Great Party, Great Cause
On November 23, 2019 the Historical Society of Riverton hosted our first ever Historic House Party to raise funds to expand our Betty B. Hahle Excellence in History Award, a cash prize we have granted for over a decade to Riverton School’s most exceptional history students. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we’re looking to build on our past successes. Thanks to our members and friends, we have raised $4,000 to seed an expanded award program that supports excellence in history writing using the HSR’s archives.
The Historic House
The event took place at the historic Coale House, located at 100 Lippincott Avenue in Riverton. The house, built in 1878, has seen a lot of parties. We used a photo of one of these in our publicity for the November 23 event. Before 1910, parties would have taken place in the drawing room where this 1889 photo was taken.
In 1910, Hetty Coale commissioned designs for a renovation of the Second Empire style house at the corner of Lippincott Avenue and Carriage House Lane. This update included the house’s distinctive wraparound porch. The 1910 plan also included a new stable/carriage house, fireplaces, front façade windows, and a substantial reorganization of rooms which make the house’s interior feel more like a four square of the early 20th century than a conventional Victorian house.
The original façade and porch looked very similar to those on other Victorians on Lippincott Avenue. To achieve a more contemporary look, the architects of the 1910 remodel chose round, simple Tuscan columns for the porch, as well as pine decking. In 2019, current owners Henry and Heather Huffnagle replaced the rotting porch with mahogany decking and synthetic columns identical to those in the 1910 scheme.
The 1910 porch is the perfect spot for a Riverton party most months of the year. For our fundraiser, strings of Edison lights festooned the front and back porches. People flowed in and out of the house all night. Nearly 90 people took part in the event, and many helped with finishing touches.
HSR member and sound and light expert Nick Condadina volunteered to help make our event truly spectacular. The newly painted interior of the 1910 carriage house glowed in electric blue and purple light thanks to his professional grade event lighting. Kids in attendance enjoyed this heated space and the backyard bounce house.
We were delighted with the returns. Even HSR members and neighbors who were not able to attend the event donated to the cause. This overwhelming support will help as we work through the next stage of expanding the scope of the Betty B. Hahle Excellence in History Award.
The HSR board has been thinking about improving our family and kid-friendly programming for some time. The Betty B. Hahle Excellence in History Award has supported this goal for over a decade, as have a number of programs such last year’s presentation on suffragist Alice Paul that was well attended by students. At the same time, retired New Jersey State Assistant Archivist Keith Betten has been working with members of the board to improve our archives. Our space in the library’s basement has been a huge boon to this effort.
As we’re looking ahead to the future of the organization, and past successes, the Betty Hahle Award seemed like a great idea that relatively few people know about. And something that could grow to support use of our archives, especially as more and more materials become available on our website.
Writing has been one of the HSR’s strong suits since our inception half a century ago. Mrs. Betty B. Hahle was a past president and newsletter editor of the Society, as well as Town Historian, who wrote extensively about Riverton history – why not honor that legacy by rewarding students who follow her tradition and help tell local history with primary documents?
A committee made up of educators and granting specialists will help iron out the details of this program this year. We will keep you up to date as this award program comes together. Thanks to everyone who made our event a huge success!
Heather Macintosh Huffnagle, House Party Chair, Membership Chair