Greetings, and welcome to the Historical Society of Riverton's website for our town, founded in 1851, by a group of ten Philadelphians for summer homes for their families. Displayed within its scant square mile area of Victorian-flavored neighborhoods and gaslamp-lined streets are more than 150 years of American architectural styles. More than half of Riverton's buildings are included in the State and National Directories of Historic Places.

Here is the venerable Porch Club, birthplace of the PTA; Riverton Yacht Club, one of the oldest and still active yacht clubs in the country; the beloved Riverton Public School which just turned one hundred; treasured churches and other institutions, as well as businesses and a hometown to almost 3,000 proud Rivertonians.

Our masthead banner, derived from a delightful folk art painting by Riverton author and artist, Anne Knight Ruff, evokes the charm and vitality of our richly historic borough and serves as your invitation to explore it further with us.


Christmas in July at the HSR

image courtesy Moore's Postcard Museum

image courtesy Moore’s Postcard Museum

No, not really, and it’s not a sale at your favorite discount store either.

But I do feel like I just got a big present to open when I find in my email these scans gifted to us by a postcard collector friend and frequent contributor to our archives.

Find nine new additions to our vintage postcard image collection below.

Regular visitors here know that the Society owns very few real postcards and that much of our virtual catalog of vintage postcards consists of scans, or digital files, contributed by collectors who have shared their prized images here.

Perhaps no images have elicited more comments from visitors than the many picture postcards of the Jersey Shore. The views often launch a reverie that compels them to leave a comment like the ones below.

  • Thank you for posting the wonderful (Avalon) images. My very happiest childhood memories are of my family’s two-week vacations to Avalon from 1964 to 1969. – Gregory G.
  • … I worked at the Harbor Theatre for several summers. It was fun to see what it used to look like. Also did not realize that St. Paul’s had such a long history in Stone Harbor. I still attend Mass there. This was a wonderful treat to see these pictures. – Eileen P.
  • I will be 70 in April and for a few hours of looking at your pictures I was a kid again. – Margaret S.
  • I was a lifeguard at Beach Haven in 1958 and 1959….We used to go to the Baldwin (Hotel) in the evenings… – Robert B.
  • Love it! I always featured Lucy (the Elephant Hotel) when teaching about New Jersey in fourth grade. The good old days! – Susan D.
  • Thanks for posting all the pics…My first trip to Stone Harbor was 1959, the last year of the old Shelter Haven. Spent many fun summers working there. McClures gulf, short stop restaurant, hahns…still remember pizza alley and the old wooden freds tavern. Haven’t been in SH since 2000, but think about it alot. agasin, thanks for the memories. stayed at Carolyn hotel and later the Sherwood house, both long gone. – Jim A.

Browse for a while in the many categories of our IMAGES section and see to where and when the pictures transport you. Leave a note if you wish. Please contact us if you have vintage postcards or ephemera of the South Jersey/Delaware Valley region to donate or wish to send us scans. – JMc

 

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Lucy celebrates her 134th next Saturday

A certain lady we know is celebrating her 134th birthday next Saturday, July 18, and as we have reported on her advancing years before, we thought it time to provide an update.

Lucy_bday-poster2015Lucy is as gorgeous as ever and you may want to attend her party if you’re in the neighborhood.

Find more info about the festivities here  at the Save Lucy Committee website and read about her fascinating history here.

The slideshow below consolidates Lucy images seen elsewhere on rivertonhistory.com.

Do you have another? There’s always room for one more! Please contact us by email (rivertonhistory@gmail.com) to arrange to send a scan. – JMc

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Riverton’s 118th July 4th Parade is history now; HSR Archives & Museum underway

HSR propagandists Bill Hall, Susan Dechnik

HSR propagandists Bill Hall, Susan Dechnik

2015 palm card A

click on image to view other side

HSR member Susan Dechnik shares these photos below she took July 4th.

She and Bill Hall and several other proselytizers were passing out our Glorious Fourth Palm Cards among the revelers bearing bits of borough history on one side and a pitch to become a member on the other.

Although recently retired as HSR treasurer, our goodwill ambassador Paul Daly also distributed the cards as he has for many years. The practice seems to have been started around 1987, possibly by Dan Campbell.

I have cards from 1987 thru this year except for 1992 and 1996. Maybe they were skipped for those years, but if any still survive in a kitchen drawer somewhere, please advise.

You’re thinking, “Shouldn’t you guys know? You are the historical society.”

HSR wants you1 (Copy)Uh…no. And you would be surprised how often our capability is over estimated. But we would like to improve that and, in numbers there is strength.

Kindly consider adding your name to our number.

