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Camp Evans One Signature Away from National Landmark Designation on 100th Anniversary

     June 7, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the purchase of the historic Camp Evans property from local Wall Township farmers by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America.  The announcement appeared in the June 7, 1912 edition of the New York Times and London Times.  The Robinson, Hance and Woolley farms became a massive Trans-Atlantic Wireless Station.

     On this 100-year anniversary, the historic district is one signature away from being designated a National Historic Landmark [NHL]. Once the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, signs the designation, Camp Evans will officially carry the highest historical designation given in the United States.  The camp will be the 10th Monmouth County site and the 55th New Jersey site so designated in the 236 years of the nation’s history.

     This possibility of the camp being designated a National Historic Landmark is due to strong support from the Wall Township Committee, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Assemblyman Dave Rible, Assemblyman Sean Kean, a bill by the New Jersey Legislature and Congressman Chris Smith, according to InfoAge Director Fred Carl.   Additionally, two national park service committees have both recommended the designation to the secretary of the interior.

     On May 17, Mr. Carl, National Park Service Historian Robie Lange and New Jersey State Office of Historic Preservation Historian Bob Craig appeared before the National Park Service Advisory Board Landmark Committee in Washington, D.C. to present the nomination. The committee approved the nomination and forwarded their recommendation to the full National Park Service Advisory Board meeting in Denver, Co., whose members voted to recommend the Secretary of the Interior act upon the designation.

Wall Township started supporting the effort to preserve Camp Evans as an educational resource shortly after the Army announced its closing in 1993. The township authorized the volunteers of InfoAge [a private, non-profit organization formed to save Camp Evans] to explore the creation of a science center at the site.   The volunteers provided information which was incorporated into the Marconi Park Complex Reuse Plan. The township approved the plan in 1995.

The township signed and endorsed the nomination written by InfoAge to list Camp Evans on the New Jersey Register of historic places in 1999 and it was approved by the New Jersey Historic Designation Review Committee in 2000.  The township and Preservation NJ assisted InfoAge to overcome the refusal of the Army Federal Preservation Officer to sign the nomination, blocking its progress toward listing on the National Register for 18 months.

The National Park Service [NPS] listed Camp Evans on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. In 2006, the First Lady and the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation named Wall Township New Jersey's first Preserve America Community for its dedication to preservation.

In 2008, the congressionally-mandated National Historic Landmarks Theme Study, WWII and the American Homefront, acknowledged the historical significance of Camp Evans. The study recommended that this property be evaluated for possible NHL designation.

At the request of InfoAge, the NPS assigned a staff member, Mr. Lange, to write the National Historic Landmark nomination. Much of the nomination was based upon historical research done by InfoAge volunteers at the National Archives, Stanford University, MIT, Princeton University, the David Sarnoff Library and Harvard and Oxford Universities.

The landmark review process calls for the historic site in question to be compared with similar sites in the nation. InfoAge contacted Dr. Raymond Watson Ph. D, the author of “Radar Origins Worldwide: History of Its Evolution in 13 Nations Through World War II.” Dr. Watson provided his unique expertise, as a gift, to complete the nomination.   Bob Craig, of the NJ State Preservation office, estimated the preparation of the nomination would have cost over $50,000 if prepared by paid consultants, rather than motivated volunteers.

At Camp Evans and the numerous Fort Monmouth related WWII installations, citizens helped in developing the advanced electronics required to defeat the Axis powers. New Jersey citizens manufactured the components and complete units sent to the war fronts.

These citizens fought to save democracy and won the “battle of the laboratories” as President Truman stated in August of 1945.

The Wall Township Committee, its citizens and the volunteers of InfoAge are proud to have gone above and beyond in saving this exceptional historic site as a gift to the nation. Future generations will learn about the sacrifices of New Jersey citizens on the WWII homefront in Monmouth County and factories all over New Jersey.

**Editor's note: This article is nearly identical to the page 23 article published in June 7, 2012 edition of the Coast Star.  Ms. Shannon Connelly edited and improved the information supplied by Fred Carl of InfoAge. 

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