Our Headquarters at the Historic Darlington Schoolhouse


Darlington Schoolhouse November 2015

A new chapter in the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference’s history began April 7, 2015, when a ribbon-cutting ceremony completed the move into the organization's new headquarters at the Darlington Schoolhouse in Mahwah, New Jersey. The Trail Conference worked with many partners since 2004 to acquire, stabilize, restore, and repurpose the historical landmark, which borders the Ramapo Valley County Reservation and now helps to serve the non-profit’s goal of protecting and promoting access to the outdoors.


Darlington Schoolhouse was built in 1891 as a gift to the Mahwah community by Alfred B. Darling and Theodore Havemeyer, who owned farm estates on Ramapo Valley Road. Designed by architect Dudley Newton, this building is listed in the New Jersey (2007) and National (2008) Registers of Historic Places. Local children attended classes in the building until the 1940s, and it later housed a dance school and carpentry shop.

The schoolhouse sat empty for nearly 40 years before the Trail Conference and the Township of Mahwah jointly purchased the building in 2007. With meticulous attention to detail, Darlington Schoolhouse was restored in two phases: Phase 1, completed in 2012, included structural stabilization, exterior renovation, climate control, and utilities, while Phase 2 involved the interior renovation of the original 4,400-square-foot schoolhouse and construction of a 3,700-square-foot, two-story addition. On March 25, 2015, the Trail Conference officially opened its doors at 600 Ramapo Valley Road to the public. Visitors are encouraged to stop by to purchase maps, books, and memberships, sign up for volunteer opportunities and workshops, and learn more about the organization.

Funding was provided in part by the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust administered by the New Jersey Historic Trust/State of New Jersey, and the Bergen County Historic Preservation Trust Fund, a part of the Bergen County Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, Farmland & Historic Preservation Trust Fund Program. Additional support came from public and private grants, Trail Conference members, and the community.

We are in the process of updating this page to include a full history of Darlington Schoolhouse, a photo timeline of the restoration and renovation process, and more. In the meantime, find more information below and on our Darlington Schoolhouse blog.


March 25, 2015

Trail Conference Officially Opens New Headquarters at Darlington Schoolhouse

A new chapter in the Trail Conference’s 94-year history begins April 7, when a ribbon-cutting ceremony completes the move into the new headquarters at the Darlington Schoolhouse in Mahwah, New Jersey. The Trail Conference has worked with many partners since 2004 to acquire, stabilize, restore, and repurpose the 124-year-old historical landmark, which borders the Ramapo Valley County Reservation and now helps to serve the organization’s goal of protecting and promoting access to the outdoors. “While this day has been a long time coming, I don’t regret taking care, every step of the way, to build a headquarters that represents our values and enables us to better accomplish our mission of connecting people with nature,” said Edward Goodell, Trail Conference executive director.

Read more about the move into our new office.

March 5, 2015

Headquarters Near Completion! 

February 3, 2015

A Headquarters for All 

The Trail Conference will soon unveil a Limited Use/Limited Access (LULA) elevator at the new headquarters for the benefits of visitors with mobility-related disabilities. The project has been made possible through grants from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the William Froelich Foundation.

In 2006, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation awarded the Trail Conference funds to support the development and construction of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)-accessible summit trail at Bear Mountain State Park in New York. Completed in 2011, this 1.3 mile Appalachian Trail loop includes a 0.4-mile section of accessible walkway

Nature lovers of all abilities now have the opportunity to experience a wooded trail to a majestic viewpoint that was previously accessible only by foot. The path was enthusiastically welcomed by trail lovers of all levels of ability and was featured on the ABC news program, Good Morning America. 

Click to read more on our ADA accessible headquarters

January 21, 2015

Finding William Morris in the Darlington Schoolhouse Project: Arts and Crafts Architecture, Historical Preservation and Ecosophy

It should come as no surprise that medievalist, David Kopp, has taken great interest in the Trail Conference’s future headquarters at the historic Darlington Schoolhouse.  The original building, completed in 1891, captivates visitors for its beauty, its historical value, its architecture, and its positioning as a neighbor to the popular Ramapo Valley County Reservation.

In an article submitted to Trail Walker, Kopp expounds on the influence of nineteenth century English textile designer and eco-socialist activist, William Morris, upon Darlington Schoolhouse architect, Dudley Newton.

Kopp describes the roots of the Arts and Crafts style of architecture used in the design of the Darlington Schoolhouse, a style William Morris who, compassionately observing the working poor suffer in their polluted environs, believed the most promising solution to be “people-built structures where materials were found around them in the fields and woods.”  He challenged the environmental abuse of the Industrial Revolution and longed for the simplicity of medieval life.

