be like Main St. in Chester Boro.
Jennifer Simon May 30, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Yes, we need space and resources for artists. There are 27 ball fields and a lot of money spent on sports on this town and nothing but Long Valley Arts (is that still going) for artists both young and old!
Claire May 30, 2012 at 09:41 PM
I.u. Sorry Chester is half a ghost town. As much as the Chester folks hated the flea market, once it was gone the Turkeyfarm and most business went under.
Cuse 44 June 02, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I have lived in Long Valley for 4 years now and have admired this building everytime I drive past. I am a commercial general contractor who has done much of the restoration work on Ellis & Liberty Island. Restoring old buildings is my passion. The problem with this building as noted by everyone is location, parking and its small footprint for current retail/ resturant, etc. A museum for local/ historial is a great idea. I would be willing to help repair this old building to its original prominence.
Sue Underwood June 02, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Granted we do need more ratables but to emulate what Chester Boro has would be too much for our traffic system to cope with. That was one reason the idea of the antique market near the Middle School was unsupported. I understood that this historic ruin was owned for years by the Chester Carrousel owners who also own the Lamington General Store. The requirement to connect to the sewer system and the issue of being located in the flood plan was a detrimental factor apparently and they declined to install the necessary plumbing and so it made the structure unable to be occupied. So that needed improvement is an added expense for any potential buyer. I have lived here 28 years and wish the building had been at least cleaned up, made structurally safe and perhaps become an annex to our historical museum. That would require the town to purchase it or a community drive to take it on ourselves. Perhaps like the volunteer work that was responsible for much of the renovations to the Grist Mill, maybe this is another task for the locals to help preserve.

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