Stone Harbor cottages and bungalows – the early years

by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.

Stone Harbor: The Early Years, a 1998 publication of The Stone Harbor Archival Advisory Committee introduces the community’s beginning stages of construction thus:

But where and how did it all begin? Like any good plan, it started on paper with streets and avenues laid out in a rectangular grid pattern and the in-between spaces identified with block and lot identification numbers. …In addition to a hotel, there were only four cottages in existence as their development began. Stone Harbor today is seen just as they planned it with numbered avenues running north and south and numbered streets, east and west.

These surviving examples of early 20th-century souvenir picture postcards display many of the fine examples of Stone Harbor’s architecture as the seashore resort began its earliest stage of development.

New Stone Harbor, NJ Watch it Grow

An artist’s rendition of “New Stone Harbor” appeared on this early postcard image and it is not all that far removed from what would become a reality as Stone Harbor slowly started to evolve. Printed in Germany, it shows the planned Harbor Inn and impressive large homes and invites its recipient to receive details about the development “Without incurring any obligation.”

However, some of the structures illustrated here never actually came into existence, notably a lighthouse on the bayside, a sizable amusement pier jutting out into the ocean, as well as a large Ferris wheel also facing the ocean.

The Harbor Inn, New Stone Harbor, NJ

Stone Harbor’s first permanent structure was the Harbor Inn built in 1892 at 83rd Street facing and close to the ocean. Originally called the Hotel Abottsford Inn, new ownership renamed it Harbor Inn.

The first exterior view shows the “Harbor Inn, New Stone Harbor” with a tall water pumping windmill that also included a water tower for storing water.

Harbor Inn at Stone Harbor

The caption on the second postcard states: “Harbor Inn at Stone Harbor. This popular hostelry is run by the South Jersey Realty Company builder of Stone Harbor, and here guests of the company are entertained on the Company’s Free Inspection Trips. It is open all year.”

The Roomy Parlor of the Harbor Inn

“The Roomy Parlor” seen in this interior view of Harbor Inn features a flaring horn gramophone, numerous sitting and rocking chairs, a fireplace, floor lamps and ceiling gas lamps for lighting, and a writing desk.

The Dining Room of the Harbor Inn, Stone Harbor, NJ

“The Dining Room” shows several ceiling-hung gas lamps and numerous fully-set tables seating 4 persons, each with tablecloths ready for dining.

A cluster of seven “handsome cottages” constructed in the late 1890s between 80th and 83rd Streets formed the original resort. With the construction of roads, curbs, and sidewalks, along with water and sewer lines, and a sewage disposal system the “New Stone Harbor” started to develop in earnest.

The powerful suction dredge…

Hydraulic dredges like this created as many as seven dredged basins that enabled even more development and established prime lots for more housing.

 

Hydrangea, the beachfront villa of Vice-President Reese Risley on First Avenue is the main feature of each of the postcards below.

In the first postcard above, sewer pipes lined up along First Avenue await placement.

In the second, an enormous flag pole stands in front of the Risley beachfront villa with its wrap-around first-floor screened porch and two main sets of elevated stairways. Another tall pole verifies that street lighting and electricity were among the modern conveniences planned.

A family strolls along First Avenue in this splendid colorized third postcard view of the Risley home.

The next eight views illustrate the beginning and early stages of cottage construction.

One caption boasts, “Stone Harbor has a matchless beach front for bathing and automobiling. The strand (beach) is 270 feet between high and low water.”

One-hundred-cottage year

Stone Harbor real estate development was undergoing a building boom during its “One-hundred-cottage year.” In six months Stone Harbor had doubled in size and value.

 

View of 85th Street from the Pennsylvania Railroad Station plaza

A view of 85th Street from the Pennsylvania Railroad Station plaza shows the continued construction of many new cottages built in one year on Free Loan Lots given under the South Jersey Realty Company’s Famous Bond Plan.

The next two postcards show a more established view of the broad streets and handsome cottages built at the First Avenue and 88th Street area.

Above, another caption assures its readers, “All these cottage lots have been given Absolutely Free to purchasers of Stone Harbor Bonds.”

Jeurgens and Herbert Cottages

Three vintage automobiles flank the c1920s view of the completed Jeurgens and Herbert Cottages shown here in color. These two grand homes have become notable landmarks with their broad ascending staircases and distinctive shingle-style siding as well as wrap-around awninged porches with turrets.

Residence on First Avenue

This view of “Residence on First Avenue” exemplifies what was termed a “summer cottage” at that time. It features a dramatic elevated front stairway, a wraparound porch, wooden shingled siding, and a “widow’s walk” on the third floor.

The South Jersey Realty Company prepared advertising postcards with printed information given on the message side to promote the development.

Another residence just completed

The message side of this postcard showing a just-completed residence at New Stone Harbor located at First Avenue and 91st Street and reads:

Mr. Hall’s Residence – This house just completed at Stone Harbor, occupies 4 lots fronting on First Ave. One block from the beach. The four lots fully improved with sewers, water, cement sidewalks and curbing, on a broad Macadamized Avenue, cost the owner not one dollar. They were given to him on the offer we make to you. Sign and send this card for particulars of the free investors trip.

This Mediterranean-style home had running water, gas, and electricity. A third card shows a separate garage has been added to the property.

A glimpse of Stone Harbor from Sunset Drive

“A glimpse of Stone Harbor from Sunset Drive” declares “This drive follows the contour of Great Channel and Stone Harbor’s seven yacht basins, and passes through the Great Channel bungalow colony for over a mile.” Note a shack with two words painted in white on the roof advertising “LUNCH, ICE CREAM” in the upper quarter of this image. The Choir House in the upper left corner of this card appears in the next two postcards.

Next to the beach, Stone Harbor’s greatest charm is her Great Channel

The caption on this one reads “Next to the beach, Stone Harbor’s greatest charm is her Great Channel (Inland Waterway) and the Great Channel bungalow colony spread artistically along its banks for over a mile. The first house observed is the bungalow of the choir boys of St. Mary’s Church, Ardmore, Pa. The flying flags denote the $20,000 Stone Harbor Yacht Club.”

Choir House, Sunset Drive, Stone Harbor, NJ

“Choir House, Sunset Drive, Stone Harbor, N. J.” captures a close-up view in full color of this classic Dutch Colonial house, which was one of the earliest houses built on the Great Channel.

 

 

The following seven postcards showcase more homes built during the early years.

Ross’ Double Front Bungalow

This c1914 image depicts Mr. Ernest N. Ross’ cozy little double front bungalow on the State Island Waterway or the Great Channel between South Basin and Snug Harbor and facing Sunset Drive near 89th Street. This house was built in 1909.