Morris was an instrumental organizer in creating the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings which focused on preventing the haphazard and historically insensitive “restoration” of buildings from the past. The Trail Conference has worked in conjunction with the New Jersey Historic Trust and Bergen County Historic Preservation Advisory Board to carefully ensure the integrity of the original building in the restoration.  The new addition, though harmonious with the original structure, does not attempt to be an exact copy, rightly allowing the historic building its individual distinction. Kopp writes in his exposition, “Morris would enthusiastically applaud this effort.”

Click to read Kopp's full article: Finding William Morris in the Darlington Schoolhouse Project: Arts and Crafts Architecture, Historical Preservation and Ecosophy

David Kopp, Litt. D, member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the William Morris Society, serves as a member of the Trail Conference Membership and Development Committee.  

December 9, 2014

Projects to Enhance Trail Conference Headquarters

This November, as the fall weather rolled in and leaves changed color, ten 500-foot wells were drilled for the geothermal system that will heat and cool the building.  By circulating water through the 5,000-foot loop, the geothermal system will use the stable temperature of the earth to cool the building in the summer and warm it in the winter.   Present estimates show the geothermal system using one-third of the energy of a conventional system.
The Trail Conference will preserve the wetlands surrounding its headquarters. George Trakas, the world famous Environmental Sculptor, has envisioned the design of the Preserve, and the Trail Conference will make that design a reality.

October 21, 2014

Benjamin Moore donates 100 gallons of paints and stains for Headquarters

Benjamin Moore and Co. is donating 100 gallons of paints and stains for the Headquarters. This gift, valued at $4,000 at retail value, represents most of the interior and exterior coatings needed for the historic building and its addition, which will become the Trail Conference’s headquarters in 2015. The addition will include an environmental education and visitors’ center.
The in-kind donation was announced today by Trail Conference Executive Director Ed Goodell, who said, “We are delighted to have Benjamin Moore’s 125-years of expertise on our team.  This corporate gift enables us to both protect this historic building for the public to enjoy and allow us to stretch every penny to do the best restoration job possible.”

September 10, 2014

Our construction team holds a job meeting every other week to discuss the progress and progression of construction at the Darlington Schoolhouse. The team members update each other on the prior two weeks’ worth of work, as well as, projections for the next two weeks. These meetings are quality control to ensure each project underway is being done correctly and to trouble shoot obstacles as they arise. This is especially the case with construction occurring in the existing building, which needs to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties. Currently, we are on target to finish construction by early 2015!

Click to find out team members in photo

August 21, 2014

Help Us Secure Darlington's Future 

The Darlington Schoolhouse is changing every day as local construction workers install cedar shingles on the roof, dig wells outside for the geothermal heating/cooling system, and begin plastering the interior walls of the addition out back. Anyone driving by on Rt. 202 and Darlington Avenue in Mahwah can see progress being made on the Trail Conference’s future headquarters. Standing sentinel out front, in the midst of all this activity, is the yellow and red thermometer that has registered the progress of our $3 million capital campaign since it began in 2013. Pledges and gifts so far add up to $2.4 million, thanks to the generosity of hundreds of individuals, foundations, and corporations who care about the Trail Conference and this unique historical building.

I wish we could say that all this construction means our fundraising efforts have come to a close. Read more about funding for Darlington's future on our blog.

August 1, 2014

Click here to checkout Darlington’s progress over the last 6 months in motion!

July 25, 2014

A new life for old windows 
The Trail Conference is continuing to keep up with the best practices for historic preservation.
We have been able to keep the entire building intact, including windows cabinetssalvaging the original rear windows for a new project.  Glass from two pairs of windows on each floor of the building will be re-purposed to create a set of rustic display cabinets.  Local carpenter, Jim Carter of Jim Carter Corp in Riverdale, NJ, has volunteered his skills to help transform the windows into functional storage spaces.

May 8, 2014

Community Works Together to Aid in Darlington’s Conservation Project

This past Saturday, 25 volunteers joined Trail Conference staff members to spend a day of service at the Darlington Schoolhouse. This event marked the first step in building a free-standing, dry stone wall that will demarcate the perimeter of the grounds.  The group sorted native fieldstone into size order for future construction.  The fieldstone had been previously cleared from the building in preparation for the addition to the existing structure.

A special thanks to students from Ramapo College, sisters of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc., and members of the Ramapo College Trail Crew, all of whom put in many hours toward this project! Click to view gallery 
To get your group involved, or to sign up as an individual volunteer for future work projects at the site, please contact Jennifer Easterbrook, jennifer@nynjtc.org

April 23, 2014 

Be a part of our conservation effort at Darlington!

