New Draft Preservation Ordinance made public

The new ordinance to block teardowns of historic structures – with changes by Borough Solicitor Tom Coleman after the First Reading meeting at Council – went up on the Borough’s website this afternoon, so it’s now public:

This is the wording that will be up for a final vote Wednesday October 11, 2023 in the Riverton School gym at 6:00 pm.

Riverton Borough Council takes a big step toward preservation!

Riverton moves decisively to preserve our Historic Sites and District.

Last night’s Council meeting in Riverton was a gratifying example of a town’s people all working together as colleagues toward a common goal: stopping teardowns.

Council voted unanimously to introduce a strong new ordinance and move on quickly to Second Reading and a vote.

That vote will take place in a full public hearing in the Riverton School gym on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 at 6:00 pm (note early time). Please come!

A complete copy of the ordinance should be forthcoming from the Borough Solicitor for release to the public in the next day or so and we will post it here for everyone to read closely.

This new ordinance is based on one of the ordinances from the towns that were specifically mentioned by the Judge at Superior Court when she threw out Riverton’s old ordinance on January 25, 2023. It was modified somewhat for Riverton’s own needs.

Its tough language also parallels ordinances from other beautiful, historic towns in New Jersey who protect their historic charm from teardowns.

402 Midway, the Richardson home, in happier times.

This ordinance was adapted by the ad hoc citizens’ “Historic Preservation Roundtable” that was convened by the HSR after a developer’s lawsuit prompted Superior Court to throw out our old ordinance last January. Pursuant to State law, it will create a Historic Preservation Commission in parallel with the Planning Board.

Simply put, Riverton’s will require review of all demolitions in the Historic District, specifying that a home can only be destroyed if it can be proven that there is no choice available to the owner other than demolition.

Other changes to exterior appearance will continue to be addressed in non-binding advisory services, just as they have for many years with the Architectural Review Committee (whose duties will now be folded into the new HPC).

There continues to be no regulation of paint colors or interiors.

Last night, the Mayor and all Councilmembers spoke strongly in favor of this new ordinance and were deeply appreciative of the volunteer work the Roundtable has put into its creation. The vote to approve introduction was unanimous.

Proudly and unmistakably telling the world that you are crossing the border into a very special place.

It was very gratifying to see an overflow crowd in Borough Hall, with many more attending via Zoom. During the public comment period, there was not a single comment in opposition and many urged moving as quickly as possible, as the Judge’s decision has left our beautiful historic homes defenseless.

The recent demolitions have deeply shaken many of us who love Historic Riverton.

There is good reason to hope that our town will soon have the tools to keep Historic Riverton looking like Historic Riverton for generations to come.

Thanks to everyone’s vocal support for preservation! Persistence pays off.

The Historical Society of Riverton is a 501(c)3 charitable educational organization founded in 1970 to bring together people interested in history, especially the history of the Borough of Riverton, New Jersey.

It’s easy to join us. Dues are very affordable and an active membership amplifies our voice in the community. Larger donations leverage strong volunteerism to make many of our more significant educational and outreach efforts happen. Please click here to help!

Tell us what you like and what you’d like to see more of. Please leave comments below.

Thank you and please spread the word about Historic Riverton, Everyone’s Home Town!

A Heartbreaking Loss on Midway – but now an opportunity to fight back hard!

Another loss. Come to Tuesday night’s hearing to support a new ordinance that is ready to go!

On Thursday September 14, 2023, wrecking equipment destroyed in less than a day a charming little home which had stood at 402 Midway for over a century.

Didn’t matter that it was in perfectly marketable condition.

Didn’t matter that it had fine American chestnut woodwork that had never been painted.

All that mattered was that a developer could make a buck by destroying the home and the mature trees, and then subdividing and building three houses on the site.

He could do that because this year he went to court and destroyed Riverton’s Historic Preservation ordinance (and then proceeded to destroy the Groves Mansion on Lippincott Avenue.)

It now looks like Riverton is poised to take strong action against future teardowns – and you can help. There is a new draft ordinance going to Borough Council this Tuesday that promises to give us a solid demolition ordinance every bit as good as the ones that defend other beautiful, historic towns in New Jersey from destruction.

It will be introduced for “first reading” THIS TUESDAY 9/19/2023 at 7:00 PM at Borough Hall.

This ordinance is intended to fully support the “Concept Document” produced by the ad hoc citizens’ “Preservation Roundtable” group this summer. Read that “Concept Document” here.

Council voted to support that document at their meeting in August. That document also explains who the Roundtable are and how Riverton lost the historic protections we’ve thought we had for 25 years.