Home of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Brown

Next is the “Home of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Brown,” a classic bungalow featuring a large overhanging gabled roof, wood siding in two different colors, and a small porch on the front dormer with a screened-in porch below.

The next five fine homes built along First Avenue faced the ocean.

First Avenue looking south

First looking south and then views looking northward, the cottage in the foreground was located at First Avenue and 90th Street and belonged to G. Franklin Davis of Philadelphia. The description on the back of one of these cards states: “All lots sold under Company’s guarantee of full street improvements including granolithic sidewalks, cement curb, graveled streets, with sewer and water pipes laid in front of each lot free of charge to the purchaser.” Street lighting, as well as electricity, served these fine homes. Research indicates that by 1913 almost 100 new homes were constructed under the free lot bond plan mentioned earlier.

As we continue southward on First Avenue these next three scenes show more building with the addition of the large double-peaked or gabled home built by Philadelphia attorney Charles A. Farnum. Note in two of these images the previously mentioned and distinctive Mediterranean style residence of Mr. Hall.

First Avenue, Stone Harbor, NJ

Finally, another three-story home is shown with a colonnade with four large columns supporting a third-story porch with several windows overlooking the ocean. An awninged enclosed porch graces the side of this grand home.

 

 

Bittner’s residence on First Avenue, Stone Harbor, NJ

The Bittner family residence located at the corner of First Avenue and 88th Street is in this case a charming example of a modified Dutch Colonial consisting of a pair of prominent gables and an expansive wraparound porch with awnings.

Residence and garage of John Kienzle, Stone Harbor, NJ

Next is the residence and two-car garage of John Kienzle located at 88th and Second Avenue. Mr. Kienzle was the director of the Stone Harbor Terminal Railroad and the First National Bank of Stone Harbor.

Bunting and Bunting, Real Estate Office, Stone Harbor, NJ

This large house with additions also served as the Bunting and Bunting Real Estate Office situated on 96th Street. , One of the most highly visible features of Stone Harbor, an early water tower stands behind the truck parked in front of the building. The large display sign directly behind the parked truck says “Want a House?”

The Seng beach house, Stone Harbor, NJ

Originally built by the Horace Campbells, this was the beach house of the well-known Seng family. Eugene Seng served as a councilman as well as the mayor of Stone Harbor during the 1920s.

The Home by- the-Sea, First Avenue, Stone Harbor, NJ

“The Home by The-Sea, First Avenue” features what would become one of the most popular types of houses built in Stone Harbor, namely a Dutch Colonial style with an enclosed porch.

 

twin bungalow, Stone Harbor, NJ

This twin bungalow was called the “Lohengrin” and “Parsifal” model. Today we might refer to this as a “double” that housed two families under one roof. The building has a long open porch with two separate stairways and entrances for access and two chimneys, one located at each side. Offered by N. M. Rennyson of Norristown, Pa., this type house was advertised as having: “Seven rooms and bath, all modern conveniences, terms reasonable, central location to Yacht Club, Railroad Stations, across street from Snug Harbor Basin.”

Dorr E. Newton’s cottage, Stone Harbor, NJ

The caption on the message side of this next postcard states: “Mr. Dorr E. Newton’s new cottage on Ninety-fifth street, near Sunset Drive, Stone Harbor, N. J. A very popular type of cottage at ‘The Wonder City by the Sea’.”

N.B.T. Roney’s Bungalow, Stone Harbor, NJ

Camden lawyer Newton B. T. Roney originally owned this California-style shingled bungalow located at the Stone Harbor Yacht Basin at the 104th Street bridge.

 

David Risley’s bungalow, Stone Harbor, NJ

One of Stone Harbor’s founding brothers, David Risley who served as secretary and treasurer of the South Jersey Realty Company, owned this Channel Bungalow. This beautiful house enjoyed a prime location overlooking both the Great Channel and the Snug Harbor Yacht Basin at 92nd Street across from the Yacht Club.

General View of Stone Harbor, NJ

This “General View of Stone Harbor, N.J.” clearly shows how more homes are being built in this growing seashore resort. The prominent water tower appears again in the background.

 

 

In the beginning, the Risley brothers catered mainly to the well-heeled and wealthy clients of Philadelphia who could afford to build large and expensive homes. Astute businessmen, the Risley Brothers soon recognized a need for a more modest form of housing and by 1914 this new business concept led to what became known as the Bungalow Colony, consisting of small bungalows on small lots arranged on two narrow alleyway or “court” streets.

These two courts were located at the southern end of the town between 108th Street and 111th Street and were named Bower and Weber Courts. Shortly thereafter and due to their immense popularity and affordability, a third alleyway of bungalows was created bearing the name Stone Court.

Built during 1914-1915, South Jersey Realty Company auctioned off these relatively basic 12-by-24-foot bungalows in 1917. A religious organization known as the Stonemen’s Fellowship purchased all of these cottages and decided to offer them for rent to like-minded individuals by forming the Stonemen’s Vacation Club. Was this arrangement a precursor to today’s time-share programs?

These fully furnished cottages rented for $4 to $8 weekly during the summer months or for 50 cents nightly. By 1920, these bungalows were selling for around $300 each. The Great Depression of the 1930s hit real estate very hard causing the Borough of Stone Harbor to foreclose on these properties.

Still standing today, most of these little houses have undergone significant second-story add-ons along with new porches and decks as well as other major improvements and renovations. Many of the bungalows have also been winterized for year-round use. As one source aptly put it “…the quaint charm and timeless appeal of the humble cottages of the Bungalow Colony have helped to define and even reflect the history of the seashore resort known as Stone Harbor.”

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These eleven chronologically arranged postcards show various views of Stone Harbor’s unique residential Bungalow Colony.

Stone Harbor offered many different types of houses during the development’s early years. Did you see a house that you know in this article?

Please help find the owner

Bicycle Century Run under auspices of Riverton Athletic Assn. Camden to Atlantic City via Gloucester – Gloucester-Woodbury Turnpike, Westville Toll Gate – Sept. 8, 1894

I publish this urgent plea to the Universe in the hope that the person who won the eBay auction in 2010 for this incredible photograph of cyclists participating in the Bicycle Century Run organized by the Riverton Athletic Association in 1894 will see this request and send us a high-resolution scan for our files.

While helping to promote the return of the Historic Riverton Criterium on FaceBook recently, I posted the Century Run photo. I explained to a couple of readers who asked about it that it was a screen capture I had made from eBay in 2010. I lost out on the auction to a higher bidder and this fuzzy low-resolution image was all I could get.