Saturday, May 3rd
10:00am - 4:00pm 
600 Ramapo Valley Rd. Mahwah, NJ 07430
Stop by at your convenience! 
Join us as we take our first step in building a free standing, dry stone wall at the Darlington Schoolhouse on Saturday, May 3rd. We invite you to stop by the schoolhouse to help sort native fieldstone.


April 17, 2014

Local Cub Scout troop seeks to earn the World Conservation Award at Darlington

A local Mahwah Cub Scout troop, seeking to earn the World Conservation Award, visited the Darlington Schoolhouse on Wednesday to learn the Trail Conference’s contributions to environmental conservation at our new headquarters. The Cub Scout World Conservation Award is designed to increase youth awareness about the effect natural resource conservation has on the environment. In order for the scouts to earn this badge, they are required to take part in a conservation project that spotlights nature crafts and water/soil conservation. 

Click to learn about the cub scout's visit and to sign up for a volunteer effort to be part of our conservation effort!

April 8, 2014

Grzybowski Preserve Underway at Darlington Schoolhouse
The Riparian Restoration Landscape and Wood Turtle Habitat has been formally renamed the Grzybowski Preserve in honor of Edward Gryzbowski and his sister Janet. Under the guidance of the newly appointed environmental sculptor, George Trakas, the Grzybowski Preserve is sure to be a beautiful and sustainable way to connect people to nature.
As construction transforms the exterior and grounds at the Darlington Schoolhouse, Grzybowski Preserve is under development. The Trail Conference is focused on making the most out of the land surrounding the headquarters, while maintaining habitat integrity. Trakas is in the process of scouting the grounds as he creates blueprint drafts for the design of the Grzybowski Preserve.
The Trail Conference is very interested in creating a habitat for wood turtles, which are native to Northern Jersey and are classified by the state as threatened. To gain insight on native species surrounding the schoolhouse, we reached out to Brian Zarate, from the Endangered and Nongame Species Program for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW). Learn more from our visit with Brian Zarate from New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

March 17, 2014

New use for discarded material

During the transformation of the Darlington Schoolhouse into the Trail Conference’s future headquarters, only a small amount of the existing building will change. The Trail Conference is conscious of preserving as much of the existing material as possible while creating a new addition to the existing building. 

Part of Darlington’s original structure consisted of an outhouse used during the time it was run as a one-room schoolhouse. Over time when outhouses became obsolete, it was transformed and enlarged into a garage. As seen in the photo, the shingle portion is from the original outhouse and the concrete portion where the garage was later added. View photo gallery and continue reading

March 3, 2014

Renowned Environmental Sculptor will design Darlington’s Landscape

George Trakas, world renowned environmental sculptor, and the New York – New Jersey Trail Conference announced today that Mr. Trakas will design the landscaping at the future headquarters of the Trail Conference at the Darlington Schoolhouse. The Schoolhouse is a jewel of architectural significance, and both Mr. Trakas and Edward Goodell, Executive Director of the Trail Conference, expressed confidence that the landscaping will be a remarkable setting for that jewel.
The Trail Conference has been conducting fundraising to renovate and preserve the 1891 landmark schoolhouse over the past seven years. It has a goal of $2.8 million of which it has already raised $2.6 million. Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, any incremental costs relating to Mr. Trakas services will be fully funded and will not require the raising of additional funds.
George Takas was born in Quebec in 1944 and has lived in New York City since 1963. Many of his projects are site specific, and he often recycles local materials and incorporates them into his work.
A notable example of his work is the Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Brooklyn.

February 18, 2014

Construction Work Begins at the Darlington Schoolhouse
On February 1, construction work began at the Darlington Schoolhouse. Employees of Mahwah-based LaBarbiera Custom Homes, a division of VHI Builders, began interior renovations by grading and spreading gravel over ground-level crawl space and framing partitions for two small, new rooms on the first floor.

Work outside the existing building, including demolition of a garage and boiler room and removal of selected trees to make room for an addition, will begin once needed approvals from DEP are in hand and site conditions—snow—permit.
Meanwhile, the restoration team is working to finalize design plans, obtain all needed approvals, and complete fundraising for the project.
The Trail Conference is transforming the historic 1891 Darlington Schoolhouse into its Headquarters and Visitors Center. Restoration will be in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties. At the same time, an important objective is to create an energy efficient building with a minimal carbon footprint.  This will be achieved by good insulation and sealing of the building envelope, efficient equipment, LED lighting, and geothermal heating and cooling.