We believe the Mayor and Council will be on board. Come support them in person (get there early) or attend via Zoom at

Now – It’s always frustrating that legislative procedures don’t permit Borough Hall to release working drafts like this to the public pre-introduction. But after Tuesday night, assuming they agree to introduce it, we will make sure everyone can read the proposal for themselves here at HSR – and we encourage everyone to read it, support it, talk it up!

If accepted on Tuesday, we understand that the Mayor and Council plan to schedule a special public meeting in the gym at Riverton School on Wednesday October 11, 2023 at 6:00 pm. (Note the early time.) Public comments will be encouraged and we hope all of our supporters of preserving of Riverton’s history will speak in support of Council’s ordinance.

Please support the future of Riverton’s past!

Four Churches Tour this Wednesday!

Meet at the Parish Hall of Christ Church, 4th and Howard Streets, at 6:00 pm, this Wednesday, September 13, 2023.

Christ Church ca. 1910

Starts with an overview of the histories of Riverton’s churches, and then it’s an easy walk to each of them.

Mt. Zion AME Church ca. 1939

All have beautiful interiors and will be open, with a docent to tell us more. All will be open until 8:30 pm.

Calvary Presbyterian ca. 1910

Family friendly! Free admission, donations to the churches and HSR encouraged.

Sacred Heart Church ca. 1910

We hope you can join us!

All three Riverton restaurants … Early Bird, Juanita’s, and Milanese … will be open for an early dinner before the event. The new home décor shop Home Off Main will also be open at 523 Howard Street.

A joint project of Historical Society of Riverton and the Economic Development Committee of the Riverton Borough Council

Save the date – 4 Historic Churches Wed. Sept. 13th, 2023 6:00 to 8:30 pm

From 6:00 to 7:00 pm an historic overview of the 4 churches will be held at Christ Church Parish Hall, 4th and Howard Streets)

7:00-8:30 all churches will be open for on-site informational visits

Family friendly! Free admission, donations to the churches and HSR encouraged.

Want more information? Just email

All three Riverton restaurants … Early Bird, Juanita’s, and Milanese … will be open for an early dinner before the event. The new home décor shop Home Off Main will also be open at 523 Howard Street.

A joint project of Historical Society of Riverton and the Economic Development Committee of the Riverton Borough Council

John McCormick’s Retirement

Hi everyone –

Mike Solin here. It’s hard to believe this is actually the first time I’ve posted! If you’ve been reading this website for a while, you might have caught mention of me throughout the years. Though Mr. McCormick has been posting this entire time, I’ve handled the technical aspects – silently keeping things running in the background, but also, doing my best to implement any site improvements that Mr. McC has requested.

I want to direct your attention to the latest edition of the Gaslight News, which Mr. McC published at the end of June. Amongst other items, it contains a farewell from outgoing HSR President Bill Brown, a recap of the HSR Awards Night, and an article about Ada E. Price coauthored by Patricia Smith Solin (my Mom!).

With so much packed into a single issue, you could be forgiven for not scrolling towards the end. However, you’d miss Mr. McC’s announcement that he’s retiring from the Historical Society of Riverton as of July 1st, 2023. His bio now reads:

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

I’ve been very, very lucky to have such a partnership with Mr. McCormick. At Riverton Public School, he was my 5th grade teacher, tag teaming with Mrs. Dechnik. Between the two of them, they covered nearly every subject. During my 7th and 8th grade years, Mr. McC moved up to the third floor, and taught History. Mr. McCormick helped me develop an appreciation for both science and history, and Mrs. McCormick fostered my love for technology in the computer lab.

Years later, in spring 2010, both HSR President Gerald Weaber and Gaslight News editor Mr. McC reached out to my Mom for help with a revamp of the website. Having already built the first website for Riverton Public School, she had recently rebuilt the Riverton Free Library’s website, and they were seeking her experience. Here’s a fun email from that era:

From: John McCormick
Date: Mon, May 17, 2010 at 11:24 AM
To: Pat Solin

Hi, Pat

I hand delivered most of the Gaslight News issues myself. I’m glad that I won’t have to think about that again until August. Gerald has been so busy with his new job that I seldom see him. I jogged his memory about the website last night when I emailed him asking if he’d be able to post the pdf file of the most recent issue. I was just perusing the HSR website and thinking what a huge undertaking it will be to re-do that job. I am available whenever things quiet down for you. Say when, and I will come with mass quantities of files.


“Huge undertaking,” eh? He wasn’t kidding.

Months later, on the Fourth of July, Mr. McC stopped by my parents’ house to discuss the website redesign project. Realizing the complexity of the website that the Historical Society required, I volunteered to build something brand new with WordPress, a free and open source publishing tool. We spent months on the first iteration – uploading old Gaslight News back issues, building photo galleries, and more. By January, we’d have a fully redesigned website. In February 2011, we held a meeting to discuss the new website at the Riverton Public School library.

