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.


Plan of the New Town of Riverton

I have used parts of a certain undated Riverton map to illustrate a few web and newsletter articles (most recently, GN #158) and I have been asked about it. This is what I know.

The full title:plan of new town of riverton titleI do love a good font. So Riverton–no-nonsense.

And the embellishments such as the sidewheeler steamboat at the bottom and locomotive spewing smoke at the top make this depiction of Riverton’s development at its outset worthy of displaying on a collector’s wall.

Except that this one is an inaccurate and half-faked copy.

Marilyn Lippincott had a Xerox copy of the map and she let me scan it. Some parts were very light or missing altogether.  Using a photo editing program I spent hours trying to resuscitate it; I darkened it and extrapolated (basically, guessed) the missing lot numbers, lines, and other components, so I cannot represent this as a faithful copy.

Still, half a loaf…

Riverton new plan map (2400x2427)So by popular demand (for those two people who asked), here is the flawed map.

I publish it in the hope that someone out there on the web can help us fill in missing pieces. Like a date? Was this part of some sales literature to induce potential buyers’ interest? Can I get my mitts on a better copy so that we may make this murky bit of Riverton history more clear?

The Society sincerely appreciates donations of real items which help us reconstruct Riverton’s history. Giving a scan or photo is always an alternative for the collector who wishes to keep ownership while still sharing the information. Please keep us in mind before more local history slips away. – John McCormick

 

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Reserve your seat for for Winterthur’s Downton Costume Exhibit

Downton Costume Winterthur publicityDownton Abbey Season 5 will premiere Sunday, January 4, 2015, 9pm ET on MASTERPIECE Classic on PBS.

Until then, we fans will have to get our Downton fix by reserving a seat for the Friday, December 5,  Society sponsored bus trip to the magnificent grounds of Winterthur Museum in Delaware to attend The Costumes of Downton Abbey Exhibition.

Plus, being at Winterthur decorated for the Holidays will be a bonus. – JMc

PS: Yeah, to keep you guessing I had two different spellings of Winterthur here, as I did in the newsletter. Fixed here now, but I will have to look like a dummy again in the Gaslight. Good luck pronouncing it.

 

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Bob Gleason returns Oct. 22 to play Poe at the Porch Club

Le_Corbeau-Manet,Ex Libris(c29)Gleason-Poe publicityNext month the Society will observe the 165th anniversary of passing of Edgar Allan Poe, the man who turned “Nevermore” into an enduring catchphrase, with a special performance at The Porch Club by actor/historian Bob Gleason.

Before Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, and way before Stephen King, this editor, poet, and critic created the very templates upon which the genre of detective fiction, as well as horror and science fiction are based.

Mr. Gleason last performed here at The Bank on Main in the guise of Abraham Lincoln. His trademark in-depth historical research and audience interactivity had us looking at Lincoln with fresh eyes.

By popular demand, Bob Gleason returns to portray Edgar Allan Poe, another of the many intriguing personalities from the more than twenty listed in his American Historical Theater repertoire.

The flyer at right publicizes the October 22 meeting for which there is a nominal $5 admission charge to defray costs of this professional performance set in the historic club house of Riverton’s Porch Club. – JMc

 

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Sept. Gaslight is in the mail; a few seats remain for the Downton Tea

With the Dowager’s wit, Alisa DuPuy reveals the real history behind the popular British TV drama.

Labor Day is behind us, the first Gaslight News after the summer break is in the mail, and here is news of the first of three upcoming events you may want to get in on.

We open with a HSR sponsored Downton Abbey Inspired Tea at The New Leaf Tearoom Sunday, Sept. 28. The captivating Alisa DuPuy returns to regale Downton Abbey fans with a Dowager Countess’ perspective on life in the manor house.

Phyllis Rodgers, member of the British aristocracy for the afternoon

Phyllis Rodgers, member of the British aristocracy for the afternoon

Downton buff Phyllis Rodgers tests guests’ knowledge of the show with trivia games, prizes, and surprises as they enjoy array of sandwiches, savories, scones, and desserts served to you by the attentive staff.

Guests enjoyed this Downton themed tea in March.

Guests enjoyed this Downton themed tea in March.

Your choice of two brewed teas accompany menu items such as Matthew Crawley’s “Death by Chocolate “ Cake, imaginatively named after cast characters to add to the fun.

The elegance of The New Leaf’s 1910 Tea Room may just transport you back to another place and time, at least for an afternoon.

Here’s the publicity flyer and event particulars.

There are a few seats left for this delightful diversion for an afternoon. – JMc

Downton Tea Sep 2014 publicity

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Will the Floyd L. Moreland Dentzel/Looff Carousel come home to Burlington?

old carousel11

Island Beach Amusement Park Carousel, IMAGE CREDIT: PWS Collection

Following up on the Seaside Heights Carousel post from last week, my friend Paul Schopp forwards this undated image of that same attraction in an earlier incarnation when it started delighting riders in 1901, at Burlington Island, at the Island Beach Amusement Park.

Events today can turn on a dime, and the emotions aroused by the impending auction of the Seaside Heights Carousel have given rise to a new effort to bring the carousel back to its hometown, Burlington.

