Request for Proposal: Proprietary House

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL

Preservation Plan & Feasibility Study including Reuse Plan, Conditions Assessment and Concept Drawings for Proprietary House aka Royal Governor’s Mansion, Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey

INTRODUCTION

New Jersey’s role as a literal crossroads and repeated battleground during the eight-year duration of the American Revolution makes the 250th anniversary of our nation’s founding an unparalleled opportunity to elevate the state’s stature as a must-see destination for heritage travelers, and to build pride among New Jerseyans. The Crossroads of the American Revolution Association (Crossroads) and the Proprietary House Association (PHA) are collaborating to re-envision the future of Proprietary House, also known as the Royal Governor’s Mansion, located in Perth Amboy.

The Proprietary House is owned by the State of New Jersey and administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection/State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites (NJDEP).  The basement, first and second floors of the mansion side are leased for a period of 20 years to PHA, a nonprofit organization, for interpretive purposes. The remainder of the building had been developed as rental office space, but all tenant leases have been vacated.

This request seeks proposals to examine the future potential use and interpretation of the building as a historic resource and a community asset. It is critical that input is provided by various stakeholders, including but not limited to the owner, NJDEP, the New Jersey Historic Trust (NJHT), an agency of the N.J. Department of Community Affairs (NJDCA), Middlesex County Commissioners and relevant staff, Perth Amboy Mayor and City Council, local historic preservation commission, and others with an interest in seeing this resource reach its full potential.

Given the building’s historical significance, its physical evolution, the various physical and structural interventions over time, as well as its current condition, the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding provides the perfect opportunity to re-imagine the site’s potential as one resource that can tell stories from multiple eras of American history and to develop a path for its future rehabilitation, appreciation and enjoyment.

BACKGROUND

The Royal Governor’s Mansion was built by the Colonial Proprietors of East Jersey in 1762. It was first occupied by Frederick Smyth, Chief Justice of the Colony, then, in 1774, by William Franklin, who was appointed Governor by the Crown.  In 1809 it became a hotel called the Brighton House, at which time a third floor was added to the main house and the south wing was added. By 1890, the building was used by the Presbyterian Board of Relief as home for disabled ministers, and widows and orphans of deceased ministers. In the 20th century, the building was a boarding house, predominately for newly arrived families in Perth Amboy.

This building was extensively documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) team in the 1930s, resulting in 70 pages of drawings and digital photographs located in the Library of Congress.  Jack Boucher photographically documented this building again in the 1970s. His photographs –- also located in the Library of Congress — have not been digitized but were used in the 1996 Historic Structures Report (HSR).

The State took ownership of the building in 1967, a time when photographic evidence shows the building in deteriorated condition. The HSR provides an account of the various attempts to rehabilitate the Proprietary House between 1967 and 1987.

In the late 1980s, the building underwent extensive renovations using federal investment tax credits. The north wing was predominantly treated as the museum space, while its upper floors and the south wing were leased as commercial tenant space.  PHA currently interprets the basement, first and second floors of the Governor’s residence, conducting tours and holding events in the building and raising funds for its preservation. Over time, NJDEP has vacated the leases and with this RFP will explore options for more appropriate reuse involving the public.

Of particular concern is the exterior façade. At some point, there was an attempt to remove all alterations beyond the building’s 18th century period of significance related to the Royal Governor. The current appearance neither reflects the 18th century appearance nor does it reflect any subsequent period in time. Among other alterations, an elevator was inserted into the museum wing, seriously impeding interpretation.

A Historic Structures Report (HSR) was undertaken by John G. Waite Associates, Architects, LLC, in 1996.  The report was the first comprehensive analysis of the building that addressed preservation of the entire structure. An electronic copy of the document is included in the Dropbox linked to this proposal.

In the mid-1990s, the Proprietary House Association initiated extensive interior restoration of the north wing, partially funded by the City of Perth Amboy and the NJHT.  Extensive photo documentation exists at NJHT documenting this project.  PHA  has been primarily responsible for subsequent improvements supporting the interpretive mission. In 2020, PHA received a special appropriation to use for window restoration and building repointing.

