The Fort Lee Film Commission will receive a Bergen County Historic Preservation Award for its Historical Map of Fort Lee, County Executive Kathleen Donovan announced last week.
The map of historic Fort Lee film industry locations provides a guide to the film studios, stars’ homes, theaters and silver screen backdrops that made Fort Lee an epicenter of the industry in the early twentieth century.
“All of these things help educate people, and help us to tell the story of what happened in Fort Lee,” film commission executive director Tom Meyers said.
The film commission will receive one of 14 awards being distributed by the county for restoration projects, documentaries, and books on local history, at an award ceremony to be held at one of Hackensack’s own historical locations: the First Dutch Reformed Church, built in 1792 and among the oldest church structures in the country.
This will be the 31st annual county historic preservation awards, which were started, according to the announcement, “to encourage preservation, restoration and adaptive use of Bergen County’s valuable and irreplaceable historic buildings, houses, schools, houses of worship, cemeteries and other historic resources.”
The Fort Lee Film Commission has been recognized by the county in the past, but Meyers says that this is the first time in several years that the commission has applied for an award.
“We wanted to apply for the film history map because we thought it was very relevant in terms of educational outreach,” he said.
The Fort Lee film history maps were created and first distributed in 2011 through a $2,000 grant from the county.
Although he says that only about half the structures included in the map are still standing, including the Champion Studio, Universal Studios’ first location that has been a printing plant since the company sold it in 1923, markers placed at historic locations and planned walking tours of sites along the map will keep the story of Fort Lee’s role in the film industry alive.
“Based on the map, we can create many different tours of different sections of town in the next few years,” Meyers said.
The award will be received at the First Reformed Church of Hackensack, located at 42 Court Street, on Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m.