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.


Arthur not welcome here on the Fourth

Who invited this guy Arthur to Riverton’s Fourth? Everyone else is welcome to come, but send him on his way.

Arthur, of course, is the tropical storm that threatens to be a party spoiler, depending on the track it takes as it travels up the East coast Thursday into Friday.

There is no “rain date” for the parade, but the very thought that Riverton’s patriotic festivities might be in jeopardy gets people wondering.

When has the day ever been washed out? I don’t know.

Riverton's Fourth as described in The Phila. Inquirer, July 4, 1914

Riverton’s Fourth as described in The Phila. Inquirer, July 4, 1914

One hundred years ago no one was worried about a tropical storm. All thoughts were on the great Independence Day Celebration that lie ahead as described in the July 4, 1914 Philadelphia Inquirer .

A 1914 July Fourth Program just donated to the HSR gives more details of the big day including sailing instructions, prizes, and a history of the Yacht Club.

1914 Riverton Yacht Club Program

1914 Riverton Yacht Club Program

For a closer look at the rare hundred-year-old document, click on this link for a higher resolution PDF file.

Even I have heard of Facebook, but the appeal of Pinterest has eluded me. Then I read that it has an estimated 70 million users.

So I signed us up with the help of my friend Mike Solin who hooked us up with new buttons on our webpage for Facebook, Pinterest, Email, and Print.

Speaking of pictures, here are some Riverton homes decorated for the Fourth.

We will post some more pix of the great day and invite readers to send us some July 4th photos, new or old.

In fact, the older the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See you on the Fourth. – John McCormick

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Historic Preservation Awards debut at April 2014 HSR meeting

2014 Preservation Award Recipients

Gerald Weaber - Visual Approximation

Gerald Weaber – Visual Approximation

The idea to recognize remarkable examples of historic preservation of Riverton homes with an award in honor of Daniel Campbell originated with former HSR President Mr. Gerald Weaber, and this meeting now bears the fruit of his research efforts last year.

In succeeding him as HSR President, Phyllis Rodgers and an expanded HSR Board followed through this season to launch a new Preservation Award Night, held April 10 at the Porch Club, in which The Society recognized a number of people for their noteworthy home renovation projects. (The March 2014 Gaslight News previously profiled the homes and briefly explained the award. )

Paul Daly, Treasurer

Paul Daly, Treasurer

HSR President Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers called the meeting to order and a short requisite business portion of the meeting included various announcements as well as a customarily thorough treasurer’s report by Paul Daly, our own esteemed CPA on the job.

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Paul Schopp, right

Phyllis introduced Paul W. Schopp and congratulated him on his recent (March 5) designation by Riverton Borough Council as Borough Historian. Mrs. Rodgers noted Mr. Schopp’s vast knowledge of local history as well as contributing his invaluable expertise to the Society to past projects.

Mr. Schopp said that it is “hard to fill the shoes” of the former Town Historian, Betty Hahle, but he would do his best. (The position of Town Historian has been vacant since Mrs. Hahle passed in April 2011.)

Paul has certainly been my go-to guy for fact-checking stories and getting hard-to-find resources during my tenure as editor of the Gaslight News. Our former HSR President, Gerald Weaber, concurs saying, “No one else comes close to his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Riverton.

Mrs. JoAnn DiNoia, left: Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers, right

Mrs. JoAnn DiNoia, left: Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers, right

At the meeting Mrs. JoAnn DiNoia, Porch Club President, and Phyllis Rodgers displayed the Porch Club’s new sign, a cooperative project of  the HSR and The Porch Club.

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The sign was erected at a later date near the Club’s entrance.

Mrs. Rodgers then turned attention to our honored guest, former Riverton resident, Mr. Daniel T. Campbell, AIA. A distinguished past president of the Historical Society of Riverton and editor of the Gaslight News, Daniel Campbell is a Historic Architect widely recognized for his experience in restoration and preservation of historic architecture.

Dan Campbell

Dan Campbell

Citing his past preservation projects and honors, she explained “…it is therefore fitting” that the new HSR Preservation Award be named for him. Read more about Dan Campbell here and see more details about the award named in his honor here.

Award certificate and etched crystal paperweight

Award certificate and etched crystal paperweight

Then matters moved on to the main event – the presentation of five 2014 Daniel Campbell Preservation Award certificates and crystal diamond paperweights etched with the Society logo.

 

Dr. Michael Horn

Dr. Michael Horn

At the meeting we heard from Dr. and Mrs. Horn, Helen Hughes, John Laverty, and Michael Spinelli as they recounted the pleasures and pitfalls of renovating an old house.

 

the_money_pit Ummm… I think I saw that movie before.

Some of us even remember the original 1948 Cary Grant/Myrna Loy comedy film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, in which a hapless couple purchases a mr-blandings-builds-his-dream-house2200 year-old farmhouse only to meet a long litany of unforeseen troubles and setbacks.

But these Riverton characters had studied their parts and each story had a happy ending, resulting in homes absolutely transformed from their former states.

Check out the continuing saga of Helen Hughes’  renovation of the Biddle Mansion at 207 Bank Ave., and another about John Laverty’s home at 616 Main.

Here’s a few more snaps from the meeting.

