A New National Historic Landmark
WALL TOWNSHIP — Camp Evans, the former Army post which sits in Wall Township, was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark last week in recognition of the important contributions the site has made in the history of the United States.
Open today for the public as InfoAge Science History Learning Center and Museum, during WWII the site served as the location where citizens and Army personnel worked on the homefront in developing advanced electronics such as radar, which served as a major factor in the United States’ victory over the Axis powers.
The property was purchased by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America on June 7, 1912, from local Wall farmers. One hundred years later, on its June 7 anniversary, the historic site was awaiting just one signature on its way to being designated as a National Historic Landmark. The final sign-off was given by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, Ken Salazar, last week.
THE ROAD TO HISTORIC LANDMARK DESIGNATION
Shortly after the Army announced the closing of Camp Evans in 1993 as part of its Base Closure and Realignment Commission plans, Wall Township began to support the effort to preserve the site as an educational resource, as it is used today. The township authorized the volunteers of InfoAge, a private nonprofit formed with the intent of saving Camp Evans, to explore the possibility of creating a science center on the site, for which the final plans were approved by the township in 1995.
In 1999, InfoAge volunteers penned a nomination to designate Camp Evans as a historic landmark, which was endorsed by the township and approved by the New Jersey Historic Designation Review Committee in 2000.
With the help of the township and Preservation New Jersey, an organization which advocates for historic preservation to enhance the heritage of New Jersey, InfoAge was able to overcome the Army Federal Preservation Officer’s refusal to sign the nomination, which stalled its progress for 18 months.
In 2002, Camp Evans was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Wall Township was named a Preserve America Community for its dedication to preservation by the First Lady and the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation in 2002.
“WWII and the American Homefront” in 2008, a congressionally mandated National Historic Landmarks Theme Study, recommended Camp Evans be considered for possible National Historic Landmark designation after noting its historical significance.
At the request of InfoAge, National Park Service Historian Robie Lange was assigned to pen the National Historic Landmark nomination, much of which was based upon historical research by InfoAge volunteers at the National Archives, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University the David Sarnoff Library, as well as Harvard and Oxford universities.
The review process associated with a site becoming designated as a historic landmark calls for the site in question to be compared with similar sites across the nation. Dr. Raymond Watson, Ph. D, author of “Radar Origins Worldwide: History of its Evolution in 13 Nations Through World War II”, volunteered his time and expertise to complete the nomination.
In May, Fred Carl, director of InfoAge, along with Mr. Lange and New Jersey State Office of Historic Preservation Historian Bob Craig, presented the nomination before the National Park Service Advisory Board Landmark Committee in Washington, D.C. That committee then gave their approval and forwarded its recommendation to the full National Park Service Advisory Board, which met in Denver, Colo. The full board also voted in favor of the approval and recommend the Secretary of the Interior act upon the designation. Mr. Salazar, the final approval, signed the designation last week.
In its quest to become recognized as a historic landmark, Camp Evans has seen strong support from the Wall Township Committee, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Assemblyman David Rible, Assemblyman Sean Kean, the New Jersey Legislature and Congressman Chris Smith. Local officials came to show their support at a news conference held last Thursday afternoon to commemorate the occasion.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DESIGNATION
Mr. Carl said the national landmark designation further confirms the significance of Camp Evans and the role it has played in the nation’s history.
“It validates our efforts that the site is very historic and is important to major events in our nations development, like WWII and technology during The Cold War,” he said.
The sacrifices made by New Jersey citizens on the homefront at Camp Evans, as well as many locations throughout the county and state during WWII, will now be shared with generations to come.
Posted March 14, 2017