Events conspired against getting this month’s GN to members in time to publicize the Nov. 14 meeting

It’s not like I didn’t try to get done on time.

The feature article about the history of the recently razed Cinnaminson Home was already running long, but I was missing some bits, so colleague Paul W. Schopp helped direct me to more sources.

Reshuffling the story delayed my getting the issue to the printer, which pushed back the job to Monday. After quickly stuffing envelopes with the issue this morning, I rushed to the post office only to find them closed for Veterans Day.

So, there’s no way that folks will get the issue in time to tell them of the November 14 meeting @ 7pm  featuring Keith Henley’s presentation on the life of World War I hero Sgt. Henry “Black Death” Johnson.

So, that’s my excuse for my homework being late.

Check out the November 2018 GN issue #177 here.

Look for the enclosed 2019 membership form. 

We hope to see you at the Nov. 14 meeting and at our display at the Library during the Candlelight House Tour on Dec. 1, 2018.

A “like” or “share” on Facebook might circulate this in time to help some people to show up Wednesday night. -JMc

Redevelopment of former Cinnaminson Children’s Home will provide low-income senior housing


site of former Cinnaminson Home, 10-25-2018

Demolition of the Cinnaminson Home, at 1410 Riverton Road, is a sign that the long-awaited $12 million project to transform the site into 54 units of low-income senior housing is finally underway.

So what was the Cinnaminson Home?

The answer depends on when you mean.

Children’s Home 1897 from The New Era 75th Anniv Issue, 1965, p15

Most recently, the Cinnaminson Home for the Aged served as an assisted living facility for elderly adults. It closed in 2002, and Cinnaminson Township purchased the site in 2005.

Cinnaminson Home for Convalescent Women

But long before that, the building opened for ten weeks in the summer of 1897 to give a visit of one week for a total of three hundred poor children of Philadelphia. The story of how that endeavor originated and how the home evolved is the subject of a developing story for The Gaslight News.

Children’s Summer Home, Riverton, NJ

The HSR has some images from the 1890s, early 1900s, and very recent ones, plus a Cinnaminson Home Cookbook, and some newspaper articles but would like other photos and information to help in completing this story. -JMc


Mugs for sale Sunday in RFL basement 1-3pm

If there was ever a gift idea for someone from this area that would make them ask, “Where did you get this?” it’s one of these mugs with a local history theme derived from vintage photos, postcards, and maps from the archives of the Society

We even turned an old matchbook into a mug! The new Tacony-Palmyra Bridge mug sold out at its first showing at our Sept. 26 meeting.  More are on order.

Our area is too rich in history to just offer two or three choices for mugs.

If you have a memory of a place in Riverton, we probably have a mug about it. Our exclusive designs depict vintage images of Riverton Golf Club, the Porch Club, Riverton Fire Co., Riverton Yacht Club, churches, businesses, railroad stations, street scenes, old maps, and more.

Riverside, Palmyra, and Moorestown are also represented.

See dozens of mugs on Sunday, Oct. 7, from 1-3 pm. (The RFL runs its used book sale at the same place and time.) Cash or check accepted. All proceeds benefit the Historical Society of Riverton.  – John McCormick


Today’s nonagenarians are in this 1946 PHS Washington, DC Trip photo

PHS Class of 1946 – Wash DC Trip

We have had this photo in a heavy wooden frame for a while, and nobody gets to see it in the Library basement. Resolution here is not ideal*, but maybe someone out there can make out a familiar face.

Some of these kids would be about 90 today.

Taken May 2, 1946, this was the first class to graduate after World War Two.

The New Era, June 6, 1946, p8

A month later, a commencement program on June 6, 1943, marked the end of a high school experience that had been so overshadowed by the specter of that global conflict.

The New Era, June 13, 1946, p1

To help place a name with a face, here is a list of Palmyra High School Class of 1946 grads.  The June 13 issue of The New Era also acknowledged those students receiving awards.

See the asterisks that indicate several members of the US Navy.

Holler if you see someone you know.

*I used a photo scan app on my phone to capture the class photo. -JMc


Everybody wants one

Sometimes two.

Our exclusive mugs with local history themes derived from vintage photos, postcards, and maps in the archives of the Society are back in stock.

Mugs will be on sale before and immediately after the September 26 meeting at Riverton Free Library.

Some styles are limited in quantity so call ahead or message us if you want one reserved for that night.

See this mug poster to see all the available styles.


revised 9/26: At tonight’s meeting we sold 8 mugs and took orders for 2 more that had sold out. Special orders don’t upset us. Most mugs are available in light or dark blue, white, black, pink, or red. We’ll do it again before the meeting on Nov. 14 when Keith Henley portrays Sgt. Henry Johnson, WWI hero, at Riverton Free Library. Please phone the number on the poster if you have questions or want to place an order. Seems all I get are junk calls so leave a message and I will return the call. Special orders generally take ten days to two weeks. – JMc


Hurricanes Then & Now

Trenton Evening Times Oct 29, 1954, Page 12

You may date yourself if you remember Hurricanes Hazel, Diane, or Gloria, but it is likely you or someone you know, can probably recall the effects of other tropical storms on our area.

