Gathering pieces of history; Weehawken Historical Commission up and running; seeking all types
It's safe to say that Weehawken is a town with a strong sense of pride and a solid aura of historical importance. After all, it is always recognized as the site of the fatal duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in July of 1804, a duel which left Hamilton mortally wounded. But Weehawken is more than Hamilton and Burr. The newly formed Weehawken Historical Commission, which began extensive meetings last month, is going to see to that. Historical Commission Chairman Edward Fleckenstein, a life-long resident of Weehawken, was elated to get the idea up and running with the series of meetings and discussions. "It was important to get started as soon as possible," Fleckenstein said. "We wanted to get started before the summer, because we have a lot of work to do in collecting as much memorabilia about Weehawken as possible." Fleckenstein is aided by Marie Alberian, who serves as the vice-chairman, and Desiree Sosa, wife of Councilman Robert Sosa, who is the commission's secretary. Fleckenstein said that the commission has already discussed plans how to reproduce any materials that are either donated or loaned for the project. "Any types of photographs, old newspaper clippings, post cards and printed records are going to be reproduced electronically, so they are preserved forever," Fleckenstein said. "We're appealing to the public that if anyone has such items that they would like to loan to us, so we can use them for our exhibit in the future." More than likely, the articles collected will be put on display at the Weehawken Public Library. "Right now, I see that as my obligation as chairman," Fleckenstein said. "I want to do as much as I can in collecting these items of memorabilia. And we're not asking to have people donate the items. They can loan them to us and we'll reproduce them and return the items." Another key aspect to the Historical Commission will be the preservation of the famed Weehawken Water Tower, the historical landmark located on Park Avenue. There is a separate committee in place just for the Water Tower, but the Historical Commission is lending its support to the project. At the last Historical Commission meeting, Alane Finnerty, the director of the Water Tower Preservation Committee, spoke to the group and told them the Preservation Committee is seeking a grant of more than $735,000 from the Garden State Historic Preservation, in order to repair and restore Weehawken's most famed landmark, now more than 120 years old. Once the Water Tower is made safe and secure _ it has been vacant for more than a decade and is in need of serious repair _ then there are plans to possibly turn the Water Tower into a commercial center, possibly for office space. There is talk that perhaps the Weehawken Historical Commission's museum could be placed there as well. "It's a special landmark and we're supportive of anything that can be done in preserving the Water Tower," Fleckenstein said. "It would be nice to have the Tower restored and refurbished. It really means so much to Weehawken. It's important to restore the memories of the past and what it was like in Weehawken way back when." That's probably the most important aspect of the Historical Commission, giving the younger generation a sense of what Weehawken once was. "I think we're lucky to have something like this operating," Fleckenstein said. "It's great for the younger people to spark some recollection of the past. We're all of the same mind in the Commission, just making sure that the history of the town is preserved." If anyone is willing to either donate or loan old memorabilia to the project, they can contact Fleckenstein through the Weehawken Public Library.