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.


Anticipation builds toward Riverton’s 115th Glorious July 4th

Bouquets of patriotic red, white, and blue decorations have burst into bloom this past week as Riverton readies for its 115th “Glorious Fourth.”

Patriotic displays have sprouted up all over town – Jim McQuaide, manager of Tristate HVAC, has decked out the landmark building for its first Independence Day under new ownership.

Now if the predicted thunderstorms will just hold off, the shoreline (shown above on July 2) should be awash in a flood of spectators viewing the Sixth Annual Great Riverton Raft Race at about 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.

2012 July 4th Program – Click on image to download PDF file of entire booklet

You can see the entire schedule of events in the 2012 July 4th Program found here. Click here for the official website of the July 4th Committee.

The cover illustration from this year’s July Fourth Program shows an image of the famous “Riverton Nine” baseball team of 1872 taken from the baseball memorabilia collection of Bob Beishline of Palmyra.

 

 

Bob Beishline’s original photo of 1872 Riverton baseball team

In  2002, Bob, Mike Robinson, Betty Hahle and a few others were among the first to help me start what has eventually grown into a huge virtual online collection of vintage images by kindly letting me scan their postcard collections.  

 

Bill Hall’s Sporting Life clipping

Later, Bill Hall provided me with a Sporting Life magazine clipping showing the same team. When I showed the photos during a presentation at a Society meeting, it was William Harris who explained the caption in the photo. FREDERICK K. MOORE CENTER simply meant that Moore was in the center.

 

“Frannie” Cole, 1938 Riverton Athletic Assn. baseball team

All of this concern about baseball is because Mr. Fran Cole, HSR member and lifetime resident of Riverton, who is Parade Marshall this year, used to be quite a baseball athlete and remains among the most fanatic of Phillies fans. He was even inducted into the Palmyra High School Sports Hall of Fame.

As a result of interviewing Mr. Cole about his memories as a young man working for his grandparents’ Cole Dairy during the 1930s, I had several photos of Fran from his baseball playing days. (See related 2010 Gaslight News story here and his oral history interview in three segments here:  Mr. Francis Cole Remembers Cole Dairy Part 1Part 2Part 3. )

Fran Cole – photo by Bennett Landsman

 

So by an extraordinary amount of luck and best laid plans we here at the Society just happened to be able to help out July Fourth Committee Chairperson, Mrs. Tracy Hansen Foedisch, when she asked for a hand with supplying some images for this year’s program booklet. It’s nice when we can help reveal some part of Riverton’s past with what we have collected. In a past post I compared the task to completing a jigsaw puzzle.

It is an extraordinary privilege, and no small responsibility, to be able to curate the archives of the Historical Society of Riverton for the use of Rivertonians.  As family and friends congregate during this July Fourth celebration, may I interrupt for a commercial message?

Please help preserve Riverton history by donating your Riverton related photos, collectibles, documents, and memorabilia, or at least send us a scan or photo. If you can help us in this endeavor, please contact us.

2012 July 4th Palm Card – both sides

During the parade HSR members Paul Daly, Gerald Weaber, and myself will be distributing this year’s edition of the Historical Society’s July 4th Palm Cards. The earliest one I have of these is from 1987. Former HSR President Dan Campbell may have started the tradition which  seems to have continued through 2004 when it apparently stopped.

We resumed the tradition again last year when HSR Treasurer Paul Daly wondered out loud, ” How come we don’t give out those cards on July Fourth anymore?”  (See more July 4th Palm Cards here.) If you have any cards for years not shown in this list, please send us a scan of both sides. July 4th Palm Cards: 1987-1990, 1993-1995, 1997, 1999, 2000-2004.

Tristate HVAC, a former post office, decked out for Independence Day

If you have some time to kill, type “July 4″ or “July Fourth” in the search box at the top right of the home page. That should result in many hits for earlier posts and images related to the holiday.