December 19, 2013

Great Horned Owl found, injured, outside of schoolhouse

The Darlington Schoolhouse is located in a hiker’s paradise, offering the perfect back drop of the scenic Ramapo Mountains and home to a vast population of native wildlife and plants. Located 1000ft from a popular Bergen County trailhead at Ramapo Reservation, visitors will be able to explore the headquarters and hop onto a popular trail for a day of hiking with beautiful vista’s and historic features. Our new headquarters at Darlington will be more than just a place to stop in to buy maps and ask experienced volunteers trail questions; we are preserving the natural surroundings and restoring habitat.

Our approach for the landscape outside of the headquarters will incorporate a detailed plan of native species and restoring wildlife habitats. Part of the riparian landscape, along Darlington Brook, will be to restore the Wood Turtle habitat, a threatened species in New Jersey.  Darlington Brook’s soft bottom and muddy shores, is the ideal location for the Wood Turtle to wait out the winter season.

Continue reading about our wild friends in need

December 10, 2013

Naming Opportunity Trail Conference Headquarters Naming Opportunity: Giving each room meaning and inspiration 

Our values of conservation, volunteerism and education rank among the primary reasons that our supporters make the Trail Conference a priority. Some of our closest friends have chosen to make a one-time legacy naming gift to permanently support the Trail Conference and its mission.

Dr. David Kopp and Reverend Dr. Ronnie Stout-Kopp are valued Trail Conference members and generous supporters of the Darlington Schoolhouse capital campaign. They believe strongly in maintaining trails and making them accessible to the public through parks and green spaces.

 Understanding that parks and trails are our “singular ancient heritage in the US,” Ronnie and Dave were inspired by the words of Andrew J. Downing (American landscape designer, horticulturalist, writer and advocate of the Gothic Revival style). Downing stated in 1847, “If we have neither old castles nor old associations, we have at least, here and there, old trees that can teach us lessons of antiquity not less instructive and poetical than the ruins of a past age.” Learn more about A.J. Downing and our naming opportunities

November 21, 2013

We Name General Contractor and Break Ground at Historic Schoolhouse

75 supporters shared in the groundbreaking at the Darlington Schoolhouse by moving dirt with red plastic spoons (many contributions add up to big achievements)

On Thursday, November 21 at noon, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference broke ground on the final stage of restoration and expansion of the Darlington Schoolhouse as the organization’s new and permanent headquarters.

At the ceremony, the Bolger Foundation of Ridgewood, NJ presented the Trail Conference with a $500,000 check. The gift marks the Trail Conference success in meeting the Bolger Challenge to raise $1 million in the past seven months for the project. Trail Conference Executive Director Ed Goodell also introduced the general contractor who has been selected to manage the construction phase of the project, Mahwah-based Vinnie LaBarbiera of LaBarbiera Custom Homes, a Division of VHI Builders.

Read more on groundbreaking ceremony and chosen contractor

November 1, 2013

Darlington Project Hits Million Dollar Target

Trail Conference Meets $1 Million Bolger Foundation Challenge Earning a $500,000 Gift to Begin Construction on Headquarters in the Darlington Schoolhouse

Mahwah, NJ: The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference raised $1 million over the past seven months to earn a $500,000 challenge gift from The Bolger Foundation of Ridgewood, NJ.  Between March and November, 657 individuals, civic organizations, and local businesses responded to the campaign with donations that ranged from $10 to $150,000.

Ed Goodell, Trail Conference executive director praised the Bolger Foundation, “They challenged us to elevate the campaign to the point where we could finally begin construction, which will ultimately restore and enhance this community landmark for the public to enjoy and the Trail Conference to use.  Most of all, we thank the many contributors who stepped up to meet that challenge.”

J.T. Bolger, Trustee of the Bolger Foundation announced, “The Bolger Foundation is proud to support the Trail Conference and the Darlington Schoolhouse construction.  The repurposing of this building and creating a gateway to the expansive trail network is a wonderful addition to the educational and outdoor experiences the NY-NJ Trail Conference offers.  When we were approached, we knew that this opportunity had to be an all or nothing and have a very short timeline, so as to inspire others to get involved.  The time to wait and see was over, Phase I was complete and it was time to motivate and raise the total monies needed to complete the project.  We are very excited to see this second phase start.”

As of today, contributions and grants for the final phase of the Darlington Schoolhouse construction amount to just over $2.5 million.  The organization is continuing to accept contributions to meet the full construction budget which is expected to top $2.8 million. Mr. Goodell commented that, ”We have reached out to countless people and organizations over the past year and, thankfully, we continue to get generous offers to help.”

