When Charles Chase donated the property to the Borough of Collingswood “for use as a museum and educational center,” he clearly intended that all who wished could visit. Unfortunately, the house can only be entered by climbing steps. Several years ago, the trustees of the Collings-Knight House made a commitment to resolve the problem of barrier-free access at the house.

The Challenge: As a historic structure open to the public, the Collings-Knight House should make an effort to comply with the ADA, but not in any way that compromises the historic structure. The board arrived at an elegant solution: replacing the missing kitchen shed across the back of the house to provide access and other much-needed amenities.

The Solution: The Friends applied for, and won, a planning grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust for an update to the Preservation Plan that would include a solution to the accessibility problem.

Kitchen and Associates Architectural Services of Collingswood was engaged to design the replacement shed. Their task: to fit barrier-free access, restroom facilities and equipment storage into the space formerly occupied by the 10 x 29 foot kitchen shed. Their design, approved by the board in 2004, provides a wheelchair lift, an accessible restroom, a display area for our numerous artifacts, and storage for all the modern equipment we need for programs but is distracting to visitors.

The Plan: We have a construction estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. This addition will require a capital campaign involving a variety of grants and fundraising activities. The trustees plan to engage many levels of support, including our local community, county and state, corporations and private foundations to achieve this goal. It’s a few years off, but we are very proud of this commitment and trust that, when the time comes, we will receive the necessary support.