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EDITORIAL: Remembering Another Important Part of Perth Amboy’s History

Bill Pavlovsky at the Grand Opening of the Surveyor General’s Office on May 25, 2017. *File Photo by Katherine Massopust

It is with sadness that we report the sudden passing of William Pavlovsky on Saturday, October 21, 2017. On the following day, there was a presentation by Dr. Richard Veit, at the historic Kearny Cottage on John Watson’s Site. Dr. Veit is  Professor of Anthropology and Chair of History and Anthropology at Monmouth University. Ironically Veit started his presentation by speaking about the Archaeological Dig that Bill Pavlovsky participated in 40 years ago.

Veit said he spoke to Pavlovsky four years ago about a dig that he did with Anton Massopust.  Pavlovsky had participated in several digs on various historic properties located in Perth Amboy. These sites included properties owned by Benjamin Clarke and John Watson. The artifacts that were found on these digs showed a connection Perth Amboy had throughout the world which included the Latin America and European Countries. One of the most extraordinary finds by Pavlovsky was found in an oyster shell. It was what was left of a painting on a Flemish Canvas from the 1700’s. Bill also found silver coins from Spain that were minted in Mexico.

Veit mentioned that Bill attended William and Mary College, where one of his Professors, Norman Barkin further piqued Bill’s interest in excavations. Upon leaving College, he had all the knowledge he needed and had an real eye for archaeological sites.

I personally remember meeting Bill for the first time when I was appointed to the Perth Amboy Historic Preservation Commission when it was resurrected in 2009.

We spoke to Russell O’Reilly who was a very close friend of Pavlovsky. O’Reilly mentioned when the two of them were on the Zoning Board, Mayor Wilda Diaz had approached them about starting up the Historic Preservation Commission again. They were very interested in doing so.

Pavlovsky and O’Reilly both   had a vast knowledge of the history of Perth Amboy so it was a shoe-in that Bill was unanimously voted as Chair and O’Reilly as Vice Chair of the PAHPC.

During their tenure on the PAHPC, they both orchestrated the signage program which identified historic homes in Perth Amboy.

Pavlovsky had to eventually resign from the PAHPC when his company was awarded the contract to restore the Surveyor General’s Office into a museum.

Pictured above was the grand opening of the Surveyor General’s Office in May 2017. One of the displays is the recasting of an indentured servant whose bones along with other indentured servants were found in mass grave at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. This was all made possible due to the efforts of Pavlovsky and O’Reilly.

Pavlovsky was born and raised in  Perth Amboy. He later lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but his connection to Perth Amboy was never severed. It is only fitting that he has come home to Perth Amboy to be interred at St. Peter’s historic church cemetery. Remember, it is in that cemetery that many notable Perth Amboy Citizens are interred. I think it’s very fitting.

I remember when I happened to see Bill and his sister, Mary Ellen a couple of days after Superstorm Sandy hit. They took me to their family house on Water Street so I could see the view of the devastation from their back porch that looked over Raritan Bay. They were both very gracious.

My memory of Bill is being very tall, soft spoken, but with a commanding demeanor. He was very intelligent and went into great detail when he spoke about projects both past, present and upcoming.

One thing I forgot to mention is that during Professor Veit’s presentation, he noted that and he and Bill were talking about collaborating on a book. This project included all the artifacts that Pavlovsky had found on his digs. Many of these items are on display at Monmouth University.

Perth Amboy City Historian Anton J. Massopust added the following: “Bill Pavlovsky’s greatest contribution to the City of Perth Amboy was the guiding of the restoration of the Proprietary House. It would not be where it is today without Pavlovsky’s accomplishments.”

There is an extensive history on Bill Pavlvosky submitted by his sister, Mary Ellen on page 8 of this paper. There is so much more to Bill than I ever knew. It was my pleasure to know such a fine gentleman who appreciated and acknowledged what everyone should know. Perth Amboy is one of the ten most historic cities in the United States. C.M.

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