HSR archives and museum logo (Copy)These are heady times indeed for the Society as renovations in the Library basement will soon enable us for the first time to set up a physical museum of sorts.

The Historical Society of Riverton invites you to join in our effort to make Riverton history more accessible by helping to underwrite the expense of this worthwhile project with your membership.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Find the complete Riverton 4th of July Committee’s 2015 Program booklet here.

Find waaaay more pix and some video on the Riverton 4th of July Committee’s Facebook page.

Find Christian Hochenberger’s photos here, but know that the display is not permanent. Enjoy while you can. – JMc

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor Brown fashions a new July 4th parade baton

Fourth of July at Riverton, July 3, 1865 Philadelphia Inquirer p.2

Fourth of July at Riverton, July 3, 1865 Philadelphia Inquirer p.2

The July 3rd, 1865 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer announced “The Democratic citizens of the beautiful and flourishing town of Riverton… intend celebrating the Fourth of July in grand style.”

Children's Parade, vintage postcard scan courtesy of Nick Mortgu

Children’s Parade, vintage postcard scan courtesy of Nick Mortgu

As the Great Day approaches, some may wonder how some of our July Fourth traditions started. Here is a sequel to the origin story of the mayor’s parade staff.

The subject of the parade baton that the mayor wields as the July Fourth Parade traverses Main Street has been touched on in these pages before.

Mayor Martin with 2nd banded staff and President of Borough Council, Bob Smyth

Mayor Martin with 2nd banded staff and President of Borough Council, Bob Smyth, July 2011

We reprinted here the findings of former Town Historian Betty Hahle and learned there were not one, but two staffs.

And it seems she reached a different conclusion from what been reached earlier in the 1965 Riverton Yacht Club Centennial Booklet – that the staffs had come from India. Admitting that history is not static, and the discovery of new materials can change the our interpretation of events, she reasoned that they instead originated from Switzerland.

Whatever the ancestry of those first two staffs, we can be certain of the provenance of the most recent addition to the Borough’s collection of parade batons.

This past November, I was talking about the parade baton with Mayor William C. Brown and he mentioned in passing that he had to fashion a new staff himself for the 2014 July 4th promenade.

Wait…what?

That is the very definition of Riverton history so I pressed the former marine for details of the news that was already several months old.

Mayor Brown explains:

Riverton Mayor Edward Stoughton, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 2, 1898, p.35

Riverton Mayor Edward Stoughton, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 2, 1898, p.35

The Mayor of Riverton’s tradition of carrying a staff during the Annual Fourth of July Parade, was started by Mayor E.C. Stroughton in 1897.

So that every year since then, a metal plate was added with the current mayor’s name, the year, and the number of children that marched in the parade.

There are three staffs in the Borough office, and legend has it that they came from trees located in Riverton. I’ve not found anything written about the first two, however I can state that the current staff did come from a Riverton tree.

I searched the wooded area along the park till I found a tree floating in the Pompeston Creek. I cut it loose, trimmed it out, and took it home, where I stripped, sanded, stained and applied two coats of varnish to preserve it.

Mayor Bill Brown, July 4, 2014

Mayor Bill Brown, July 4, 2014

One has to admire Mayor Brown’s unpretentious and no-nonsense account of how he humbly came to add another page to Riverton lore. And to think that we would have missed it if I had not brought it up.

History of flag parade staff, New Era, June 28, 1934, p.1

History of flag parade staff, New Era, June 28, 1934, p.1

This column from a June 28, 1934 New Era outlines the history of the Flag Parade Staff and lists the number of children participation from 1897 through 1933.

The  loss of those old hometown newspapers left such a gap in our historical record. If you have not yet explored them, browse though some pages. You might find someone mentioned you know.

If you have any issues we do not have, please donate them or allow us to scan the pages.

July 4th Parade batons

July 4th Parade batons

While Riverton history of old is worth preserving, so too, it is worth recording events of today. The approach of our Glorious Fourth is sure to cause much reminiscing and retelling of family tales.

Leave one below in the comments box, or let us know what draws so many to return to this “unique” place each July Fourth.

Have a great holiday! – JMc

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Many hands contribute to the success of the fifth Historic Riverton Criterium

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Under the sweltering heat of today’s sun, the fifth running of the Historic Riverton Criterium was exciting for spectators, punishing for competitors, and all the excuse many needed to throw a porch or backyard party. Those arriving just in time for such events may have missed this.  Below, a crew erects the framework that holds the photo finish camera. It’s just one of the many heavy lifting jobs, literally and figuratively, that get done before the first race starts. – JMc

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | 1 Comment