On Oct. 29, the Trail Conference’s board of directors approved a construction contract amount of $2.3 million to complete the Phase 2 interior renovation of the original 4,400 square-foot Schoolhouse and a 3,700 square-foot, two-story addition. Construction is expected to begin in November with a target completion date in October 2014.  Phase 1—which included structural stabilization, exterior renovation, and HVAC and utilities—was completed in 2012.

The Darlington Schoolhouse was built in 1891 as a gift to the Mahwah community by Alfred B. Darling and Theodore Havemeyer, each of whom had farm estates in the area. It is considered “the most architecturally significant schoolhouse in New Jersey” by the New Jersey Historic Trust.

The Trail Conference and Township of Mahwah purchased the Schoolhouse for $550,000 in 2005 with matching grants from the Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund and New Jersey Green Acres funds. Public grants for the building's adaptive reuse as the Trail Conference’s new headquarters include $829,000 from the New Jersey Historic Trust and $436,000 from the Bergen County Historic Preservation Trust Fund, a part of the Bergen County Open Space, Recreation, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

October 25, 2013Rick Levine

Rick, as a Life Member and an active Board Member and member of the Stakeholder Action Team, why is the Darlington Schoolhouse project so important to the Trail Conference?

When I first joined the Board, I was not expecting the scope of the Trail Conference and the exacting professionalism of its volunteers – the Board members and the trail construction/maintenance volunteers that produce amazing results.  My first wakeup call was when I queried my hiking friends; not only did most of them have a very limited view of the TC and its mandate, but many did not go further than pointing out “you get a 10% Campmor discount with TC membership” (early in my membership that tidbit of information was my full understanding as well!). It also became apparent to me (as my learning curve rose) that our future success will need constant adaptation to both the environment and how we operate as a non-profit organization. It was immediately obvious that my new exposures uncovered the following (amongst other things): Click to learn what Rick discovered

October 3, 2013

Ed Goodell, Executive Director, Peter and Pam McBride, Pam Goldman, Bryant Malcolm, hosts Dick and Carol Greene, Bergen Rotary President Tom Grissom and Mike DiLella Bergen Highlands Ramsey Rotary Club presents donation to Trail Conference, Darlington Schoolhouse at Mahwah Historic Farm Fest

Mahwah’s town historian, Carol Greene, and her husband Dick Greene led a gathering of fascinated visitors on a trip back in time last Sunday, September 29 at their home at Sun Valley Farm. Visitors, including the Bergen Highlands Ramsey Rotary Club, came to learn about and support the restoration of the Darlington Schoolhouse.

Continue reading about Mahwah Farm Fest


September 27, 2013

Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Barbuto

Life Member
Franklin Lakes, New Jersey

Seize the moment for our children

My family and I have decided to make the renovation of the Darlington Schoolhouse a priority in our philanthropy because it is a one-time opportunity to preserve a historic treasure that will serve our community for years to come.  As a lifelong environmentalist and outdoor enthusiast, I believe that we need to seize this moment for our children and future generations.  In one of my favorite books, Last Child in The Woods,  author Richard Louv states that strengthening the “bond between our young and nature is in our self-interest,…because our mental, physical, and  spiritual health depend upon it.”

Read more from Susan

September 25, 2013

Darlington Schoolhouse Honor Wall-Naming Opportunities

Click Here to see enlarged image

Darlington Schoolhouse Honor Wall

September 19, 2013

Darlington hits the news again as fundraising thermometer unveiled outside schoolhouse

Yesterday, outside the Darlington Schoolhouse, our campaign team volunteers gathered to unveil the Bolger Challenge Thermometer!  The new eye-catching sign lets passers-by know about the project and how much we still need to raise to reach our goal.  Currently, the Trail Conference has raised $855,000 of the $1 million needed to meet Bolger Foundation’s November 1, all-or-nothing challenge deadline.  If we are successful, the Foundation will make a gift of $500,000, which will allow us start construction right away!
In attendance was reporter Allison Pries from the Bergen Record, check out her article; Fundraising deadline looms for Mahwah's historic Darlington Schoolhouse
Jessica Mazzola, of Mahwah Patch, also covered the event, check out Darlington in Patch; Trail Conference Looks to Beat $1 Million Donation Deadline 

