The Nutley Sun article 22 June 2000

THE NUTLEY SUN – 22 June 2000

Van Riper House history studied by relatives and state officials
(By James Zoccoli)

Research into the past of the historic Van Riper House has accelerated in recent weeks, with a family from the Netherlands visiting the building and the state taking bureaucratic steps that may ultimately decide the fate of the site.
John and Karen Riper, citizens of Rotterdam, Netherlands, visited Nutley last week as part of their ongoing research into their kinship to the Van Riper family, who constructed the house in Nutley nearly 300 years ago.
“John Riper has traced his family back to 1708, but he hasn’t gotten beyond that date yet,” said Marie Greiner, president of the Van Riper Trust, a group seeking to restore the aging structure.
Greiner pointed out that the “Van” in Van Riper literally means “from.” She said that usage became common in centuries past to better determine a family’s homeland. The fact that John Riper’s name does not include the word Van is not significant, she said.
The Riper family toured the outside of the house June 13 and said they were saddened by its deteriorated condition.
A fire struck the building in January and numerous acts of vandalism over the past 18 months have also done harm to the building.
Just days later, a representative of the New Jersey Register of Historical Places, Trenton, contacted Greiner to facilitate the official designation of the building as an official historic place.
The representative said the designation will enable the township to gain state funding for the building’s restoration.
“The ball is in Nutley’s Court,” said the state representative, who asked that his name be withheld at this time due to legal and bureaucratic considerations.
The representative did say, however, that he is directly involved in processing the historic designation application for the Van Riper House.
“I’m helping evaluate the building,” he said.
An application for the designation was submitted more than a year ago by members of the Van Riper Trust. But the state representative said that draft is now being fine tuned.
“Someone is working on that,” he said.
Assemblyman John V. Kelly, a Nutley resident, has spearheaded a drive to gain $350,000 in state funds to restore the house.
“The Van Riper House is the second-oldest home in Nutley and one of the purest examples of Dutch colonial architecture,” Kelly said.
The legislation was unanimously approved by the Assembly Environment Committee three weeks ago, giving it a needed boost of support as it moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.
“The funds allocated will restore the house to serve as the members of the trust envisioned and to save this important structure of cultural history,” said Assembly Majority Leader Paul DiGaetano, who has vowed to do all he can to push the bill through the full Assembly.
The bill would appropriate funds to the Division of Housing and Community resources in the Department of Community Affairs for the reconstruction of the house.
The state funding, however, is contingent upon the historic designation.
Greiner said she is hoping that the historic designation and the funding would be approved before Trenton finalizes its budget June 30. But state officials have not given any clue regarding if that deadline is likely or even expected to be met.
The Van Riper House was originally built between 1708 and 1733, but was expanded to its current form in 1788.
For information about the historic building, or to make donations for its restoration, write, The Van Riper House, P.O. Box 110031, Nutley, N.J.