Days of Yore
.
as recounted by

Bill Day

 


A 200th birthday
Historically minded citizens of Haddonfield in 1913 celebrated the 200th anniversary of Elizabeth Haddon's building and moving into her new home within the limits of the Borough.  She had come from England to this vicinity in 1701, but did not permanently settle within the area that was to become Haddonfield until twelve years later.

To commemorate the anniversary a pageant with many tableaux was presented on the lawn of Mr Sam Wood's home which was the site of Elizabeth's mansion.  This was held on Oct 18, 1913, and it influenced 46 history-minded citizens to meet on Oct 26, 1914 and discuss the forming of a historical society.  Mr Ephraim T. Gill, Mr James Lane Pennypacker and Mr Samuel N Rhoads were the group's leaders.  One month later, on Nov 24, another meeting was held with a constitution being adopted, and officers were elected along with a board of directors.  The Historical Society of Haddonfield was in existence.

The officers were President Ephraim T. Gill, vice presidents James Lane Pennypacker, Caroline S. Haines, J. Fithian Tatem, recording secretary Samuel N. Rhoads, corresponding secretary Ella R. B. Mercer, treasurer Thomas S. Hopkins, and Curator Honiara E.G. Whitecar.  There were fifteen directors.  Annual dues were $1 and life memberships were $20.  There were 137 charter members.  They had either attended the preliminary meeting and the organization meeting, or they had by verbal or written request expressed their desire to be Society members.

Regular meetings were held with programs in the Indian King.  The start of the collection of historical items and the preservation of old documents was begun and they were kept in various locations around town.  Probably some were stored in the public library up on Chestnut street.

In 1915 a movement began to erect a building to accommodate the Society and Library.  The land at the point of Tanner street and Haddon avenue was discussed.  Miss Rebecca Nicholson had decided to donate that plot to the Borough for a public park.  She agreed for it to be the site for a combined Historical Society and a Library.  The building was erected in 1917.  The Society and Library shared the building for years but as time passed it became increasingly apparent that both institutions needed more room to expand.  In 1937 the 100-year-old attached brick house alongside the Indian King was purchased by the Society.  The three story building was the home of the Society for the next twenty years.  The property had been built by Squire Clement for a daughter.  The new Headquarters was formally opened Feb 22, 1938.  As time passed, the rapidly increasing volumes in the historic library again made larger quarters necessary.

"Greenfield Hall", the stately historic brick residence of Mr and Mrs Harry A. Bauer at 343 east Kings highway was purchased.  It is the third townhouse built on this site by the Gill family.  The oldest section dates back to 1747.  At the annual Candlelight Dinner on Feb 28, 1961 the permanent quarters of the Society was dedicated.  Rooms have been furnished in various periods and there is now a fine historical library.  In 1962 the little Hip Roof house, the oldest house to be continuously occupied as a dwelling, was purchased by the Society and it was moved form 23 Ellis street in 1965 to the grounds next to Greenfield Hall.  This added to the historic atmosphere surrounding the Society's fine old house that has the museum and library of the privately supported organization.

Our town's historic history has been well preserved by the Society, the present is being documented for posterity, and the future will be recorded as it unfolds.  The Society furnished material to make this column possible.  Greenfield Hall is open to the public 2 PM to 4:30 PM every Tuesday and Thursday.  Groups by appointment at 429-7375.

Membership applications are available at Greenfield Hall.  Active membership is $7.50 per year.  Associate membership (under 20) is $1 per year.


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