Previously here, in August 2011, we reported on the effects of Hurricane Irene on our area. Only a year later, the Frankenstorm known as Hurricane Sandy resulted in the cancellation of classes for two days at Riverton School and pushed back the Palmyra Halloween Parade two days to November 1.

Time will only tell what effects this next hurricane has on our area.

Yesterday the National Weather Service upgraded Florence to a Category 4 storm, and governors of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina declared states of emergency.  While a hurricane’s effects on New Jersey are rare, Hurricane Florence could bring its residual effects to New Jersey.

According to Newsweek, parts of the state may experience heavy rain, coastal flooding, and high surf as Florence’s tropical storm-force winds pound the shore.

THE VAGABOND HURRICANE of 1903 killed around 35 people and caused millions in damage, particularly near the coastline. Dozens of buildings were destroyed, like this home in Sea Bright, New Jersey on Sept. 16, 1903.

Looking way back to September 1903, a hurricane dubbed “The Vagabond Hurricane” by the Atlantic City Press directly struck the state, making landfall on Atlantic City as an 80 mph hurricane.

Philadelphia Inquirer Sept 17, 1903 Philadelphia, PA p2

The September 17, 1903 Philadelphia Inquirer summarized the destuction sustained in New Jersey communities by that storm. It reported that the Vagabond Hurricane had damaged a score of sailing craft at Riverton Yacht Club and almost cost John Bell his life.

Trenton Evening Times Sept 23, 1938 p2

The western edge of the New England Hurricane of 1938 caused tropical storm-force winds and high waves on its way to landfall on Long Island. Storm surge along the Jersey Shore destroyed much of the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

The New Era, Sept 21, 1944, p1

The path and ferocity of the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 echoed effects of the 1938 storm and inflicted heavy damage to the shore towns on Long Beach Island, Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Cape May.

The New Era, Sept 21, 1944, p1

Riverton’s  The New Era newspaper described the toll taken on residents’ shore properties by the storm.

During World War II, military meteorologists working in the Pacific began to use women’s names for storms. In 1953, the National Hurricane Center adopted the method for use on storms originating in the Atlantic Ocean. Meteorologists for the Atlantic Ocean began using men’s names in 1979. Names for hurricanes are chosen from a list developed by the World Meteorological Organization.

Names of especially deadly and destructive hurricanes, like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, are often retired, and will not be used again.

If you remember a year for a hurricane but not the name of it (or vice versa), this historical list of hurricanes that affected New Jersey may help.

Finally, click here for’s 12 monster storms that rocked New Jersey.

Please share your recollection of a past hurricane’s effects on Riverton, and let us know how your neighborhood fares as we endure this latest tropical storm. Send text or photos to or share a Facebook post to our Facebook page.



Jeannette Rankin Presentation and Mugs at Sept. 26 HSR meeting

Carol Simon Levin as Jeannette Rankin

At the Historical Society of Riverton’s meeting on September 26, 2018, Carol Simon Levin will present The Life of Jeannette Rankin, America’s first female member of the US Congress in 1917.

  • PLACE: Riverton Library, 306 Main Street
  • DATE: Weds., Sept. 26
  • TIME: 7pm
  • Free Admission – Seating is Limited.
  • See more details about this event here.

In addition to the presentation, the Society will again make available for purchase the historically themed mugs that have proven so popular since their introduction in 2015.

There have been other Riverton collectible mugs made available over the years, including the cream-colored ones depicting pen and ink scenes of several Riverton landmarks by artist R.C. (Richard) Moore. They remain treasured keepsakes in many homes today.

Including the most recent additions, our choice of mugs has grown to more than 60 different styles now. You are sure to find a few for gifting others or for treating yourself.

Dishwasher safe and microwave safe 11 oz. mugs are $15 each with proceeds benefiting the HSR. – JMc

PS: If you missed the September issue of The Gaslight News, click here.

A former resident remembers a childhood spent at 109 Bank Avenue

109 Bank Ave, 2008 PHOTO: JMc

We get questions – lots of questions – here at, and most fall into one of two categories. Many website visitors are looking into family trees and finding clues to ancestors that lead them to the Historical Society of Riverton for answers. Another kind of question often comes from folks who want to know more about a home.

Such was the case with Rosalind Smith Edman, a reader from Williamstown, NJ, who grew up in Riverton, and inquired of us about her childhood home:

I grew up in Riverton. My parents owned 109 Bank Avenue from about 1948 to 1971. I am particularly interested in the history of our home… I love the Riverton History website. Thank you to you and all who give to it!

