Days of Yore
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Mountwell Pool
as recounted by

Bill Day

 

 

Mountwell Pool
It is a fact that the first white settler, in this region that is now Haddonfield, owned 500 acres here in the late 1600s, and that the Borough of Haddonfield was not interested in a portion of that until the early 1900s.

Francis Collins, an early settler up in Burlington who was a brick layer by trade, purchased a section of land in what is now the Cooper’s Creek, Ellis street, Potter street section, roughly speaking.  He called his estate Mountwell.  On the hill overlooking Mountwell Woods, where 310 Centre street now stands, Mr. Collins erected the first residence in what was to be Haddonfield.  This was in 1682.

The estate remained in the Collins family for approximately 160 years.  Eventually it was to become the property of the Haddonfield Land and Improvement Company.  A fence was put up to enclose the area, and a building was erected for entertainment purposes, on open dance floor was laid near the stream, a short race course was built as well as a rifle range.

Later, Reilly’s Military Academy existed at Mountwell for a time.  In 1909 the Borough of Haddonfield acquired a portion of the estate, and in 1913 the Haddon Fortnightly received permisssion to build a dam across the stream that ran through the ravine in the Woods.  The dam was built of small cobblestones that formerly were used in the streets to keep the flagstones from floating away in the spring thaws.  The building of the dam created a delightful natural swimming pool for the enjoyment of the townspeople.  The Civic Association erected a bathhouse.  Haddonfield residents, old and young, for years had a lovely swimming hole available during the hot summer months.  The years passed and the borough Commissioners gave the Mountwell Pool to the Camden County Park Commission, and it now stands drained and unused.

Indicative of the old Haddonfield Swimming hole spirt, is the story told by Mrs. James I. Baxter, who every afternoon in the summer, took here children down to Mountwell.  The children enjoyed watching the water spill over the “gosh”, as they called it, because “dam” was a dirty word.


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