Above photos by Susan Dechnik, John Laverty, and John McCormick

Start looking around your neighborhood for some potential Preservation Award nominees for 2015. – John McCormick

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Carlos Rogers made Riverton history again June 8, 2014

criterium jerseysHistory records the names and deeds of Riverton’s founders along with achievements of many citizens who have contributed to the Borough’s development. Know that these movers and shakers, these difference makers, who influence, inspire, energize, and improve us are not just mentioned in dusty old archives but that each age has its champions who leave a lasting legacy. Carlos Rogers, originator of the Historic Riverton Criterium, is a Riverton champion of the age in which we live.

The Historic Riverton Criterium, now in its fourth year, really is historic in that it is important, significant, consequential, and memorable. Riverton resident and race promoter Carlos Rogers has created an event, according to the HRC Facebook page, with a threefold mission, namely:

To promote the sport of bicycle racing, increase the visibility of Riverton as a historic residential and business community, and provide charitable contributions from proceeds of the race to local organizations.

He has succeeded famously on all three counts.

Participants and spectators alike now have many memories of how Carlos Roger’s dream to bring the excitement of a competitive cycling event to Riverton has come to herald the beginning of Riverton’s summer season. As the contest has grown in popularity, it has gained prestige among the racing community; success begets success.

For a compelling description of the phenomenon that has become the Historic Riverton Criterium from an athlete’s perspective (read that as, not from a geriatric newsletter editor’s view), see cyclist Mark Featherman’s personal account in The Featherman Chronicles. (He relates a bit of Carlos’ back story and includes a streaming ten-minute video shot from his bike during the race that takes you along for the ride.)

Dave Casale, another athlete who knows the deal with the HRC, describes his experience in the 2014 race in his blog:

The Historic Riverton Criterium is a top notch local race. It takes place on beautiful tree lined streets in South Jersey’s Riverton, passing the local police department, library, middle school, a church, and the promoter’s own house, all in a quick 1:36 lap. It’s local while it still has the feel of a much bigger race; it’s homey enough that you don’t mind setting up your beach chair on one of the neighbor’s front lawns, but you’ll likely target it as a priority race during the season. The prize money is very good, the competition can be fierce, yet all the kids running around the neighborhood still manages to keep the event feeling stress free, at least until you clip in.

For evidence that visibility of Riverton has increased as a result of the HRC, one need only to pick up a newspaper, turn on a TV, or check one’s newsfeed. Local newspapers, as well as a mention in May’s South Jersey Magazine publicized the event. (Most links to newspaper stories require a subscription to view.)

The unexpected bonus for the community has been the philanthropic aspect that has been part of each Historic Riverton Criterium since the first one launched in 2011. Various area organizations have directly benefited as a result of Carlos’ altruism including Riverton Free Library, Riverton Memorial ParkPolice Unity Bike Tour – Patrolman Jeff WalkerPalmyra Ambulance AssociationRiverton Shade Tree CommissionBoy Scouts of America Troop 9, Christ Episcopal Church (Riverton), Historical Society of Riverton, and Palmyra-Riverton Athletic Association.

So while the athletes have come here each second Sunday in June since 2011 for the chance to win recognition, rewards, and bragging rights, many thousands of dollars in contributions from race proceeds have had a big impact on the treasuries of local community groups.

Carlos’ success with this modern race caused another consequence by influencing ex-Riverton resident Rob Gusky to organize the recent Historic Riverton Century bicycle ride in 2014 to commemorate the 1895 New York Times Tri-State Relay Race from New York City to Riverton.

By definition then, Carlos Rogers and his Historic Riverton Criterium are now part of the pages of history recorded on rivertonhistory.com as well as here and elsewhere. We congratulate Carlos for his leap of faith in Riverton’s ability to embrace a new tradition and thank him for his extraordinary generosity in contributing thousands of dollars of race proceeds to area causes and organizations.

We wish to see the Historic Riverton Criterium continue for years to come and hope you enjoy these glimpses of some of the good times and excitement the 2014 event generated.

Slide show photos by John McCormick. Featuring Joshua Matisoff, the Balloon Guy, Wade’s Snooo Train, appearances by The Wheelmen, and music by Package Goods
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Historic Riverton Century Riders Arrive

Are they here yet? Are they here yet?

Are they here yet? Are they here yet?

A small but spirited crowd welcomed the police escorted cyclists as they arrived about 7:29 p.m., almost two hours behind their scheduled appearance here because of flat tires and broken spokes.

District Riverton Bistro, Susan Dechnik, Ryan Brandenburger

District Riverton Bistro, Susan Dechnik, Ryan Brandenburger

More details in a later post, but for now, all riders’ thoughts are on a quick shower and the team dinner at The District Riverton Bistro.

The next acts of this Riverton reality series follow on Sunday with the 10 a.m. dedication of the historic marker for the Riverton Bicycle Track and then the return of the Fourth Annual Historic Riverton Criterium at 1:00 p.m.

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– Video by Chris Halt, Stills and story by John McCormick

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News from the front

HRC riders in NYC this morning

HRC riders in NYC this morning

This just in… heard from Helen Mack on the road to Nancy Hall’s phone to Susan Dechnik’s, to mine, then directly to you…

It looks like the riders will be delayed in their arrival to Riverton by an hour or more. I am going over to Riverton now to help cheer them upon their arrival around 6:30-7:00 p.m.

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