Some readers may not realize that of the thousands of images displayed on our website, the Historical Society of Riverton owns only a small fraction of them. Most came from the collections of generous people who either provided scans or lent the items so we could scan them.

See our December 2018 post, “And the Universe answers… again for a list of other times that The Law of Attraction has turned up some amazing images of old Riverton that we had all but given up on finding.

Somebody out there knows where this original photo is. Please help get this message to them.

Going to Stone Harbor by rail in the early 1900s

by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.

Stone Harbor Railroad, Stone Harbor, N.J.

Never-before-published photographs and several vintage postcard images will explain how early rail travel played a vital role in the early development of Stone Harbor, New Jersey.

The oft-quoted phrase “If you build it, they will come” is certainly reminiscent of the dream of the Risely Brothers to market and promote the building of a charming new resort town in South Jersey. They did build a railroad and people absolutely came to Stone Harbor as a result.

South Jersey Realty Company advertising reply postcard showing artist’s rendering of an aerial view of Stone Harbor Ocean Parkway with the mainland on the left and Stone Harbor and the ocean on the right connected by a vehicular causeway

With the rise of automobile ownership, one of the key factors in Stone Harbor’s early development was the construction and 1911 opening of the 3-1/2 mile Ocean Parkway (now known as Stone Harbor Boulevard) linking Cape May Court House and the mainland with the Seven Mile Island communities of Stone Harbor and Avalon.

Our story begins with the adoption of steam locomotive rail travel by day-trippers, or so-called “shoebies,” who often traveled “down the shore” by train from places like Philadelphia and Camden just for the day with their lunches packed in shoeboxes.

In this first of two main parts, a group of photos will illustrate various modes of rail transportation that once served Stone Harbor; in the second part, postcard images will depict aspects of rail travel to and from Stone Harbor from around 1911 and well into the 1920s.

PART I

Train departing Stone Harbor, 1934

A Pennsylvania Railroad train departs Stone Harbor at the Scotch Bonnet Creek trestle in 1934. The first inlet single-span drawbridge is in an elevated or raised position in the background. This road connected Stone Harbor with Cape May Court House and other mainland points.

96th Street & Second Avenue, Stone Harbor, 1925

In all likelihood, this camelback locomotive and 3-passenger car train were taking on passengers and preparing for departure to South Jersey points on its way to Camden/Philadelphia at the end of another glorious day of summer fun on the beach in 1925. Numerous vintage automobiles are parked along the main street and at times it was common to see 96th Street blocked by a waiting train with the engine and several passenger cars lined up along Second Avenue.

040 Cummings gas-electric engine pulls three passenger cars, c1920s

The somewhat unique and very distinctive 040 Cummings gas-electric engine pulls three passenger cars at Stone Harbor sometime in the 1920s. This particular engine was a real work-horse and could pull three loaded freight or passenger cars at around 10 miles per hour along the main boulevard.

left, Stone Harbor Railroad Doodlebug Type 76, 1929

The Stone Harbor Railroad Doodlebug Type 76 appears on the left and another version of a gas-electric engine maneuvers a freight car on the right of this photo. Manufactured by Brill/Mack of Philadelphia, the narrow-gauge self-propelled rail car dubbed the Doodlebug was configured for both passengers and freight. Early models were powered by a gasoline engine while later models had diesel engines. The name Doodlebug was derived from the insect-like appearance of the rail cars and their slow speed as they appeared to casually doodle down the tracks.

Reading Railroad Company Gas Motor Coach No. 98, late 1920s

Two railroad workers stand next to this Reading Railroad Company Gas Motor Coach in the late 1920s.  The coaches mainly transported railway express freight and mail along with a very limited number of passengers.

Dilapidated Stone Harbor Railroad Turntable, 1933

The Stone Harbor Railroad Turntable is in a dilapidated and unusable condition in this 1933 photo. Located just south of 111th Street, this little-known turn-around was an important railway apparatus that made the return journey entirely possible.

Stone Harbor Railroad Rail Bus, no langer in service, 1933

This very dismantled Stone Harbor Railroad Rail Bus is jacked-up, parked, and no longer in service. Steel wheels and various other parts are in disarray amid the deteriorating and rusting carriage hulk.

Stone Harbor Railroad Rail Car, 1933

A Stone Harbor Railroad Rail Car overgrown with trees and vegetation in 1933 serves as a sad reminder of the glory days of this type of passenger service.

Stone Harbor Railroad Rail Bus #100, 1932

This out-of-service Stone Harbor Railroad Rail Bus epitomizes the effect that the advent of the automobile and new highway construction had on the discontinuance of railroad service at Stone Harbor.

 

 

PART II

The following vintage postcards show Stone Harbor scenes associated with types of railway equipment, trains, and stations. Together they trace a traveler’s journey from the mainland onto the island and terminating at Stone Harbor. So sit back and follow along as we travel back more than a century for our virtual vacation at Stone Harbor.

The Gateway to Cape May County, N.J.

The caption accompanying this postcard states, “Over these slender steel threads a million people visited the several resorts of South Jersey last season.” This postally used card bears a Stone Harbor postmark dated SEP. 11, 1911.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 02 Jan 1910, Page 14

A January 2, 1910 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer described the dredging operation that would carve out the yacht basin and use fill to form “…one of the finest ocean boulevards along the eastern coast” and a planned “…high speed interurban trolley road.”

Artist’s rendering, proposed Stone Harbor Ocean Parkway

This artist’s rendering shows the many modes of transportation for the proposed Stone Harbor Ocean Parkway.  On the far right, a Stone Harbor Terminal Railroad Company electric trolley heads into Stone Harbor while another returns to the mainland via Cape May Court House.

Beginning in 1912, the Reading Railroad instituted regularly scheduled trolley service and located a depot at 96th Street and Second Avenue in Stone Harbor. The Pennsylvania Railroad also used these tracks to convey passengers from further distances. The caption appearing in the lower portion of this postcard reads:

“The Stone Harbor Ocean Parkway, a complete Turnpike, Trolley and Canal System, connecting Stone Harbor and Cape May Court House, now under construction and to be opened next Spring.” This card did not receive postal treatment and thus bears no dated postmark.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 Mar 1910, Page 3

The South Jersey Realty Company’s full-page ad in the March 20, 1910 Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed “We are building a railroad, turnpike, and canal from Stone Harbor to Cape May Court House” and used the same artist’s rendering to promote the planned development.

The Great Channel Bridge, Stone Harbor, N.J.

