Days of Yore
.
as recounted by

Bill Day

 



Greenfield Hall has a long history
Greenfield Hall is known to all as the home of the Historical Society of Haddonfield.  That gracious old brick building at 343 Kings highway east has a historic past, as does the Society that it now houses.  It stands on the tract of land that John Gill in 1725 leased from the Estaughs.  His cousin, Elizabeth Haddon, was married to John Estaugh.

The first residence on the tract was a log cabin that John built in 1725.  John Gill II received the acreage as a gift from his father in 1747.  He built the second Gill house shortly after and it stood on a foundation that the present Greenfield Hall now stands on.

At John Gill II's death in 1796 John Gill III resided in the house until his death in 1838.

Then John Gill VI acquired it.  He wishes a more spacious home for his bride, Elizabeth French of Moorestown, so he tore down most of the house in 1841 and erected the present Greenfield Hall.  The servant's quarters and the "little room" of the old house were not touched and that rear section is now the library of the Society.

Over 200 years of wear is evidenced on the short stairs going down to the "little room".  Fourteen fireplaces were built.  John IV's daughter, married in Samuel Willits, was the next owner, and it was her residence from 1885 until her death in 1904.  Her son, John Gill Willits, then converted the house into a combined nursing and old folks home.

After John's death, Colonel Brodie, visiting in town, saw the house and brought it.  The Colonel was then Governor of the Territory of Arizona and had a high position in Washington as a representative in the Orient.  He retired, came to town, and maintained the beautiful box garden that had been planted by the Gills.  The garden was often featured in house and garden magazines along with pictures.

The Colonel died in two years and his widow sold the property to Mr. W P Hallinger who named it "The Boxwoods."  Successive owners have been Ralph Van Hart, Mrs J Fithian Tatem, and Mr and Mrs Harry A Bauer.  The Bauer family lived in Greenfield Hall until 1960 when it became the home of the Historical Society of Haddonfield.

The Hessian army passed through Haddonfield during the Revolution on its way to storm Fort Mercer at Red Bank south of Woodbury.  Count Emil Kurt von Dunop, the Hessian general, made his overnight headquarters in John Gill II's home with his troops encamped near the Hopkins Pond.

The colonists opened their houses to the Hessian and British forces during the War for by so doing they protected their properties from the hands of the enemy.

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