After sending Ms. Edman what we could about her former residence, she responded by writing the following first-person account on what she remembered about the home and growing up in Riverton. What we sent her about the property appears at the end.

I’ve just now been able to read the references and view the photo. I cannot tell you how appreciative I am of your having provided these for me! You may be interested in a little background from my vantage point – not of historical interest, but perhaps interesting – if you do not date back as far as I do in Riverton. I’ve attached a few pictures that give you an idea of the house when we lived there.

In 1948, my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph P.T. Smith, purchased 109 Bank Avenue as an entire package that included the small cottage, the pool, tennis courts (on which International Tennis Hall of Famer Bill Tilden is said to have seriously injured a finger, and the carriage house at the corner of Carriage House Lane and Thomas Avenues (all included in the references that you sent).  The Biddles – descendants of the Biddles so often mentioned in Riverton histories – were our neighbors across the street.

As a very young child (about 5 or 6), I can remember being fascinated by the carriage house – which contained a large sleigh among other things. My parents sold the carriage house to the Devery’s who converted it into a duplex – their own and a second property. They did such a magnificent job on the conversion that it appeared in (I believe) Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.

I do not remember if the small cottage was occupied when my parents purchased the property. I do know that Marcy Lippincott and his wife (who may have been a Ruff), purchased it from my parents, along with the large area in front of the cottage that had been the tennis court. It took years to grow grass, since the tennis court had been constructed so well with layers of sand or gravel to prevent grass growing on the clay court! 

My parents retained the large house and the pool. They had the home converted into 4 residences – 3 apartments and our own residence. There was a very large, lovely apartment that took up the entire third floor with beautiful views of the river. There was a smaller apartment on each of the other two floors – both facing Thomas Avenue and Carriage House Lane.

Our own living area  – the front of both first and second floors – included the billiard room (a professional pool table had been found in the carriage house that my father had refurbished and moved into one of the two large front rooms on the first floor). I recall that Willie Mosconi (famous professional pool player) must have worked with the company that refurbished the pool table and he came to the house for the final touches. My Dad always enjoyed telling that story.

The other large room in the front of the first floor was our living room. In between the two was a hallway and a beautiful staircase. Behind the living room was the original dining room – I think 30′. We did lots of entertaining there! There were something like 7 fireplaces in the house. Our area had one each in the living room, billiard room, dining room, and an upstairs bedroom. Our kitchen was a bit small – having been converted from the original butler’s pantry. (I remember having great fun while the house was being converted – checking out all the bells (under the dining room table and in each of the rooms) that had been used to summon the servants. There was also a wonderful “dumb waiter” that went from the first to the second floor.

wrap-around porch, early to mid-1960s

On the second floor, we had two large bedrooms in the front that corresponded to the billiard room and living room on the first floor. Each had large walk-in closets. The third bedroom corresponded to the dining room below – huge. Our two bathrooms had marble showers and, of course, large claw-foot bathtubs.  One could get lost in the 7-room basement which included a wonderful wine cellar room.  As you can tell, we kept the best of the house for ourselves. The large wrap-around porch was fabulous for entertaining – which, as I mentioned, we did quite a bit. In fact, my sister’s wedding reception was held under a large striped tent on the front lawn with dancing on the porch.

porte cochère (coach gate) at left, mid-60s-1970

The porch extended from the porte cochère all the way around to about 10-15 feet on the side of the house. It had pillars and a slate roof on the half of the porch that wrapped around from the left of front door (as you are facing out) to the side of the house.

house without the roof on the porch, mid-60s-1970

Around 1965, my mother and a friend had just gone inside the house, after having been sitting on the porch when they heard a huge sound. The entire slate roof had collapsed onto the porch! It was a miracle that they had not been killed. We have home movies of the roof being removed. The porch, however, was not damaged, or, if it was, it was repaired. We were sad to see that subsequent owners had the entire porch removed.

oldest pool in Riverton, early to mid-1960s

The pool provided hours and hours of fun. Hard to believe that it was installed for only $50 in 1920!! It required 40,000 gallons of water. In the early years before filters were available, my Dad would insist on emptying it and refilling it about every two weeks (in addition to, of course, keeping it chlorinated). It had two huge, magnificent long needle pine trees on either side which prevented it from getting a lot of warming sun. The water came from an artesian well and was, literally, about 50 degrees when it came into the pool. It took close to two weeks to reach a really comfortable temperature and at just about the perfect temperature, my Dad would say it was time to empty and refill it!! I think it took about 30 hours to fill.  We were ecstatic when we were able to have the filter installed and leave the water in all season!! 

my parents, Helen and Joseph Smith, on porch, early to mid-1960s

Our views of the river, the sailboats, the famous Riverton 4th of July celebrations – our own sailing and boating on the river – could not have provided a more delightful place in which to grown up.  We even named two subsequent, cruising sailboats that we owned “109” or “One-O-Nine”.  As my parents were growing older and we three children had all grown and moved away, my parents decided the time had come to sell the house, which they did in 1971.   

