2024 history writing contest for high school students – $500 prize

Due May 31, 2024

The Historical Society of Riverton will award a cash prize of $500 to a Riverton high school student who submits a 1000 word essay that best answers the question “What did Rivertonians do for fun 100 years ago?”

Essays should be submitted to Heather Huffnagle for the HSR at heather.mary.macintosh@gmail.com 

Here’s more information on the prize, research suggestions, and guidelines:

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Historical Society of Riverton Third Annual Writing Prize Spring 2024

Summary: The Historical Society of Riverton (HSR) is awarding a cash prize of $500 for a 1000 word essay that answers a question about Riverton’s history. The winning entry will be featured on the HSR’s website: www.rivertonhistory.com. Noteworthy essays that do not win the primary prize may also be published on the HSR’s website. Essays will follow MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines for published works (see below).

The Question: What did Rivertonians do for fun 100 years ago? In your essay, discuss the ways people entertained themselves in the 1920s. How and with whom did they socialize? Where did they go to have fun when they weren’t working? What social, political, economic and technological changes were happening nationally and in this region that affected what people did for fun in the 1920s?

Where to start? Our website includes many photographs and articles on Riverton’s history that may help inform and illustrate your essay. The HSR has many issues of historic Riverton-area newspapers digitized and available online at: https://rivertonhistory.com/historical- local-newspapers/.

Who may submit an entry? Any high school student living in Riverton may apply.

Questions? Essays and questions related to the prize should be submitted to Heather Huffnagle at heather.mary.macintosh@gmail.com, (856) 505-7087.

Review Committee The Review Committee will be comprised of HSR Board Members and professionals among its membership with education and/or experience in historical research, education and writing.

Timeline: Entries will be accepted until May 31st. Awardees will be contacted by June 15. The winning writer will be recognized at a ceremony in Riverton Park on the 4th of July.


MLA Paper Format General Guidelines • Use standard 8.5 x 11 white paper. • Number your pages. • 1-inch margins (all sides) • Readable font • Double-spaced • Indent new paragraphs. • Only one space between sentences

MLA cover page includes a few things like: • Title of your paper • Your name • Your email • Your school’s name

What should an MLA paper look like? An MLA paper has a standard look for every page including 1-inch margins, a readable font, a running header including your last name and page number, and author-page in- text citations. At the end of your paper, you will include a works cited with a list of all the sources used in the paper.

February 8, 2024 Program

No place is more iconic to Riverton’s image! Join us for a free program chock full of images and stories about the historic Riverton Yacht Club, now entering its 160th year on our riverfront. Includes some super never-before-seen photos recently donated to HSR by Stephen Biddle Russell, a great-great-grandson of Riverton founder Robert Biddle (whose house still stands at 309 Bank).

And because everyone has been curious about the huge rebuilding project of the pier last year, we’ll have exclusive close-up photos and video of what problems needed to be solved and how that was done.

Everyone is welcome!

A new day for 101 Lippincott

It’s April, 1897, and Charles and Hetty Miller must have been delighted with their gracious new house, built in the newly-popular Georgian style, distinctly up-to-date … and NOT Victorian like their family homes nearby!

In the course of 127 years, it’s inevitable that any house will go through a rough patch or two. This one is no exception – but it’s coming back!

Charles C. Miller married Hetty C. Lippincott in 1892 and four years later they built this grand Georgian Revival home at the corner of Lippincott Avenue and Carriage House Lane. They kept it in fine style for the next 59 years.

The home had a difficult time in recent years, but happiness is returning.

Christmas, 1933 was a warm day. 101 Lippincott is in the background. Christmas parties here were legendary, with half the town being relatives of some sort. Parties were shared with their cousins, the Skipwith Coale family, whose grand Mansard roof home still stands across the street at number 100. This group is posing on the Coales’ front lawn. HSR is indebted to Hank Hackett for this fine scan of 41 of his relatives.

John and Danielle Casparro had long admired its grace and fine workmanship (and worried over its obvious decline) but it took a number of years to buy it and set about bringing it back to life.

In just NINE MONTHS (!) since John and Danielle bought it, they’ve gone at the project with great energy and yet careful dedication to its historic materials and beautiful original design. Riverton is very lucky to have folks with so much care, vision, and expertise.

Have a look …

A failing roof caused major leaks from the built-in gutters, rotting the gorgeous cornice and attracting animals to move in with their extended families.
The Casparros’ contractor, All American Artisan, carefully measured and recreated this entire cornice.