Have a Glorious and Safe Fourth of July wherever you find yourself. Check back here later for more July Fourth posts.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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Walking Tour of Historic Riverton brochures are available at the New Leaf

The Historical Society of Riverton’s June meeting ended with a stop at Nellie Bly’s  Ice Cream Parlour. By the time members had covered on foot the route of a seventeen-stop walking tour, they were ready to sit down and relax with one of the shop’s refreshing treats.

We planned that last meeting before our summer hiatus as a practice run for the recently revised Walking Tour of Historic Riverton. (See related story here.) President Gerald Weaber called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Riverton School Media Center and dealt with several Society matters before adjourning to the outdoors.

 

The group watched a short slide show to introduce the planned activity–with a draft copy of the Walking Tour in hand, we were to hike the course and scrutinize it for errors of any kind so that we can get copies printed and make them available.

The link for the PowerPoint slide show is here.

 

Gerald hosted a parallel tour on a bus provided by Riverview Estates for the convenience of Riverview residents and any Society members who did not care to walk. Among the thirteen passengers was a 102 year-old former employee of Campbell’s Soup, a fact volunteered when the bus stopped in front of 308 Main, the former home of Joseph Campbell who founded that company.

Mrs. Pat Brunker, at left, directs the HSR flock along the Walking Tour route

Mrs. Pat Brunker directed the group on foot as we completed the circuit of seventeen locations that went along Main toward the river to Third, then went back toward Broad along Howard Street.

Mr. Renn at 410 Main

As our small but ardent force of curious sight-seers trekked from pillar to post, we were sometimes met by a quizzical homeowner who came out to see why all these nosy people were gesturing toward their house.

It was definitely an asset to have several new faces at this Walking Tour rehearsal because much of the history of these homes and structures in Riverton is oral history– stories and anecdotes passed down by word of mouth, that may or may not remain accurate with each retelling, and are seldom found in books or documents.

This post is a reproduction – not original to the home.

Jan and Dennis DeVries–their information helped to avoid errors on the Walking Tour brochure

You know the danger when one assumes? Homeowner Mr. Dennis DeVries explained that although the carriage mounting block at the curb was original to the house, the cast iron hitching post and fence posts were modern reproductions.  Mrs. Jan DeVries pointed out that Joseph Campbell built other homes for his children close to this one.

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. DeVries then invited us for an impromptu tour of their garden, a gesture most appreciated by anyone who missed seeing it on the recent Porch Club Garden Tour. (See related post here.)

This illustrates why the best authorities about these homes are the residents themselves as I found out when I spoke to Mr. Keith Betten previously while I tried to reconcile some contradictions between dates on house signs and dates on the old Walking Tour brochure.

404 Main (top) and 402 Main (bottom) have the same floor plan; 402 is oriented at a right angle to 404

Mr. Betten, the current owner of 404 Main Street, explained how he researched his deed and  that he had found the signature of Edward Pancoast, the home’s first owner, scrawled on a wall inside an upstairs closet.  I knew that Pancoast had designed and built 404 and 402 Main, but Keith showed me why his home and 402 Main, next door, are “sister” houses–the exteriors and roof lines may seem different, but the floor plans are identical. I had not seen that before.

As Mr. Betten invited me to see the splendid English garden at the rear of the home he explained that the driveway just outside the gate afforded Charles Flanagan, a later owner of the home, access to the Riverton Lyceum which once stood at Fourth and Main where he served as secretary and treasurer.

301 Main, the house where the Duster was born

Surely there are many more stories about Riverton’s people and institutions that are not well-known or recorded. When our tour patrol got to 301 Main someone in the group said that they thought a photo exists of that Duster being hoisted out of the third floor window. Now, that’s one I’d like to see!

Another one I heard the night of the meeting that I must try to verify was about a Riverton homeowner who cut into an interior wall in his house because he was perplexed that the wall dimensions did not make sense with the room, only to find a hidden liquor still within the space. Whaaaat???