In this color view of “The Great Channel Bridge” approaching Stone Harbor an omnibus pulls a trolley car similar to the ones shown on the previous postcard. They have just crossed over the drawbridge and are about to enter the town of Stone Harbor. This postcard was placed in the mailstream and bears a wavy flag postmark dated JUL 24, 1931.

The Reading Railroad Bridge, Stone Harbor, N.J.

“The Reading Railroad Bridge” was the first 96th street bridge. The raised road deck allowed a large boat barely visible in this photo to pass through. A line of vintage automobiles waits for the lowering of this draw bridge. The Honorable Woodrow Wilson, then Governor of New Jersey, officially dedicated and opened to the public this bridge on July 3, 1911. This mailed postcard was postmarked JUN 11, 1928.

Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 Jun 1911, Page 53

Another full-page ad in The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 25, 1911, by the South Jersey Realty Company described the venture that had in three years “…transformed Stone Harbor from a waste of sand hills and salt meadows into a modern seaside resort with artesian waterworks, sanitary sewerage system, electric light plant, and miles of graded and graveled streets, with cement sidewalks and curbs.” Imagine getting in on the ground floor of that development!

The New Era, Aug 2, 1912, p1

Even Riverton’s own hometown newspaper ran a South Jersey Realty advertisement in 1912 that advised its readers, “Fortune awaits you at Stone Harbor.”

S.H.T.R.R., or Stone Harbor Terminal Railway

The steam locomotive pulling three passenger cars just crossed over the Scotch Bonnet Creek drawbridge and heads into town on the Stone Harbor Terminal Railway. A closer look also confirms that the trestle proved popular among people for fishing and crabbing.

Courier-Post, 28 May 1910, Page 9

The caption on the reverse side of this divided-back postcard states the following: “The Stone Harbor Terminal Railroad connecting at Cape May Court House with the Reading (Atlantic City R.R.) reduced the running time from Phila. to 90 minutes and gave Stone Harbor two railroads in its very infancy.” Imagine that – Philly to Stone Harbor in just 90 minutes! Remarkable, to say the least! This card has a nicely struck circular date-stamp postmark with four killer-bars applied at Stone Harbor and bears the date JUN 25, 1917.

Boulevard Approach to Stone Harbor, N.J.

This is the “Boulevard Approach” one would see and use to enter the borough of Stone Harbor. Railroad tracks and the overhead electric wires to the left of this roadway and bridge lead across the inlet into town. This piece was not postally used.

Entrance to Bridge, Stone Harbor, N.J.

Like the previous image showing the draw bridge, this rare postcard of the “Entrance to Bridge,”  illustrates one’s vantage point departing Stone Harbor and heading west to the mainland. Note the set of railroad tracks and overhead electric trolley wires along the right-hand portion of this scene. This mailed postcard sports a Stone Harbor postmark dated AUG 3, 1920.

96th Street and Back Bay, Stone Harbor, N.J.

Probably photographed from the roof of the old Shelter Haven Hotel, this aerial view of “96th Street and Back Bay” looks back to the west and the mainland as well as the approach to Stone Harbor. Two sets of railroad tracks run along the right side of this main street called 96th Street. This postcard was postmarked on AUG 15, 1928.

General View at 96th St. and 3rd Avenue, Stone Harbor, N.J.

Presumably shot again from the roof of the Shelter Haven Hotel, this scene of the main intersection upon entering Stone Harbor shows how little development there was in the downtown business section at the time this photo was taken.

In the lower right-hand portion, railroad tracks carried trains just one more block eastward to Second Avenue where the train depot was located. The Atlantic Ocean looms on the far horizon. This century-old postcard also depicts a landmark that still exists today; the large 3-story building on the far left houses the famous Springer’s Ice Cream store. This postcard was not mailed.

96th Street, Stone Harbor, N.J.

Troxel’s, a well-known ice cream and variety store, appears in the left foreground of this view looking west on 96th Street. Several loaded railroad flatcars are parked to the right along the main street.

Entrance to Boulevard, 96th St., Stone Harbor, N.J.

Railroad tracks conspicuously run along the street to the far left of this view of the center of the developing 96th Street shopping district c1920s. The automobile in the center of the street is driving east toward the waterworks (see the water tower in the distance) and the ocean that is only 3 blocks away.

96th Street, Stone Harbor, N.J.

A Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive is blocking the main thoroughfare as it crosses Second Avenue in this view looking east on 96th Street. The town water tower rises above the houses on the right.

The railroad’s use of Second Avenue along the entire length of Seven Mile Island through Avalon from Townsend’s Inlet and Sea Isle City northward was short-lived as one can readily understand. There were problems not only associated with the danger to pedestrians, vehicles, and property, not to mention the black smoke and soot along with the disruptive noise of the engines that over time contributed to bringing about the demise of this rail service to Stone Harbor. This unusual postcard was postmarked AUG 1929.

96th and 2nd Avenue, Stone Harbor, N.J.

We are now looking at Second Avenue where the railroad train tracks travel northward to the end of Seven Mile Island. The waterworks including the water pumping station that was built in 1924 and the water tower along with Diller’s Department Store are all visible here. A single set of train tracks remains in this undated photo.

96 St. Looking toward the Beach, Stone Harbor, N.J.

In this c1920 view of 96th St. looking toward the beach, we see the actual point of confluence of two different railroad companies meeting and terminating at Stone Harbor.

The Pennsylvania Railroad runs north-south along Second Avenue and that rather long multicar excursion train is stopped and blocking part of the intersection at 96th Street. Several of the smaller Stone Harbor Terminal Railroad Company’s trolleys also run on the tracks along 96th Street with service westward to Cape May Court House and connecting to the mainland and points west. This most interesting postcard was postmarked at Stone Harbor on JUL 19, 1928.

3 females at 96th St. & 2nd Avenue intersection

Three females in trendy swimming attire pose for a c1920s photo at the 96th Street and Second Avenue intersection with a steam locomotive in the background.

Stone Harbor Fire Station 96th Street and 2nd Ave, built 1924

Possibly taken at the town Fire Department Building, a penned notation on the reverse side indicates this photo was taken at “Stone Harbor” and cites the names of the persons shown as “Anita Moore, Vivian and Gerry Black.” The Fire Department Building postcard was not mailed and bears no writing or dated postmark.

R.R. Station, Stone Harbor, N.J.

This classic view of the Stone Harbor Pennsylvania Railroad Station shows an approaching train entering the picture. The train on just a single set of tracks was routed along Second Avenue and the depot shown here was located at Pennsylvania Plaza. This postally used postcard was postmarked and dated JUL 5, 1929.