September 4, 2013

Volunteers who are making this campaign move!
We asked Bob to describe his 50 year connection with the Trail Conference:
I got involved with the Trail Conference in the 1960s and had the pleasure of a friendship with Bill Hoeferlin, who created maps that were the predecessors to the Trail Conference’s award-winning trail map enterprise.
I have always cherished the work of the Trail Conference because they create the trails I love.  It has been a miracle to live in various locations across this vast metropolis and still be able to enjoy the solitude of open space where I can appreciate the beauty and diversity that nature has to offer.
It’s easy to take for granted that access to open space will always be available, but without the Trail Conference, I know that the trail system would crumble into disrepair.  Across the region, the Trail Conference provides a quality of life that millions have enjoyed decade after decade. Click to read more from Life Member Bob Ross

August 6, 2013

Bolger Challenge ThermometerCampaign in Motion: Darlington Schoolhouse Progress Report towards the Bolger Challenge

We are making great progress and want to thank everyone who is helping us raise the funds to restore the Darlington Schoolhouse as a conservation training center and new home for our 92 year old organization.

So far we have raised $699,256 in pledges from the March 1 Bolger Challenge start date (raise $1 million additional in pledges before November 1, 2013). Have you made your gift to help the Trail Conference meet the Bolger Foundation Challenge?

Corporate Donors:
Inserra Supermarkets, Inc., family-owned business operating 21 ShopRite stores throughout New York and New Jersey, has pledged to the schoolhouse campaign and has chosen to name the Trail Conference’s future Headquarter's Kitchen and Break Room.

Special Thanks for Tribute and Naming Opportunities To Date:
Named: Geothermal Climate Control            Named: Executive Director’s Office
Named: Ramapo Reservation Trail               Named: Wood Turtle Habitat
Named: New Addition Entry Foyer                  Named: Small Meeting Room
Named: Larry Wheelock Trail                          Named: Riparian Landscaping and
               Crew Tool Room                                                Interpretation
Named: Darlington Preserve Viewpoint
Named: Kitchen and Break Room

Click to learn more about our Campaign in Motion

July 23, 2013

Darlington Schoolhouse benefit hike

Congratulations & Thank You Mellonie and Friends

Congratulations & Thank You Mellonie and Friends
Mellonie Sanborn completes 22+ hike to benefit the Trail Conference’s future headquarters at the Darlington Schoolhouse on Saturday, July 20th . Accompanying Mellonie were three other Trail Conference members and volunteers, Ed Disalvo, West Milford, NJ Irene & Gary Auleta from Frankling Lakes along with Chris Norris and Trail Conference Development Director Don Weise supplying water, snacks and words of encouragement for 2/3 of the groups hike . Starting at 7:15am from Darlington Schoolhouse on Rt 202 in Mahwah NJ, Mellonie and crew hiked to Senator Frank Lautenberg Visitor Center in Tuxedo, NY in 10.25 hours, in temperatures reaching into the 90’s, to complete their through-hike, ending at the visitor center at 5:30pm.

Mellonie’s hike to benefit Darlington Schoolhouse has raised $1,680 so far. The Trail Conference is still collecting donations towards the benefit hike.  Help us get Mellonie to $2,000! To ensure that your gift is acknowledged as a tribute to Mellonie, put "Go Mellonie!" in the Special Instructions box.

To ensure that your gift is acknowledged as a tribute to Mellonie, put “Go Mellonie!” in the Special Instructions box. - See more at: http://blog-dsh.nynjtc.org/?p=370#sthash.oOWs98R7.dpuf
Mellonie’s hike to benefit Darlington Schoolhouse has raised $1,680 so far. The Trail Conference is still collecting donations towards the benefit hike.  Help us get Mellonie to $2,000!  To ensure that your gift is acknowledged as a tribute to Mellonie, put “Go Mellonie!” in the Special Instructions box.  - See more at: http://blog-dsh.nynjtc.org/?p=389#sthash.3JmAlD6C.dpuf

July 3, 2013

GO Mellonie!

On Saturday, July 20, Mellonie Sanborn of Morris Plains, NJ, plans to put her feet to 22 miles of ground for the benefit of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.
Ms. Sanborn, a self-described “mature woman” who works weekdays as an executive administrator with Black Rock investment company in Manhattan and enjoys hiking on weekends, plans to do a 22-mile trail walk that will start at the Darlington Schoolhouse trailhead in Mahwah, NJ—site of the Trail Conference’s future headquarters—and end at the Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Visitor Center at Sterling Forest State Park in New York.
Mellonie’s goal is to draw attention to the Schoolhouse’s location as a trailhead that connects communities to an extensive trail network in two states.
“I asked Don Weise [Trail Conference Development Director and founder-leader of the Wild Wyanokie Wanderers and West Milford 13ers hiking groups] what I could do to support the Darlington Schoolhouse project,” Mellonie says. (She is a member of WWW and of the Trail Conference.) “I enjoy long-distance hikes, and this hike will link two beautiful facilities. It will be an homage to both, as well as to the late Senator Lautenberg, who did so much to protect our environment.” Read more on Mellonie's Hike for the Darlington Schoolhouse