In addition to the many functional improvements associated with the new website, we brought the cost of running everything from $99/year (what Homestead charged) to $0/year (thanks to the continued generosity of DreamHost). At that time, we also launched our Facebook page, which has helped keep us connected with the community at large.

Of course, Mr. McC hasn’t been “sitting around, eating bonbons” (as he’d put it) since this website launched in 2011. Besides writing 587 posts, he’s also produced numerous editions of the Gaslight News, scanned too many postcards and photos to count, designed and printed custom mugs, and so much more to support Riverton history.

I’m immensely proud to have worked with Mr. McCormick on this “huge undertaking” for the past 13 years. Please join me in expressing appreciation for all that he’s done for the Historical Society of Riverton for nearly two decades!

Beer me!

I knew I had written about the possibility of a brewery opening up in our dry town before, but it just hits me that it was in early 2018.

A June 20 Facebook post by Brewery Thirty-Three promises that it “…will open very soon!” The waiting is the worst part.

Students of local history will recall that the clause forbidding the sale of liquor in Riverton was baked into the deeds of property owners from the beginning.

Even before the time of Riverton’s founding, alcohol began to be widely perceived as a Maybe we need to combine the two with a  serious threat to social order. The temperance movement was in full swing, and the largely Quaker makeup of the Philadelphia merchants who founded Riverton chose to build their village on temperance principles.

This excerpt from “Early Days In Riverton”, an article in The New Era, Christmas Number Nineteen-Nine, explains how it came to be:

The Riverton Improvement Company was created a corporation by the State of New Jersey and approved March 12, 1852. On August 23. of that year, Daniel L. Miller conveyed Riverton to the Riverton Improvement Company by a deed, in which there appeared a “liquor clause,” which read as follows: “Shall not at any time hereafter manufacture or cause to be manufactured, sell or cause, or knowingly permit to be sold, directly or indirectly, in or upon the premises hereby conveyed, or any part thereof, any spiritous, vinous, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors, except as a medicine, or for medical purposes in cases of sickness.” The properties were then deeded back to their several owners. 

The exclusion worked for over 160 years.

It is possible for a dry town to have a winery or brewery that offers tastings since alcohol manufacturing licenses in New Jersey are issued by the state and are not regulated by municipalities.

The workaround came in December 2017 when Borough Council adopted an ordinance allowing a “limited brewery” as an acceptable use in the borough’s business district.

A “mere” five years later, construction crews commenced renovating a 4000 sq. ft. five-bay industrial building on South Broad behind the Light Rail station into a modern craft brewery and taproom called Brewery Thirty-Three.

To paraphrase an old saying, ” The wheels of progress grind slowly.”

Even so, the day seems to be around the corner when a Riverton resident will be able to walk or drive over to 601 Lippincott Avenue and quaff a pint of craft beer.

We’re jealous. Brewery Thirty-Three’s Facebook page already has more likes and followers than we do after twelve years, and they haven’t even opened yet!

If only preserving history was as urgent as the quest for local stout. Maybe we just need to combine the two.

Here is a link to the 2018 article. -JMc, Ed.

Well, ya got trouble, my friend, …right here in River City*


12th Annual Historic Riverton Criterium, Sunday June 11th!

Carlos Rogers captured the interest of the Historical Society of Riverton in 2011 when he christened his inaugural bicycling competition, the Historic Riverton Criterium. The 12th Annual HRC returns Sunday, June 11.

From the HRC website, Since 2011, the Historic Riverton Criterium has been committed to promoting a premier cycling event while supporting Riverton and its surrounding communities by making financial contributions to various organizations and individual causes. To date, the HRC has awarded over $40,000. The HRC is a NJ nonprofit 501(c)3.

We have been fans ever since. Here is a Greatest Hits list of posts published here about this wonderful event.

Bicycle Races – Past, Present, and Hopefully, Future

Anticipation Builds Toward Return of Historic Riverton Criterium Sunday, June 10, 2012

It’s win-win-win as the HRC brings family-fun, prizes for athletes, and aids the RFCo.