Ocean Parkway dedication

A trainload of excursionists arrive at Stone Harbor. The accompanying caption states: “Great crowds arriving at Stone Harbor to witness dedication and opening of the Ocean Parkway and Catholic and Episcopal Churches by Gov. Woodrow Wilson and other dignitaries, July 2 and 3, 1911.”

Initially, in 1892, train service onto Seven Mile Beach crossed the curved trestle of Townsend’s Inlet Bridge from the north and proceeded southward along Second Avenue from Avalon to Stone Harbor. Service from Philadelphia to Stone Harbor began in 1912 crossing the length of the 96th Street wooden bridge to the station on Second Avenue. This postcard was not mailed but was produced in 1911 and continued to be available for sale for several years.

Pennsylvania Railroad Station, Stone Harbor, N.J.

This Pennsylvania Railroad Station was originally established on Second Avenue south of 85th Street. Then, some years later, it was re-located to 96th Street where it became more centrally located and convenient for travelers to access the beach and the nearby stores.

Note the two vintage automobiles parked by the station. Can a car buff help date this unmailed and undated postcard?

“Dorr E. Newton’s Cottage” at Stone Harbor reveals the passenger cars of an excursion train stopped at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station behind this home at the far lower left. The caption on the message/address side states: “Mr. Dorr E. Newton’s new cottage on Ninety-fifth street, near Sunset Drive, Stone Harbor, N.J.  A very popular type of cottage at ‘The Wonder City by the Sea’.” This divided-back postcard was mailed and bears a JUL 14, 1914 Stone Harbor postmark.

Motor Bus on Tracks, Stone Harbor, N.J.

The Stone Harbor Railroad Company utilized this type of rail motor omnibus powered by a four-cylinder, 40-horsepower gasoline engine that Brill/Mack of Philadelphia built.  This postcard was postally used and bears an AUG 1921 Stone Harbor postmark. The sender of this postcard writes on the back in pencil: “This is a picture of the trolley cars here. They run by gas.”

Motor Bus on Tracks, Stone Harbor, N.J.

This postcard shows another “Motor Bus on Tracks.” Mailed from Cape May Court House, it bears an incomplete postmark with an indecipherable date.

Stone Harbor Railroad, Stone Harbor, N.J.

This peculiar-looking piece of locomotive equipment was known as a model 040 Cummings gas-electric engine. This relatively small but mighty engine was capable of pulling up to four-passenger cars at a time. A notation penciled on the reverse side of this postcard states, “Summer 1924.”

Special Car for Stone Harbor, South Jersey Realty Co.

This special Pennsylvania Railroad passenger car postcard was used for advertising and publicity purposes. The display sign in the railway car doorway proclaims: “SPECIAL CAR FOR STONE HARBOR SOUTH JERSEY REALTY CO.”

The Morning Post, 08 Jun 1910, Page 3

The printed caption on this postcard also states: “The South Jersey Realty Company, builders of Stone Harbor, has brought thousands of visitors to this resort on Free Inspection Trips in special parlor and club cars for the purpose of selecting Free Lots, under the company’s famous Bond Plan.” This card was not postally used.

In conclusion, while it was the coming of the so-called “Iron Horse” that opened up the Jersey Shore to Philadelphians and other city dwellers, the increased affordability and popularity of the automobile during the decade of the 1920s would bring about the replacement of trains as a popular means of reaching Stone Harbor. By the 1930s, there were no longer any active railway lines serving Stone Harbor.

So there you have it. Like the 1987 John Candy movie, our Stone Harbor articles have now gone from “Planes, (to) Trains & Automobiles”!

Most of the images shown here are in addition to the ones displayed on our IMAGES/STONE HARBOR page. Judging by the dozens of visitors’ comments left there, it must be a page people land on when they search google for “Stone Harbor, NJ.”

The Historical Society of Riverton welcomes your personal stories and recollections, any first-hand accounts, photographs as well as your comments and feedback. And don’t forget to check out our Facebook page, too!

Early airmail in South Jersey: the story continues

by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.

Marshall E Reid Mail Plane on Stone Harbor beach

A Google search of “Marshall, Stone Harbor, and Early Planes” by Jeffrey Arrington of Baltimore landed him on rivertonhistory.com where he found our 2015 post, “The First Air Mail Flights in South Jersey – 1912.” This serendipitous encounter with a reader has resulted in Mr. Arrington’s sharing of some remarkable family photos that further document Stone Harbor’s short-lived foray into airmail service.

Mr. Arrington explained that he had photos connected to that 2015 story, some of them actually depicting airmail pioneer pilot Marshall E. Reid and his Wright Brothers flying machine carrying the mail at the seashore resort Stone Harbor in 1912. Jeffrey Arrington’s own words explain how he came to have these stunning photos.

Harlow C. Simpson (1891-1959) was my maternal grandfather. I was born in August 1959 and he died in September. He saw me once but I never knew him personally. Harlow ran the family’s seed mill in Norristown, Pa. after his father, Edward D. Simpson who died in 1918.

My uncle Henry (Hank) Simpson, helped his father run the mill and inherited it when he died. Harlow had placed family portraits and two envelopes of large format negatives in the mill. When the mill closed down after damage caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, Hank moved the portraits and negatives to a box in the attic. Henry died in 1996 and his wife Betty died earlier this year.

While preparing the house (a 1700’s home) for sale my cousin, Amy Simpson, discovered the box (and knowing how much I follow our family history) gave it to me. I couldn’t make out what was on the negatives but in the envelope marked “Stone Harbor beach” I saw what looked to be an early plane. I sent all the negatives to a Baltimore photo lab where they were developed.

Marshall E Reid Mail Plane

Looking at the blurry action photo of the plane I could make out the elongated word “MARSHALL” on the underside of the wing. A Google search of Marshall, Stone Harbor and Early Planes brought me to your excellent article. I did a search on your name and found your contact information.

Based on the information provided to me by Jeffrey Arrington, I will provide some context regarding these intriguing photos. Three of the five photos probably have never been published or viewed by the public before. (Side note – Harlow’s father, Edward, and his uncle, Howard A. Simpson had a joint business venture in Stone Harbor and maintained summer homes there in the summer of 1912.)

Harlow C Simspon c1920

This is Harlow Simpson c1920. He was an “avid photographer” also known for taking pictures of Spanish-American War veterans marching in a parade in Norristown. On or about August 3, 1912, he was on that Stone Harbor beach to capture a key moment in Stone Harbor history when temporary airmail service was established between the South Jersey seashore resort communities of Ocean City and Stone Harbor.