Guernsey’s Auctioneers posts a press release and many photos accompanied by a tune from the carousel’s Wurlitzer here. No telling how long that will be available.

Connor Newman. a Doane Academy senior, created “Bring Burlington Island Carousel Home” July 14, at gofundme.com.

It doesn’t cost anything to hear about his crusade to save the historic amusement from being relocated elsewhere or sold off piecemeal. Large Letter Greetings from Burlington, NJ [800x506]And his passion for the cause might just inspire you to even sign up to give a buck toward the $2.7 million goal or make a comment on Facebook.

Cheryl Baldorossi-Painter provides this description for the FB group she started to  compliment Newman’s crowdfunding appeal.

Casino Pier, of Seaside Heights, is selling their historic carousel, most likely in pieces. This isn’t just any carousel though, this one of the only four original, hand-carved, working carousel’s left in the world. It started its life on Burlington Island, at the Island Beach Amusement Park, in 1901. It then survived the park’s two fires and its eventual close. It was then sent to Casino Pier and has remained there, one of the only rides to survive both Hurricane Sandy, and the 2012 Seaside Heights fire. What we want to do is bring this carousel back to its hometown, Burlington. This is a historic piece full of life, spirit, and memories, of many people of both Seaside Heights and Burlington. It would be a shame to let it dissapear from the world. That’s why we need your help. We need to raise a lot of funds to save the carousel from destruction. Connor Newmann has started a go fund me campaign to save the carousel up now for auction by Seaside Heights. Support him and his efforts to bring the carousel back to where it originated, historic Burlington City, NJ. Please add friends to this group so we can bring the carousel back home.

Watch as the social network members post news of the latest developments, “exploring every avenue to keep it from being dismantled”, including forming a non-profit and praying for a “Hail, Mary” assist from Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.

For those interested in pursuing further the origin story of the historic carousel whose survival has now captured the attention of so many people, read about the Floyd L. Moreland Dentzel/Looff Carousel at discoverseasideheights.com. Since there is every likelihood that the webpage will be taken down, we reluctantly quote a portion of it here:

The Historic Seaside Heights’ Carouselthe carousel at the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights

The Casino Pier carousel has, like many storied carousels, an interesting history. The machine was originally part of a trolley park called Island Beach Park. Oddly enough this was not the Island Beach found just miles from Seaside Heights but was located in Burlington, NJ. In 1928 the park burned and the fire damaged the carousel. An area resident, Linus Gilbert, rescued and rebuilt the machine. He bought and added carved figures that were not part of the original. This resulted in a carousel with a mixture of animals from a few different revered carvers, some of whom had worked from different carousel manufacturers. The work of William Dentzel, Marcus Illions, Charles Carmel, and Charles Looff are all represented in this one carousel. The carousel was brought from Burlington to Seaside Heights in 1932. It was placed in an open frame building and was still under the care and management of Linus Gilbert. This first building was the beginnings of what would later become the Casino Arcade and Casino Pier. When the carousel building was first built there was a fishing pier located a short distance away. The pier then had nothing to do with what was soon to become a growing amusement area. Eventually the “Seaside Heights Casino” was built to house the carousel and to add more attractions around it. This same building is still in place today. The most recent large scale change to the structure took place in the 1980’s. The building was made smaller to keep it from blocking Ocean Boulevard, which is the main street paralleling the western side of the boardwalk. The Casino Pier carousel was almost lost to another disaster – selling off the animals to collectors. The owners of the carousel seriously considered dismantling their machine in the 1980s. Some animals fetched more than $100,000 at auction during that decade. The selling off of the animals met strong opposition from an unlikely corner, Dr. Floyd Moreland. At the time he was Professor of Classics and Dean at the City University of New York. He had ridden the carousel as a child and later operated the ride as an employee of the Casino Pier. Dr. Moreland convinced the owners they should let him restore the carousel. This project took a number of years and involved numerous people chipping in their time or money to help Dr. Moreland. Their collective efforts helped bring back the vibrancy and beauty of the carousel.

Riverton Yacht Club & Columbia 1905

Riverton Yacht Club & Columbia 1905

For more history of Island Park on Burlington Island and truly rare old images see the scans and information our expert Town Historian has posted here (scroll about halfway down the page).

You have seen before on this website here  several image variations of the steamer Columbia.

Mr. Schopp reveals more details about the amenities of the boat that “…became the queen of the excursion trade, operating innumerable trips to the various picnic groves along the river shore, moonlight dance cruises and, beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, to the many amusement parks that dotted the Delaware River shore.”

Waiting for my Columbia ticket

Waiting for my Columbia ticket

Actually makes me wish I could go back in time.   – John McCormick

P.S. To further illuminate the topic for extreme carousel devotees Paul explains that the terms merry-go-round and carousel are not synonymous – “A carousel features a menagerie of different hand-carved animals while a merry-go-round only carries horses.

Pride of London Carousel, IMAGE CREDIT Flickr

Pride of London Carousel, IMAGE CREDIT Flickr

Another tidbit of information concerning these wonderful amusement rides: American carousels and merry-go-rounds travel in a cyclonic or counterclockwise direction while those in Great Britain go around clockwise.”

Remember you read it here. You know you’ll use this bit of minutiae in a conversation soon. Thank you, Paul.

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