I’ve attached a few pictures that give you an idea of the house when we lived there. I have lots more, but the focus of most of my pictures is on the people in the pictures more than on the house or grounds. The attached pictures show the house with and without the roof on the porch, a view of the side lawn looking toward the pool (apparently after a storm took down a large branch on a tree near the pool), two of the pictures show my parents on the porch. 

Anyhow, thank you so very much again for sending the interesting information.  I just learned about a year ago that our home had been built in 1865. We had always thought that it had been built at the turn of the century.

Many wonderful memories!

We responded with…

It was my pleasure to find the house info for you. Receiving your first-person recollection of what it was like to live in that marvelous home when you did was a bonus.

What we sent to Ms. Edman about 109 Bank Avenue follows:

109 Bank Avenue – Google Maps

Riverton’s 124 page 1999 National Register of Historic Places Registration Form has a few references to 109 Bank Avenue. Excerpts appear below.

PAGE 7: …Where the original houses had been of frame, denoting their role as summer “cottages”, the later river front houses were more frequently of stone… The gray stone Gothic house built for William M. and Rebecca Lippincott Thomas at 109 Bank Avenue, in 1865… differ from their older cousins on the river bank in the permanence of their building materials both because their more imposing dimensions were enhanced by their stone construction and because several of them were intended to be used as year-round residences.

PAGE 17: …Gothic Revival influences would recur in Riverton as they did nationally through to the close of the century. …the 1865 William Thomas House at 109 Bank Avenue) incorporated gothic lines and motifs…

PAGE 60:
4 Thomas Avenue
Date: c. 1910 Contributing
Ownership: V. Gilbert and Ann K. Ruff Block/Lot: 204-13
Description: 1/2 story cottage
History: A very small residence, once a part of the Thomas / Fitter estate (109 Bank Avenue).
Property includes a swimming pool built c. 1920, the first one in Riverton. It was constructed by a local carpenter, following the directions of the owner, N. Myers Filler – and cost $50.00. The pool is still in use by the present owners. Mrs. Ruff is well-known for teaching children to swim here, as well as her work with blind and other handicapped children. (NOTE: The cottage described is gone now – replaced by new construction. Anne Knight Ruff passed away in 2013. See more about the pool at 109 in this earlier post from 2015, Hot enough for ya?)

PAGE 64:
109 Bank Avenue
Date: c. 1865 Contributing
Ownership: Robert & Barbara Horner Block/Lot 204-4
Description: 2 1/2 story stone, gable front mansion, asphalt shingle roof, paneled rake boards and bracketed fly rafter, stone chimneys left and right, paired dormers with exposed rafter tails and fly rafter brackets. 1/1 replacement sash, porch removed, entrance door altered. Left side porte cochere on paired doric columns, partially glass enclosed. Right side 2 story octagonal bay.
History: Residence of William S. and Rebecca Thomas, built soon after the land was devised to Rebecca from her father, Joseph Lippincott, and fifteen years before the Thomas farm was opened for development. The homestead area extended to Second Street. Dated photographs show at least three different front porches on this house during Thomas ownership. Purchased in 1905 by N. Myers Fitler, who a year later added a porte cochere and made other changes to the residence by architects Hewitt and Hewitt. Mrs. Fitler, grandaughter of Riverton founder Robert Biddle, was author of four books depicting life in Riverton between 1884 and the early 1900’s. Some estate buildings are now separate properties, including the large barn/stables at Thomas and Carriage House Lane.

Sale Adv for Greystone Bank Ave house 1927

Fellow HSR Board Member Roger Prichard sends along this 1927 real estate ad and adds:

…this is where our dear Mary Biddle Fitler raised her kids.  She grew up across Thomas Ave. at 201 Bank, married N. Myers Fitler and they moved into 109.  (They had already moved to Wynnewood when she wrote the books, though, I think.)… I attached an ad from when it was for sale in 1927…  Porch was full width at that time. …this house is where Oliver G. Willits and his wife Margaret Fitler moved… They bought it from N. Myers Fitler, her brother, in the early 20s.  They were still here in 1930, so apparently the ad for sale never resulted in a transaction.  They were still there in the 1930 Census.

I thanked Rosalind saying, “It was my pleasure to find the house info for you. Receiving your first-person recollection of what it was like to live in that marvelous home when you did was a bonus.”

Readers, please know that our page entitled, “Research Your House” suggests a number of starting points for finding out about homes in the Historic District, including Riverton’s 1999 National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.

Please contact us if you can contribute commentary, photos, artifacts documents, or scans to this growing archive of information about our favorite hometown.      -JMc