Marshall E Reid Mail Plane on Stone Harbor beach – detail

The aircraft has landed on Stone Harbor beach. It appears that there are two occupants onboard this airplane. The occupant on the right may very well be a female passenger. The literature on these flights does confirm that Pilot Marshall Reid occasionally took paying passengers, including women, up for short scenic flights.

Marshall Reid owned a 1911 model Wright ‘pusher type’ two-winged aircraft often referred to as a bi-plane. Interestingly, this plane was driven by two propellers that were connected with the engine by nothing more than bicycle chains. The plane had a wingspan of forty-five feet when unoccupied and weighed about 600 pounds. It cost Reid $5,000 and the engine alone itself was worth $2,000. And yes, this aircraft was built by the famous brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton, Ohio.

Late in the afternoon on August 3, 1912, and with considerable fanfare, a special postal courier delivered a bag loaded with mail that had been postmarked that day at Ocean City to be carried onboard the first airmail flight to Stone Harbor. Pilot Marshall Reid fastened the bag of mail to his plane and took off at 5:45 PM.
Flying along the shoreline, Reid and his mechanic maintained an altitude of about 150 feet and progressed southward past resort communities including Strathmere, Sea Isle City, Avalon, and finally to Stone Harbor.

Marshall E Reid Mail Plane landing on beach at Stone Harbor NJ – cropped

The landing on the beach at Stone Harbor occurred at 6:14 PM, covering the 19-mile distance in some 29 minutes. Reid dropped off his bag of mail, checked over his aircraft, and within just minutes he received another bag of mail from the Stone Harbor Postmaster and returned back northward to Ocean City.

Reid also made four round trips from Stone Harbor carrying only passengers on the next day, Sunday, August 4. As best as can be determined, the mail flights were only conducted from Ocean City on August 3, 5, 9, and 10 and from Stone Harbor on August 3, 7, and 9. The weather that week limited the number of mail-carrying flights, thus accounting for the erratic schedule of dates that Reid actually flew mail.

In the four trips from Ocean City during that week Marshall Reid transported 11,456 pieces of mail and on the three trips from Stone Harbor, he is known to have carried just 1,059 pieces of mail.

Most of the mail flown on these particular flights were picture postcards that bore a 1-cent postage stamp, as that was the domestic postage rate at that time for postcards. Sealed letters mailed at that time required 2-cents pre-paid postage. In addition, all mail actually flown on these special flights bear properly dated official postmarks from each of the two towns along with a written or even printed or inked notation stating “VIA AEROPLANE MAIL” or ‘VIA AIRPLANE.” He flew a grand total of 12,615 pieces of mail. On the last trip from Ocean City Reid flew over 5,000 pieces of mail.

Transporting mail by air in 1912 was an unusual and novel idea and the concept certainly did capture the interest and attention of many people. However, very few of these flown airmail pieces have actually survived to this day. Locating and acquiring one such specially flown item is indeed a rare and expensive find. Among aerophilatelists this collectible is an outstanding example of postal history.

Postcard with handwritten notation VIA AEROPLANE

The vintage postcard example shown here first features the address and message side showing a standard Ocean City postmark and was actually carried onboard one of the four southbound flights and dated “AUG. 9 – 12 – 1 PM” with six elongated straight killer bars in black ink. Note the hand-applied two-line cachet imprint in magenta ink indicating “OCEAN CITY & STONE HARBOR / AERIAL U.S. MAIL SERVICE” and the hand-written endorsement “Via Aeroplane.”

Boardwalk and Beach, looking North from 8th st., Ocean City, NJ

The picture side of this rare flown postcard is titled “Boardwalk and Beach, looking North from 8th St., Ocean City, N.J.” This classic vintage image depicts well-dressed summer strollers on the popular boardwalk skirting along the ocean surf, countless small shops, two pavilions or gazebos, a fishing pier jutting out into the ocean, and a sign advertising a local eatery known as Tahoma Restaurant.

Marshall E Reid Mail Plane on Stone Harbor beach – crop

Above, the aircraft has apparently just landed on Stone Harbor beach. Under enlargement, note several important features: the large ocean-front buildings in the background; the small gathering of spectators and their attire; a cameraman holding his camera and tripod; the entire aircraft in full frontal view; and someone, perhaps a passenger, seated onboard the aircraft alongside a seat for the pilot.

Marshall E Reid Mail Plane

This dramatic, albeit blurry, photo seen earlier suggests the speed and movement of Reid’s aeroplane as it took off from the beach at Stone Harbor and headed back north to Ocean City.

underside lower wing

Look more closely, as Jeffrey Arrington did, at the underside of the lower wing.

Below, corrected for skew, lightened, and sharpened – now the name is more evident.

MARSHALL underside lower wing

Imagine Jeffrey Arrington’s “eureka moment” when he saw the word “MARSHALL” in bold capital letters emblazoned there and found our 2015 article that confirmed his ancestor’s involvement in airmail history.

group at Stone Harbor U.S.L.S.S c1909

This idyllic summertime view depicts a group of young people c1909 spending a leisurely day at Tatham Life Saving Station, the oldest building in Stone Harbor.

Linnie Kogelschatz, about 17, c1909

The young woman standing in the back row on the far right was photographer Harlow Simpson’s girlfriend, Linnie Kogelschatz (1892-1964), at perhaps 17 years old. Simpson later married her in 1920 and she in time became Jeffrey Arrington’s maternal grandmother.

Marshall Earle Reed’s aeroplane, c1912, postally unused, Inscription on address side states: “Marshall Earle Reed’s (sic – name is misspelled here) aeroplane alighting on the Beach at Stone Harbor.

This vintage 1912 era postcard shows a somewhat difficult to discern view of Marshall Reid’s airplane in the distance alighting on the beach at Stone Harbor. We understand that pioneer pilot Reid wore aviator goggles and sat on the bag of mail in a rickety bucket seat just in front of the motor.

Talk about flying on the seat of your pants!

Five similar postcard views below show the Tatham Life Saving Station. Observe the sturdy surfboat ready to be launched with a very large rowing oar that has been wheeled out of its storage bay on the beach and facing the ocean and ready for action should need be.

Note in two of the photos, a large sign displays the numerals “132” on the left side of the building. The Coast Guard painted them to aid airplanes to accurately identify each of the 41 lifesaving stations along the New Jersey shoreline.

So there you have it! And thanks to this new information from contributor Jeffrey Arrington, the story of the first airmail flights in South Jersey is now more complete.

Do you have something laying in a mill, a basement, a dresser drawer, etc. that would elaborate upon this or another post here on rivertonhistory.com? Please use the contact form below. The Historical Society of Riverton welcomes your stories, first-hand accounts, photos, as well as your comments.