June 25, 2013

The need for a conservation training and visitors center

If you have ever stopped by our Trail Conference office in Mahwah, NJ (the former Ford Union Hall), you know what a busy place it is. On any given weekday, and some weekends, the office is bustling with staff, volunteers and visitors. The office is a hub where information is collected from volunteers out in the field, maps and books are sold, mailings are sent, materials are stored, and all our meetings and indoor work take place.  Crammed into the corners, you’ll find some of the Trail Conference’s best equipment: loppers, pickmatics and other specialized trail tools. We don’t have enough space to store these items nor do we have proper facilities to clean them on-site.

Read more on the Trail Conference's current office and the need for a conservation trainging and visitors center

June 5, 2013

Trail Conference and its Capital Project Supporters Gather at the International Explorers Club in Manhattan

Steve Tilly, Elizabeth Martin, Anna Gannett, Board Member Chris Connolly and Host past board member Bill Gannett

With the announcement of the Bolger Foundation Challenge to raise $1 million by November 1, 2013, the race to connect with as many Trail Conference members, Bergen County community members, outdoor enthusiasts and supporters of access to open space is ON. Our efforts took us to the Explorers Club International Headquarters in New York City. It was the perfect fit for the Trail Conference with the Explorers Club’s like-minded mission: “dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore”.

Hear more about the Trail Conference's event at the Explorers Club



May 16, 2013

Bolger Foundation Challenges the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference to Complete Funding to Restore the Historic Darlington Schoolhouse - See details of the Bolger Challenge Grant

May 6, 2013

Site Plan Approval in local news!
Read Mahwah Patch's Article, Trail Conference Gets OK to Restore Historic Schoolhouse

May 3, 2013

Darlington Schoolhouse Site Plan Approval Marks Milestone for Trail Conference Relocation


MAHWAH, NJ- On May 1, 2013 Executive Director Ed Goodell, attorney Andy Norin, Drinker Biddle and Reath, architect Winston Perry, CPLA, and engineer Tibor Letiscics, Conklin Associates, met with the Mahwah Township Zoning Board of Adjustment to approve the site plan for the Darlington Schoolhouse. After years of legal work, this approval marks the first step in initiating the construction on the schoolhouse, bringing the Trail Conference closer to their goal of relocating to this historical treasure.

View our blog to read more regarding the site plan approval



April 8, 2013

Raising Awareness for Darlington Schoolhouse Campaign

Franklin Lakes Library Trail Conference/Darlington Schoolhouse Display



As our efforts to raise the capital funds for our project continues, raising community awareness is an essential component. Click to check out how the Trail Conference is raising awareness for the campaign!









February 11, 2013

Rendering of Darlington Schoolhouse

Rendering of Darlington Schoolhouse

Developed by Architect Victor Barbalato of ZVESDA Collective, this rendering of the Darlington Schoolhouse showcases the vibrant environment that will transform the landmarked 1891 building following a successful capital campaign to fund its adaptive re-use.  The schoolhouse will become the permanent headquarters for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, a trail visitors center and center for conservation services learning.  The schoolhouse grounds will feature picnic areas, a wood turtle habitat and historical information on the impact of this building located on an ancient Lenape trail. 

January 24, 2013

                                             Proposed sidewalk in front of Darlington Schoolhouse on Ramapo Valley Rd/Route 202 towards Continental Solider Park at Ramapo College.               


Another step forward for Darlington

Mahwah Town Council endorses plan for sidewalk, read more on our blog!



January 17, 2013

Trail Conference Board Chair, Chris Connolly; Trail Conference Executive Director, Edward Goodell; President of Ramapo College, Peter P. Mercer; Mahwah Historian, Carol Greene; Trail Conference Development Director, Don Weise; Darlington Schoolhouse Stakeholder Action Team Members Bill and Linda Dator Special Briefing Regarding Plans for the Adaptive Re-Use of the Darlington Schoolhouse

Ramapo College President Peter Mercer and his wife, Dr. Jacqueline Ehlert-Mercer, welcomed the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and special guests to the Havemeyer House for the first in a series of briefings the Trail Conference has launched regarding plans for the adaptive re-use of the Darlington Schoolhouse. Read full story on our Darlington blog

In photograph taken at the Havemeyer House: Trail Conference Board Chair, Chris Connolly; Trail Conference Executive Director, Edward Goodell; President of Ramapo College, Peter P. Mercer; Mahwah Historian, Carol Greene; Trail Conference Development Director, Don Weise; Darlington Schoolhouse Stakeholder Action Team Members Bill and Linda Dator


December 27, 2012

Darlington Schoolhouse




Interested seeing in what Darlington Schoolhouse looked like before the exterior restoration? Visit our blog to view our gallery!




