One Pond property faces its demise, the other joins the historic registry
By: Sarah Wilson
Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther announced that the Old Pond School, located on Manchester Road in Wildwood, was on Nov. 6 placed on the National Historic Registry.
“So we have a good piece of history here in the city of Wildwood,” Woerther said. “Congratulations to everybody working on that.”
He said a plaque would eventually be placed on the building and that in the near future the city would hold a ceremony to celebrate.
Over the years the city renovated and restored the building – the third of four Pond schools – to hold it as it originally appeared.
The Old Pond School was built on land that the Dreinhofer family, one of Wildwood’s earliest pioneering families, donated in order to build the first Pond School for the children of the area.
The second Pond School was constructed around 1880 on the same piece of land.
After the turn of the century, the wooden schoolhouse caught fire and burned to the ground. Following the fire, plans were made to construct a new modern Pond School on the property – the third Pond School.
With the reorganization and consolidation of the area school districts in the 1950s, a decision was made to construct a new more modern fourth Pond School just west and within sight distance of the old school. It is this Pond School that is still in operation as an elementary school in the Rockwood School District today.
The original school property was donated in 1999 to the city of Wildwood, which made a commitment that the school would be renovated and restored as it had once appeared and would be eventually opened to the public as a meeting facility and small museum. The surrounding outdoor property would also ultimately become a public park operated and maintained by the city.
“I knew it was a significant enough structure to be placed on the National Registry,” said Lynne Martin, chair of Wildwood’s Historic Preservation Commission.
She said the city now has four properties on the National Historic Registry.
“We are just trying to save some of our history,” she said.
In the meantime, things are not looking as good for the former Pond Hotel, also located on Manchester Road. After a long history of considering its restoration, the building is on its final straw – and has been for a while.
Joe Vujnich, Wildwood director of planning and parks, said nothing has been done yet, “but it just continues to deteriorate to the point now, where I think more and more people are kind of recognizing that it’s not going to be restored and that it’s just becoming more of a problem than anything else.”
“Nothing has really changed over the last few years, but every once in awhile, someone will bring it up and we’ll look at it and think, what should we do?” Vujnich said.
Martin said it is up to the property owner to make any decisions regarding its demolition.
Scott Keller, current owner of the Pond Hotel, originally had plans for the vacant property when he purchased it in 1995, but Vujnich said the last time he spoke with him, Keller was more inclined to remove the building.
Vujnich said he would be contacting Keller about his current plans for the property.
“But it’s a pretty significant, historic feature in the old community of Pond, and it would be a shame to lose it,” Martin said.