Better late than never – Two Riverton Walking Tours available

1989 Riverton Walking Tour pamphlet

Lenore Probsting provided the hand-drawn illustrations to accompany Louise Vaughn‘s and Betty Hahle’s text for the first Walking Tour of Historic Riverton in 1981. They revised it in 1989.

The informative and straightforward double-sided leaflet guided hundreds of visitors and residents for over thirty years in their exploration of the history and architecture of our village. (See the entire printable copy here.)

Walking Tour #1, 2012

The HSR shall be forever grateful for the pioneering historical research of Riverton and the preservation efforts of those early members of our organization.

In 2012, the Society made available the first of two new Riverton Walking Tours.  The idea was to make two individual loop routes that added together would total more than the original 27 stops.

The first one covered 17 stops on a route that started at Broad and Main, went toward the river along Main to Third Street, turned right to Howard, and finished back where it started.

The intention was to produce a second Riverton Walking Tour that would go along Bank Avenue, circle back along Carriage House Lane to Penn Street, to Third, and finally along Main back to Bank Avenue.

To say that we got stalled is an understatement.

Nine years later we can offer two Riverton Walking Tours comprised of 17 and 24 stops respectively. Together they encompass an area from Broad Street to the Delaware River.

Library display

Folks can now view each Riverton Walking Tour online, download printable copies, or pick up one of a limited number of hard copies available at Riverton Free Library, Tillie’s Trinkets & Treasures, and Nellie Bly’s for a one dollar donation.

 

Riverton Walking Tour #1 -download printable 3.24MB PDF

Riverton Walking Tour #2- download printable 2.46MB PDF

A unique Riverton restoration opportunity!

411 Lippincott Avenue is for sale:$174,900
The Frederick S. Groves Mansion – 1901

A significant example of American “Colonial Revival” design
by Philadelphia Architect Frank T. Mercer, 1901

This grand, Edwardian home was built for the owner of the
Baltimore and Philadelphia Steamboat Company.

Want to live like a steamboat company mogul did 120 years ago? Here’s your chance!

Big picture: why it’s so cheap but why we think it’s worth restoring

On the National Register of Historic Places, the Frederick S. Groves Mansion has a great pedigree.

It is right in the middle of the desirable Riverton Historic District on our widest and most beautiful street, Lippincott Avenue.

On a deep lot (190′) of 1/3 acre, this once-grand house is just under 5,000 sq. ft. and has 6 bedrooms.

All other houses on this street, nearly all of them historic, have been beautifully restored. Now this one awaits someone with serious renovation experience.

The interior was once stunning and can be again. It has been badly neglected but all its good natural woodwork from 1901 is not so worn that it can’t be refinished.

In particular, the front hall and stairway have the potential to be stunning. The walls are all wide boards, either oak or chestnut (they’re very dark, so we’re not sure which), and have never been painted! Need refinishing? Yes, probably. You can’t buy wood like this today but you can find folks who will refinish it.

parquet flooring

The first floor has amazing 1901 parquet flooring that hasn’t been abused. The first flight of steps has already been scraped of old finish.

Most of the hardwood floors on the upper floors seem pretty good, too. Only a couple of areas up there show staining from roof leaks (and the wood there is not fancy, so it is simple to replace with new).

We see a few structural issues, though not major, in our amateur opinion. Two columns in the basement probably need replacing and an upper landing needs to be leveled and reinforced (due to a framing oversight from 1901 that didn’t age well after a century …)

The big good news is that the rest of the interior probably needs everything, including lots of plaster repair.

Wait, that’s good news?

Yes, that’s good news because once you’ve protected the floors and stairs from further damage, you can bring in multiple crews at once to open up walls as much as you need, to easily run new electric, water, HVAC, add/rebuild bathrooms, etc. (That freedom is like a dream for those of us who have tried to do this piecemeal while living in such houses!)

And that low price should make a full blitz rehab attractive, we think.

The Historical Society of Riverton (HSR), including its officers and board, has no financial stake in this property.  We bring this home to your attention, with our opinions and observations, because it is our mission “to discover, restore and preserve local objects and landmarks” – and what a landmark this house was, and can be again!

Here is its listing on Realtor.com: https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/411-Lippincott-Ave_Riverton_NJ_08077_M96319-22290

The property is presented by Janet Brandenburger, brokered by BHHS Fox & Roach, Moorestown, (215) 669-6562.  Or call your favorite Realtor.

There’s always a mystery

This house was reconfigured in many ways in 1901 and two newspaper accounts of the time refer to the work as “large brick and stone additions.” Is it possible that there really is a brick and stone house hiding behind that aluminum siding? You could be the one who finds out!

The History of the Groves Mansion

Frederick S. Groves photo from Baltimore Sun Obit

Historical records indicate that the house which now stands on this property is quite different from when it was originally built in 1882-83 for Frederick Stanley Groves, Sr.  At that time, Mr. Groves was the adult son of the wealthy Philadelphia shipping executive Anthony K. Groves, who had founded the Baltimore and Philadelphia Steamboat Company, called the “Ericsson Line.” Their stylish boats carried passengers and some freight through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal between those two bustling cities.  

1890 Bird’s-Eye View, detail showing 411 Lippincott location

The only known image of the original house is the one shown on the 1890 “Bird’s-Eye View of Riverton, New Jersey“. That rendering indicates that the structure began modestly, appearing to be a rectangular block, capped by a transverse, pitched roof with four end gables, a front porch, and a single-story shed addition at the back. It would have been an attractive two-and-a-half-story Victorian dwelling, typical of, if less impressive than, similar houses being constructed up and down Lippincott Avenue at that time.

In 1891, the founder of the steamboat company died, passing ownership of the lucrative enterprise on to his eldest son, F.S. Groves, Sr. Firmly established in Riverton by then, Mr. Groves chose to remain in our community, commuting via steamboat from here to the company’s offices at Pier 3 South on the Delaware in Philadelphia, located where Penn’s Landing is today.

From company brochure, collection of Roger Prichard

His steamboat company flourished.

Groves would soon become a prominent figure in Riverton, serving, among other things, as one of the six founders of the Riverton Country Club, in 1900.

By then, his entire family was mingling with the cream of Riverton society, including the Fitlers and the Dorrances. His son and daughter were coming of age (and in 1905 his son would marry Ellen Therese Dorrance, daughter of Arthur Dorrance, the extraordinarily successful president of the Campbell Soup Company). Apparently, Mr. Groves decided that it was high time to create a house that would match his stature.

The house as we see it today

Groves acquired both of the adjacent vacant lots and hired a Philadelphia-based architect, Frank T. Mercer, to transform his modest dwelling into something truly grand, which the architect did, creating what was then one of the most imposing houses in the area … the building which now stands.

