DEP FUNDS IMPROVEMENTS
TO NEW JERSEY'S FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORIC SITE
(06/63) TRENTON - Emphasizing the importance
of preserving and maintaining New Jersey's historic landmarks, Department
of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced
that the DEP will spend $150,000 to improve the historic homestead
of the late Dr. James Still, a 19th century medical practitioner
who was renowned for his botanical remedies.
The funding, included in the 2007 state budget Governor Jon S.
Corzine signed in July, will enable the DEP to make structural improvements,
repairs and enhancements to the Medford site. The 8-acre parcel,
which was acquired by the state in February 2006, was at risk of
being demolished to make way for a commercial development.
"I am pleased to announce that the Governor has granted us
funding to repair and restore the first African-American state historic
site," said Commissioner Jackson. "In November, voters
will have an opportunity to support a measure that will provide
a stable source of funding for continued repairs and improvements
at this site and other historic landmarks around the state."
On Nov. 7, New Jersey voters will be asked to consider a constitutional
amendment that would provide a dedicated source of funding - $15
million a year until 2015 and $32 million annually beginning in
2016 - for capital improvements at wildlife management areas, historic
sites and state parks. Without requiring any new taxes, Public Question
2 would allow revenues already generated through the Corporate Business
Tax Fund to be used for capital-improvement projects.
Voters' approval of Public Question 2 would guarantee a stable
source of state funding every year for capital improvements at New
Jersey's parks, historic sites and wildlife management areas.
DEP's Green Acres Program purchased the historic land and building
for $875,000. In addition to the structural improvements and repairs,
the funds will be used to restore the exterior and interior of the
building so that it properly depicts the appearance of Dr. Still's
office during the time he practiced medicine.
The son of slaves, Dr. James Still (1812-1882) was not a trained
or licensed physician. At a time when most doctors relied on unproven
medications, James Still was a distinguished herbalist--a seller
of botanical remedies of his own devising, the superiority of which
gained him a large clientele. Known as the "black doctor"
of the pinelands, early New Jersey settlers came from miles around
to be treated by Dr. Still. With only three months of traditional
schooling, he was a self-taught doctor, using money he earned from
working in a glue factory to buy books on medical botany.
Built in the 1850's, Dr. Still's office was a small unpretentious
one-story frame building. Still's home and office are pictured in
the 1876 Atlas of Burlington County. Although the office still stands,
Still's Victorian house was demolished in 1932.
In addition to practicing medicine, Still was a highly accomplished
writer. In 1877, he published his memoir entitled Early Recollections
and Life of Dr. James Still. The book presents a first-person
account of his childhood, medical practice and his personal insights.
It is considered a classic piece of African-American non-fiction
Dr. Still's son, James Still, Jr., the third African-American in
the United States to graduate from Harvard Medical School, received
his degree in 1871 with honors. Another son, Joseph Still, continued
the legacy and although unlicensed, practiced medicine in Medford
and later in Mount Holly.
To learn more about Ballot Question #2, visit www.njsos.org