Our Purpose and Mission
The Historical Society of Riverton was established in 1970 to bring together people interested in history, especially the history of the Borough of Riverton, New Jersey, but not limited thereto.
The Society’s mission is to create an awareness of our heritage, to discover, restore and preserve local objects and landmarks, and to continue to expand our knowledge of the history of the Riverton area.
Membership is open to the public by contacting the Historical Society of Riverton.
Historical Society of Riverton Board of Directors
- Phyllis Rodgers: President
- Cheryl Smekal: 1st Vice President, Programs Chair
- Pat Brunker: 2nd Vice President, Membership Chair
- Susan Dechnik: 3rd Vice President, Publicity
- Paul Daly: Treasurer
- Donald Deitz
- Ed Gilmore, Past Vice President
- Nancy Hall
- Patricia Solin: Secretary
- Elsie Waters
- William McDermott: Historic Markers & House Plaques
- Michael Spinelli
- John McCormick: Newsletter, Website
Riverton Founded in 1851
“Riverton was founded in 1851 by a group of ten men usually referred to as “Philadelphia merchants” who were seeking a place to build their summer homes away from the City’s problems, yet close enough to commute to their Center City places of business… According to the noted historian of American architecture, Henry Russell Hitchcock, Riverton was the first wholly planned residential subdivision in America.” – from Town Historian Mrs. Betty B. Hahle’s text which accompanies the 1926 film .
According to Bill Washington, author of Historic Riverton 1775-1930, the Riverton Improvement Company purchased 120 acres of land bordering the Delaware River. Samuel Sloan, a noted architect of the day, was hired to layout the community. Sloan laid out the town with building, street and fencing parameters intended to retain a sense of open space.
Contrary to the traditional city grid layout, Sloan laid out the streets irregularly, with some straight and some curved. This created the 105 lots that were not uniform in size and/or shape. The community would serve as a regional origin and destination for water transportation, and a steamboat pier was included as one of its primary features.
Did You Know?
- Riverton Public School celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. Riverton’s first “big” schoolhouse was built at the corner of Fourth & Howard Streets in 1892 by contractors Grant & Lowden at a cost of $4,400.
- Burlington County’s first kindergarten was in Riverton in 1897.
- The Riverton Fourth of July Parade began in 1897 as “The Children’s Parade” featuring children in costumes on decorated bicycles and carts. In 1915, over 500 children marched in the parade.
- The glow of 80 Victorian style gaslights illuminate Riverton’s main streets; they include 52 original gaslights and 28 reproduction gaslights.
- Prior to his election to the Presidency of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt visited Riverton and stayed at the home of Samuel Allen, a Pennsylvania Railroad executive, who lived at 404 Lippincott Avenue.
- In September 1998, Riverton received approval of a New Jersey Historic Register District containing 526 structures and in 1999 received the designation of a National Register District.
- The New Leaf Tea Room & Gift Shoppe building at 606 Main Street celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. It was originally built in 1910 to serve as the William H. Stiles Drug Store.
- New Jersey’s Parent Teachers Association originated in Riverton in 1900 by the Mother’s Circle group of the Riverton Porch Club.
- In 1891, the Riverton Fire Company paid $2.00 to the first man arriving at the engine house with a horse to pull apparatus to a fire.
- Riverton Yacht Club, organized July 1, 1865, today stands as the oldest yacht club on the Delaware River, ninth oldest in the United States.
- A national class sailboat, the Duster, began in 1933, in the third floor workshop of Jim Merrill and his father Commodore E.K. Merrill at 301 Main Street.
These fascinating facts about Riverton are from palm cards collected by Society Treasurer, Paul Daly, who distributes the cards during the Fourth of July Parade.