For his client, Mercer envisioned, designed, and oversaw the construction of a grand residence in the “Colonial Revival” style, a form of architecture that had been inspired in anticipation of the nation’s centennial celebration in the mid-1870s and which would remain popular for the ensuing fifty years.

Contracting the work in January 1901, Mercer incorporated virtually every hallmark of a high-style Colonial Revival residence including not one, but two “Dutch Colonial” gambrel roofs, probably covered in slate; either beveled or cedar shake siding (currently obscured behind aluminum); an expansive “wrap-around” porch, encircling a two-story rounded corner bay and adorned by simple, paired Doric columns.

chimney

The entire structure is dominated by three tall, arcaded chimney stacks.

From the outside, many additional, essential Colonial Revival features may be noted; including an impressive single-leaf, beveled glass and wood-paneled entrance door and fenestration which incorporates large single, double-hung, and three-part windows displaying upper sashes comprised of leaded glass panes, over single-light lower sashes.

curved leaded window

Those on the rounded bay are curved to conform to the bend. Remarkably, all of the leaded glass windows remain intact and are in good condition today, approximately 3 dozen sash.

oval window

Finally, the oval window on the second-floor landing is also of leaded glass in a wonderful spider-web design.

The interior, although ravaged by time and neglect, still exhibits many elements of a high-end “Edwardian” house. These include: fine hardwood floors throughout, those in the principal rooms are laid out in beautiful parquet patterns; handsome dark oak paneling covers all of the walls in the grand entry hall and extends up along the open, balustraded staircase to the second floor.

living room fireplace

From there, a wide, light-filled central hall proceeds to a similarly appointed open staircase, leading to the spacious third floor.  The expansive entry hall also features dark oak ceiling beams and a massive brick corner fireplace.

Many of the other fine rooms throughout the house contain interesting period fireplaces, turn-of-the-last-century lighting fixtures, and some furniture that is obviously original to the house.  Kitchens and bathrooms were evidently “modernized” in the middle of the 20th century and will require complete remodeling now, the sorts of projects that inevitably come with the renovation of every historic property in Riverton, or anywhere.

And the house has a little mystery: two newspaper items in January 1901 mention the architect engaging a builder to create the house we see. But … both items describe the work as “large brick and stone additions.” Did they switch from masonry to frame at the last minute, or – could it be? – is there really a brick and stone house hiding behind that aluminum siding?

These and many other original features of this house make it an exciting survivor and a unique restoration opportunity.

Preservation Opportunities and Requirements

The Borough of Riverton is preservation-friendly

Apart from demolition restrictions (see below) the Borough of Riverton has no other construction requirements which apply to historic structures specifically.

There are no regulations about paint colors, interior changes, or specific approvals for historic materials.

To assist restoration, the Borough provides the volunteer services of the Architectural Review Committee to help owners with non-binding recommendations and advice. Renovators have found their guidance invaluable for design choices and in finding skilled contractors and sources of unusual materials. (We at the Historical Society of Riverton are also eager to help – please see the HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF RIVERTON INFORMATION below.)

Prohibitions to demolition

Because the Groves Mansion is a Contributing Resource to the Riverton District on the National Register of Historic Places, the public policy of the Borough of Riverton makes it very difficult for a buyer to demolish this – or any – building in the Historic District.

This reassures you, as the renovator of this home, that the surrounding homes are similarly protected, so your restoration investment is unlikely to be harmed by future tear-downs of nearby historic homes.

The Borough’s Master Plan and the planning section of the Zoning Code, in place for more than a quarter-century, are unequivocal about the importance to the residents of Historic Riverton of the architectural character of homes just such as this and their overwhelming desire to keep the Historic District intact.

No applicant has been successful in demolishing a Contributing Resource structure such as this in the 24 years since this National Register District came into existence.

Historical Society of Riverton Information

The Historical Society of Riverton is an active, volunteer organization that has now celebrated its 50th year of “discovering, restoring, and preserving” Riverton’s rich history.

The HSR has created an extensive website, fully searchable, at www.rivertonhistory.com.

We have quite a bit of additional information about the Groves family and their steamboat company, including a detailed family tree constructed on Ancestry.com.

We encourage you to contact us with questions. Please fill out our form below.

And consider joining us! Since you have an interest in this home we know you’ll enjoy it.

Researched and written by Keith Betten and Roger Prichard

 

An old newspaper donated by Jerry Blaney recalls Riverton of 1966

The New Era, March 31, 1966 The .PDF file is 11.5MB.

Among the items that Jerry Blaney donated was a fifty-five-year-old copy of The New Era newspaper dated March 31, 1966.

Our collection of old Riverton and Palmyra newspapers has been an invaluable resource in our research into local events and people.

If you ever stumble into a stash of old local newspapers, a single copy, or even some cut-out clippings PULLEEEESE rescue them and give them to the Historical Society of Riverton, or at least let us scan them. -JMc

 

A rare item’s roundabout journey ends in Riverton

framed 1920 July 4th Program donation – Gerald Blaney

As reported in the Dec 2020 Gaslight News, Riverton resident Jerry Blaney generously donated to the Society a box containing his ten-year collection of historical collectibles. Jerry knew that we’d really appreciate his gift because I had been outbid by him on eBay for one item in particular – a rare 1920 July Fourth Program.

For a century-old publication, this one sure took a circuitous route to get to us.

It once belonged to Mrs. Mary Jane Mento, widow of Mr. Dante Mento, a popular local musician. When she passed away, her daughter living in the South inherited it, and she placed it on an eBay auction.

In 2010, Gerald Blaney moved from Palmyra (PHS Class of ’64) to the marvelous converted carriage house at 109 Penn Street. Later, in 2014, he prevailed as the high bidder for the 1920 July Fourth Program and he generously allowed the use of the image seen here.

It was indispensable in writing a 2013 website post that cross-referenced old New Era newspaper articles and archival photos to describe Riverton’s 1920 Independence Day celebration. Too often, when ownership of such items changes the information contained within is lost for public use.

Finally, in December 2020, because Jerry was downsizing and hopscotching to yet another Riverton address, he emailed us and offered to give the 1920 July 4th Program and other items to us.

I really must commend Mr. Blaney and thank him for ensuring that this unique piece of Riverton history wound up with the Historical Society of Riverton rather than being offered for sale on eBay, only to land who knows where?

What irreplaceable bit of Riverton history do you have that would help fill in another page of Riverton history? More to come in another post about the interesting items that Jerry donated. -JMc