Township receives $233K for Fishing Creek School

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 LOWER TOWNSHIP – The township has received a $233,000 grant from the state’s Department of Community Affairs to complete its overhaul of the historic Fishing Creek School.

“This grant will cover the costs associated with the opening of the historic structure to the public, including restroom facilities and Americans with Disabilities Access,” according to Deputy Mayor Norris Clark. “It’s happy new year news for the Lower Township community.”

The schoolhouse, located on Bayshore Road in the Villas section of the township, was built in 1888 on land donated by a farming family. According to the Friends of Fishing Creek School, there were as many as eight one-room schoolhouses in the lower Cape May region through the 1920’s, but they fell into disuse as transportation improved and students could be sent to larger schools.

A group of private citizens, including Clark and Mayor Michael Beck, helped form the Friends of Fishing Creek School to restore and preserve the school. The group’s website says the school will help foster local “heritage, various educational, recreational and cultural programs” and benefit Lower Township and the surrounding community.”

The school is included on a proposed map for the Bayshore Heritage Byway, a route highlighting natural and cultural landmarks along the Delaware Bay.

“This excellent news caps all our private fundraising for the restoration of the schoolhouse as a community treasure,” said Friends chairman John Louderback, of Gaiss’ Meat Market. “Thanks to the efforts of many good people, the general exterior is completed.”

Clark announced the grant award at the township’s reorganization meeting on Jan. 3. He said the plan is to put the schoolhouse back to use for afterschool educational programs and community events.

“It’s full circle, really. This is how this building should be used,” said Clark.

The school was sold at public auction in 1926 and subsequently used as a summer home. In 1998, community members began efforts to save the building and, in 2002, the school was purchased by the state’s Green Acres program and leased to Lower Township for 20 years.

Last summer the school’s grounds were used to host a well-attended series of free musical events put on by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC).


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