October 11, 2012

Darlington Schoolhouse event hits local news!
Check out Mahwah Patch's article, NY-NJ Trail Conference Kicks Off Expansion of Historic Darlington Schoolhouse (article no longer available)

October 10, 2012

Phase 1 Exterior Restoration Completed, Commencing Efforts for the Adaptive Re-Use of Historic Darlington Schoolhouse   

Leaders representing the organizations and institutions collaborating to raise the funds for the adaptive re-use of the Darlington Schoolhouse gathered at the site to announce the completion of the exterior restoration and the commencement of efforts funding the interior renovation.

“Today we are unveiling our plans for converting the historic landmark to become the permanent regional headquarters for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and standing with our partners who are going to help us make it happen” said Trail Conference Executive Director Edward Goodell.


Click to read and view photo's from the event




Creating a Center for Conservation Service Learning and Trails Visitors Center in Mahwah, New Jersey

The nation’s pioneering trail organization, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, has undertaken a project to restore and renovate the landmark Darlington Schoolhouse as its permanent headquarters for conservation service learning and Trails Visitors Center.  Centrally located within the 20 counties of northern New Jersey and Hudson River Valley that are the Trail Conference’s primary field of operation, the Schoolhouse is ideally situated, at a popular trailhead and directly adjacent to Ramapo College.  

Every year the Trail Conference trains thousands of volunteers to create and maintain 1,850 miles of public nature trails.  These trained volunteers donate 70,000 hours annually working with 122 public agency land managers to protect public open space and provide safe and responsible access through marked and maintained trails.

This project offers the perfect adaptive re-use for the Darlington Schoolhouse. By bringing together people and organizations with a wide range of interests including conservation, recreation, architecture, history, community development and citizen engagement,  this collaboration is making it possible to create a new center for conservation service learning for the metropolitan area. 

The Iconic 1891 Landmark Is a Perfect Public Face for the Trail Conference

Located on Route 202, an ancient native trail that gave Mahwah its Lenape name meaning ‘where the trails meet,’ the Darlington Schoolhouse was constructed in 1891 and is considered the most historically significant schoolhouse in New Jersey. 

Designed by Newport, RI, architect Dudley Newton, the building’s fieldstone walls and Romanesque arches combined with Stick and Shingle Style features make it one of the most distinctive one-room schoolhouses in the country.  A single classroom occupies most of the first floor and a community meeting hall most of the second.

Despite years of neglect, “the majority of the building remains intact, including chestnut doors, Eastlake-style door hardware, slate chalkboards and rounded-arch, multi-paned windows,” according to the nomination that resulted in the Schoolhouse being listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Rendering of Darlington Schoolhouse with addition with existing building

Side Elevation View of Restored Schoolhouse with Educational Annex

The new Center will offer many valuable benefits including:

  • A centrally located headquarters for the Trail Conference and visitor center
  • An educational and meeting center for Trail Conference stewardship training
  • Facilities that can benefit other nonprofit and educational organizations such as Ramapo College’s Sustainability Center and local K-12 classes


The Trail Conference successfully raised the funds needed to acquire, stabilize and complete the exterior restoration of the schoolhouse.  Now efforts are fully underway to raise the $2.4 million needed for the interior renovation and construction of an educational annex that preserves the Schoolhouse and property forever.

The Trail Conference’s presence and stewardship will ensure that the Headquarters and Visitors Center will become a gateway for public access to nature.  We need your help to make this happen!

This capital project will allow the organization to better serve its 100,000 members and affiliates serving as a gateway to the vast network of trails and destination for its more than one million online visitors each year.

By transforming the Darlington Schoolhouse into a Center for Conservation Service Learning and Visitors Center, the Trail Conference will better serve its mission focused on the benefits to people of all ages access to nature and recreation for people of all ages.

To participate in the capital project for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Headquarters at the  Darlington Schoolhouse Capital Campaign contact:

Jennifer Easterbrook, Campaign Assistant, Trail Conference Center for Conservation Service Learning

201.512.9348x 24 or jennifer@nynjtc.org

Beth Hershenhart, Campaign Counsel

800.710.7760, or beth@InnovativeResourcesGroup.com

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

600 Ramapo Valley Road

Mahwah, NJ 07430


Map of Darlington Schoolhouse