Such stories only grow more faint with the passage of time.  If you would care to share any facts or stories which may help us in compiling information for other walking tours, please contact us with your ideas.

It turns out that the group did catch a few errors. After a few minor fixes to the text and renumbering several map locations we were ready to go to press.

You can see the finished result at the New Leaf where copies  of this first Walking Tour of Historic Riverton are available for $1.00. Other tours in the series will include Riverton Yacht Club and homes along the river, homes along Carriage House Lane, as well as locations south of the railroad tracks. We hope to design a separate children’s version and possibly offer a means for smartphone owners to access additional information from our website. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

 

 

 

 

 

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In case you missed it

In case you missed the bi-annual Garden Tour on June 2nd, sponsored by the Porch Club, you don’t have to wait two years for the next one because HSR President Gerald Weaber took these photos.

In advance of the Garden Tour, Christina Paciolla, a local journalist connected with CinnaminsonPatch, interviewed Rita Vittese and June Emens, co-chairs of this year’s event, about the eight private gardens on the tour. Her article, along with a map and descriptions of the garden locations, is found at this link.

Kristen Coppock, staff writer for phillyBurbs.com, questioned the Porch Club co-chairs about the prize-winning Ladies Garden Quilt being raffled off, and she also previewed three of the gardens and posted several photos. Find that complete article at this link.

As always, we welcome your comments and contributions. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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The Historic Riverton Criterium is on track to become a cherished Riverton tradition

What did you think of the bike race? Here are some stills and video clips that I took. Just google Historic Riverton Criterium to find many more on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet.

 

Download and view a MP4 video clip here: 2012 Criterium Category 4 Race,  129MB, 2 min., 13 sec.

Category 4 is for riders in their first or second season with some experience.

 

 

 

Download and view a MP4 video clip here: video clip 2012 Criterium Masters 35+ Race,  92MB, 1 min., 32

The masters 35+ race is for riders in their first or second season with some experience.

 

 

 

Download and view a MP4 video clip here:  2012 Criterium Cat 1/2/3 Race,  88MB, 1 min., 31

This race is for riders with intermediate, advanced, or national-caliber skills and experience.

 

 

Here is a link for an article that appeared in the Burlington County Times: http://www.phillyburbs.com/my_town/cinnaminson/bike-racers-compete-in-second-annual-historic-riverton-criterium/article_50836510-dc9c-53d4-87f2-71e395a25293.html

Browse through photos taken by Christian Hochenberger, a Riverton resident and Photography Club advisor at Shawnee High School, and his student Connor Pagano. Any purchases made benefit the photo club. http://shawneephotoclub.smugmug.com/Other/Riverton-Criterium-2012/23493691_76LWf4#!i=1898954095&k=cTrJjkm

See complete race results here: http://www.usacycling.org/results/?permit=2012-567

There is plenty to see on the Historic Riverton Criterium facebook page. Say “hi” to the race founder, Carlos Rogers, and like, comment, or share while you are there so you get the scoop on the HRC 2013!

To find out more about earlier posts about bicycles as covered in the pages of this Historical Society of Riverton website, click here.  – John McCormick

 

 

 

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Patrolman Thomas C. Whitelock Memorial Dedication – a photo gallery

Borough officials and the Riverton Police Association held a dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 2, 2012, for a granite memorial and plaque for Officer Thomas C. Whitelock who was killed in the line of duty in 1976. (see an earlier related post here)

These images depict members of law enforcement, Borough officials, and many area residents as they remember Officer Whitelock’s selfless act of heroism and dedicate a fitting memorial to his memory.

Read about the funeral of Officer Whitelock here – 1,000 police give comrade final tribute, Trenton Evening Times, January 21, 1976, pg. 29-30.

Thanks to Jim Quinn for permitting the use of his photos. – John McCormick,  Gaslight News editor

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