Park Lane Cider Miller honored for historic preservation
Some years, the recipient of the New Milford Trust for Historic Preservation's Outstanding Preservation Award honors a fashionable colonial home in the village center.
This year's recipient -- the Park Lane Cider Mill -- is far more humble, but no less deserving, according to Trust members' standards.
"We looked around this year and the cider mill stood out," said Rob Burkhart, president of the Trust. "They had just nicely repainted it and it was so nicely preserved with the original cider press -- we all felt they deserved recognition."
Opened by John Jajer as the Berkshire Mill in 1900, the cider mill originally was in the area of today's Water Witch Hose Co. No. 2 fire station. The year it was moved to Park Lane is unknown, but it has been estimated as 1924 by Trust member Loretta Kretchko.
"I put a picture of the cider mill up on Facebook a year ago and got a great response from people who remembered it from their childhood," Mrs. Kretchko said. "I started researching the mill and found it has the original 1924 Farquahar cider press made in Chicago."
These days, the mill is owned by John Jajer's grandchildren, Greg and Mark Jajer, and their sister, Sheryl Bean. The mill has stayed in the Jajer family, first going to John Jajer's son, Vincent, in 1953. When Vincent Jajer died in 2008, he left the mill to his children.
The cider mill opens in the fall and remains open through the autumn season. It offers pumpkins, apples by the bushel and apple cider.
The Jajers will be presented June 10 with a bronze plaque for the 1,276-square-foot structure during the Trust's annual meeting at The Silo.
"The structure is the award recipient, not the building owner," said Mrs. Kretchko, whose own circa 1880s home took the honor in 2010.