This Request for Proposal seeks to reunite both halves of the building — functionally and architecturally- – and develop a plan to consider future uses for the building incorporating evolution from its 18th century period of significance on into the 20th century, identifying current physical condition and code deficiencies, and develop recommendations for rehabilitation and costs to achieve the plan. While the main focus will be interpretive, the plan should explore options for other types of space usage and appropriate tenancies to promote the building’s long term sustainability as both a state and community asset.

PROJECT TEAM

The successful project team will be led by a historic architecture firm with demonstrated expertise in undertaking similar projects meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for The Treatment of Historic Properties and with proven familiarity with New Jersey’s processes and requirements.  The proposal should identify relevant disciplines needed to aid in this process and clearly identify key personnel, sub-consultants and other relevant team members.

Consultant should include all required components of Preservation Plans, as outlined in Historic Structure Reports & Preservation Plans: A Preparation Guide –- Second Edition HSR-PP-Guidelines-forweb.pdf (nj.gov)

Proposals will be evaluated based on the Project Team’s understanding of the project intent, demonstrated experience with similar projects, the proposed project schedule, and cost to complete the requested scope of work. All work must be in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

SCOPE STATEMENT AND DELIVERABLES

Research

  • As needed to supplement the HSR and as justification for recommendations

Condition Assessment (including structural and mechanical building systems)

Reuse Plan

Develop a plan for interpretation and reuse for the entire building.

  • The 250th anniversary provides the opportunity and potentially the funding to reimagine the Proprietary House, interpreting not only its time as the Royal Governor’s Mansion but respecting its continual occupation from the Colonial era to the post-World War II period and contributions to Perth Amboy’s history and development as a reflection of the American experience.
  • Stakeholder Participation: To ensure sustainability for this resource, the plan must incorporate the ideas and aspirations of the community. To this end, the project team should include a method for seeking stakeholder views and ideas and a process for analyzing the options. The project schedule should identify key milestones where the stakeholders will be able to review progress and have input. Stakeholders will include at a minimum: local and state officials, DEP/Parks and HPO, Crossroads, NJHT, PHA, Middlesex County, and other interested parties.
  • Consultant may consider all options including removal and relocation of the elevator, restoring the exterior façade, changes to circulation, site work, etc., enhanced occupation and staffing, and appropriate tenancies.
  • Consultant should discuss options for the use and interpretation of the entire building and site and develop recommendations for the scope of work to implement the chosen approach.

Code Analysis

Perform code synopsis summary for current and proposed uses (including deficiencies and life safety hazards)

  • Itemize recommendations to comply with code and to support reuse plan

 

Cost Estimates and Phasing (by Priority Level)

Concept Drawings to support Reuse Plan, including Façade Treatment & Site Enhancements

This document and its recommendations will be used to guide next steps and to pursue future funding from governmental and private sources.

Link to Dropbox Documents: click here

There will be a mandatory site visit on:  Thursday, August 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Proprietary House address:

139-151 Kearny Ave.
Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, N.J. 08861

Questions due by: Thursday, August 25

PROPOSALS, ALONG WITH THE PROPOSED SCHEDULE FOR COMPLETION DUE:

  Friday, September 2, 2022 at 3 p.m.

 

Hand Delivery (optional):

Crossroads of the American Revolution Association

101 Barrack Street, Trenton, New Jersey 08608

Submit via email (mandatory): [email protected]

Please include “RFP: Proprietary House” in the subject header

For questions on any aspect of this request, contact:  [email protected]

Questions on Proprietary House RFP

  1. I do not see the Code Analysis referred to in the meeting in the Dropbox. Please provide a link.

Answer: The Abatement Study is in the Dropbox. The link is here

  1. Are the Preservation Plan appendices required? i.e. Are a Maintenance Plan and a Vulnerability Assessment required?

Answer: No

Additional Information

Please note that a heritage tourism study commissioned by Crossroads and mentioned during the mandatory meeting has been added to the Dropbox. The link is here

 

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