Historic Riverton Criterium enters pages of Riverton history

In its third year, the Historic Riverton Criterium is now an official Riverton tradition

Carlos Rogers made Riverton history again June 8, 2014

Many hands contribute to the success of the fifth Historic Riverton Criterium

Gear up, Rivertonians. The Great Riverton Cycling Weekend looms

19th century style Girl Power

The HSR sends a heartfelt Thank-You to Carlos Rogers

June Bicycle Weekend Update

Bicycles Then & Now Program traces bicycle history and heralds June Bicycle Weekend

Historical markers help preserve Riverton’s unique heritage

The 9th Annual HRC is just a month away

9th Annual HRCriterium needs race marshals next Sunday

Speaking of women cyclists…

Historic Riverton Criterium includes women’s races

Click to access 180_Gaslight_News_May_2019.pdf

Historic Riverton Criterium needs sponsors’ financial support

Click to access 181-Gaslight-News-Oct-19-rev.pub_.pdf

No tricks; the treats are on us

The HRC returns – is it a sporting match or a philanthropic endeavor? Emphatically YES!

Keep up with the latest developments on the HRC Facebook page. -JMc










Memorial Day ceremony – Sunday, May 28, 2023, 10:00 AM

Riverton War Memorial 5-12-2023

There will be a Memorial Day ceremony at the Riverton War Memorial, Broad & Main Sts. on Sunday, May 28, 2023, at 10:00 AM, honoring those who lost their lives while serving their country. The Veterans and Auxiliary Supporters from Riverside’s VFW Post 3020 will carry out Honor Guard duties as they have done many times before.

Courier-Post, 04 Jul 1994, p40

The Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee is pleased to add the name of Larry N. VanHoy, a Riverton resident who served as a member of the US Air Force, to the Honor Roll.

The War Memorial sports a new Riverton sign provided by the Riverton Fire Department. The Riverton Improvement Association purchased and planted the flowers at the Memorial and in front of the businesses at Broad & Main Sts. Public Works Manager Keith Adams and his crew delivered the mulch and cleaned up afterward.

Riverton’s War Memorial c.1946

Built in 1945/46 to commemorate Riverton’s service men and women who served in World War Two, the monument now serves to honor any present or former resident of the Borough who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States of America during a time of war.

Located in the heart of the Borough, the well-maintained monument serves as a sobering reminder that the sacrifice of generations of veterans secured the freedom and way of life we enjoy today.

The complete list of veterans’ names appears in this Word document. Riverton War Memorial Veterans’ Names.

For more information about how to add a name of an eligible veteran to the Honor Roll, click here.

Garden Tour May 19/20


What: Garden Tour 2023
When: Friday, May 19, 2023, from 3 to 8 PM and Saturday, May 20, 2023, from 10 AM to 4 PM
Where: THE PORCH CLUB, Fourth & Howard Streets, Riverton, NJ 08077 and gardens in Riverton, Palmyra, and Cinnaminson, NJ
How Much: $20, Tour only; $30, Tour plus lunch SOLD OUT

This year’s tour will include nine beautiful private gardens in Riverton, Palmyra, and Cinnaminson in all their late-spring glory. The gardens are all new, none repeated from the previous tour. Come to the Porch Club for lunch on Saturday from 11 AM to 2 PM. LUNCH IS SOLD OUT.

Also included are vendors of garden-related items, displays by local environmental organizations, raffle baskets, plant and book sales, and a boutique of garden items for sale. The Porch Club is a registered 501(c)3 organization, and all proceeds help support their charitable initiatives and clubhouse.

A quilt, done by The Porch Club’s Stitchery Committee as a group project, will be raffled off at the end of the day on Saturday, along with two other baskets of garden and picnic items. Raffle tickets are available at The Porch Club.

OK, our PSA is over. Now, you know that we have to sneak in a bit of history.

Courier-Post, 11 May 1992, p37

Porch Club member Pat Brunker informs us that folks have been saving the dates for the Porch Club’s bi-annual Garden Tour since at least the 1980s. However, a search of area newspapers and our own archive of local newspapers and the Gaslight News has yielded little except small notices on community calendar pages.

From Pat:
The first info I have is from the tour on May 6, 1982. I scanned the program; see below. Shirley Brown provided the luncheon in 1982 – she won the Betty Crocker Cook Off award in her time. I think she won a stove… It’s our big fundraiser every two years. Proceeds support our building maintenance and charitable giving. The Garden Tour was started by the Club’s Garden Department by Chairmen Toby Hunn and Louise Vaughan.

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Pat’s clues about that early Garden Tour set me off to search further. It turns out that Shirley Brown (the woman who provided the lunch in 1982) was a Porch Club president (1978), a dedicated community volunteer, and a longtime Calvary Church member.

Courier-Post, 31 Jan 1967, p15

An avid amateur cook, the mother of six was a regional finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1967. It’s not often that a Cordon Bleu-trained cook prepares your lunch.

In 1991, she was honored at a dinner for 20-year volunteers of FISH, a church-affiliated group that supplied medical and emergency transportation for area elderly residents.

Do you see how the smallest thread of a recollection can unravel a trove of forgotten history?

What else can we add to this chronicle of how the Garden Tour started?