Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Superintendent John J. Donahue has announced that Peters Valley Craft Center (Peters Valley), a park partner located in Layton, N.J., has received the National Park Service’s 2012 Northeast Region George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service in the Volunteer Group category.
Peters Valley will represent the Northeast Region of the NPS for the national award which will be announced later this month.
The George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service were established in 2002 to recognize the commitment of the Service's most outstanding volunteers. During his nine years as Director of the NPS (1964-1972), George Hartzog created the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) Program, which was born of the need for more qualified personnel at a time when national parks were becoming increasingly popular.
Hartzog said, “When a VIP agrees to share his talents, skills and interests with the National Park Service, he is paying us one of the highest compliments possible by offering a most valued possession – his time.”
Peters Valley Craft Center, located on the New Jersey side of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in what was formerly the village of Bevans, is a non-profit organization founded in partnership with the National Park Service in 1970 to promote and encourage education and excellence in craft. Peters Valley is recognized today as an internationally renowned center of fine craft. Through adaptive reuse, the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings that were once part of an historic rural hamlet now serve as a gathering place and creative space for a thriving community of artists.
Peters Valley's programs include adult summer workshops, youth programs, opportunities for artists, studio programs, public exhibitions, demonstrations, and community outreach. The Center maintains studios in eight disciplines including: blacksmithing, ceramics, fiber surface design, fiber structure, fine metals, photography, special topics and woodworking. Between May and September each year, more than 125 intensive 2-5 day workshops are offered in those disciplines.
Last fall, a tent-style dining pavilion used by the center’s staff, guests and park visitors was destroyed by severe storms that struck the area. Instead of replacing the tent with a similar structure, the staff at Peters Valley sought a permanent, sustainable, and creative solution. It was decided that they would build a new dining pavilion that would create a space for visitors, students, and employees to gather, and provide a venue to host lectures, meetings, and presentations. In creating such a public space they have helped Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area support the NPS mission of providing for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations in a sustainable manner.
The wood used in the construction of the new pavilion was locally sourced and sustainably harvested. Most of it came from trees that fell during the same storm that ruined the dining tent. Some of the lumber for the project was salvaged from a nineteenth-century barn that was removed from another location in the park. The old hand-hewn beams allow for the history of the area to live on in a new form while age-old post and beam construction methods mirror the building methods used in many of the historic structures that make up the surrounding cultural landscape.
“Peters Valley Craft Center made the best of a natural disaster and demonstrated a dedication to sustainable building practices by turning the damage from the storm and the remains of an old barn into something that students, visitors, and employees will be able to enjoy for years to come,” said Donahue. “If ever there were a group of people who could create a finely crafted silk purse from a sow’s ear, it is the dedicated and creative folks at Peters Valley.”
The pavilion was completed with the help of volunteers from several partner organizations associated with the park all of whom demonstrated a collective commitment to creating a community among the various volunteer organizations, local businesses and the NPS, while simultaneously improving park facilities and carrying out the park's mission of sustainable development. Peters Valley recruited and directed the efforts of a team of federal, state, local, and private groups including: the Water Gap Woodturners, the Millbrook Village Volunteer Timber Framers, the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Service, and the NPS.
“Peters Valley Craft Center's commitment to involving so many different individuals and organizations in their project creates the kind of community cooperation for which the NPS strives as part of our mission – a community where various citizens are involved, knowledge is exchanged, and productive partnerships are forged,” said Donahue.
For more information on Peters Valley Craft Center and their programs, visit their website at www.petersvalley.org or call (973) 948- 5202. The Center’s Gallery and gift shop are open daily through the month of December from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.