Bossen Architectural Millwork in East Riverton reproduced the moldings, just like in 1896.

The Casparros’ contractor, All American Artisan, has made it like the bad things never happened.

Then, because this house was intended to be painted in colors (see the top photo), John and Danielle consulted with the indispensable A Century of Color by Roger Moss and created this combination, which softly brings out the depth of all the trim elements:

Kevin O’Shea, of Affordable Image Painting, tackled the job of applying the attractive, and historically-appropriate, color selection to replace the unending white.

There’s much more to come, but look at what they have accomplished just in the first nine months. They …

  • Removed carpet, refinished all original pine hardwoods (1st and 2nd floor)
  • Removed all remaining knob and tube wiring. 
  • Repointed 25% of the stone foundation
  • Brick pointed, new caps and crowns on 2 of 3 chimneys.
  • Replaced 10 windows matching to the original style from 1896 (all windows had been replaced by a previous owner with vinyl, other than the Palladian facing Carriage House Lane)
  • Jetted clear all french drains to restore and use original storm water system
  • Replaced flat roofs on both porches
  • Extensive repair/restoration/painting of exterior including matching original 1896 trim work
  • Painting and plaster restoration throughout 1st and 2nd floor

Tired yet?

And who were Charles and Hetty Lippincott Miller?

Though he didn’t have a Riverton childhood, Charles Cooper Miller (1865-1954) was the nephew of no fewer than five of the original households of Riverton: Daniel Leeds Miller, Jr., Elizabeth Miller (married to William Parrish), Anna Miller (married to Robert Biddle), Rachel Miller (married to William Biddle), and Charles C. Miller (not considered a “founder” but a very early owner of Chalkley Gillingham’s house at 100 Main).

Charles Cooper Miller (1865-1954), photo from 1933. Courtesy of Hank Hackett, great nephew of Hetty Lippincott Miller.

A Hicksite Quaker like his wife, Charles graduated from Swarthmore College (founded by several of his aunts and uncles) and became a very successful importer and wholesaler of groceries. He ran his business for decades near the Philadelphia docks on South Front Street. In Riverton, he was one of the founders of the Riverton Country Club.

Hetty Coale Lippincott Miller (1869-1955) was a lifelong Rivertonian, residing in just two houses about 100 yards apart. The daughter of Ezra Lippincott (1836-1906) and Anna Sutton Lippincott (1840-1890), she grew up in 303 Bank Avenue (which everyone has known for many years as the Baptist Home or Riverview Estates) and then after marrying Charles, moved into this house at 101 Lippincott Avenue, where she lived the remaining 59 years of her life.

The Millers raised two daughters in this home, Anna and Elizabeth. Their granddaughter, Nancy Hall, is still a Riverton resident and proud member of the Historical Society of Riverton board. Nancy has many fond memories of her grandparents, and especially their bountiful Christmas feasts.

HSR wishes the Casparros great success in their wonderful effort and our heartfelt congratulations on bringing back this important part of Riverton’s history to brighter days ahead.

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 join or donate!

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

Riverton gets demolition protections!

Congratulations, Historic Riverton! Our town now has the same abilities to stop teardowns of salvageable historic buildings that many other beautiful, historic towns in New Jersey enjoy.

Eight months after the heartbreak of losing the 1901 Groves Mansion at 411 Lippincott (and then the charming Richardson house at 402 Midway just a month ago), Borough Council voted unanimously to establish the necessary Historic Preservation Commission at a special meeting on October 11, 2023 at the Riverton School gym. The Mayor also expressed her strong support.

The new ordinance takes effect immediately.

Read it here: https://riverton-nj.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/O-2023-05A-Final-HPC.pdf

What does the ordinance do?

It established a five-member Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) as an equal body to the Planning Board, replacing the Architectural Review Committee. Its area of influence is Riverton’s Historic District. (See the map on the last page of the ordinance.)

The new HPC has jurisdiction to review applications for full or partial demolition within the Historic District, with the ability to approve or deny – or to approve it with specific conditions. All demolition applications will be heard in a full public hearing, almost exactly like any variance hearing, with full legal notice to all property owners within 200 feet.

Demolition decisions by the HPC are final, although the applicant naturally has the right to appeal.

For now, projects not involving demolition will not be regulated, continuing the same non-binding helpful consulting and advisory services for homeowners that the former Architectural Review Committee provided. Such services include helping homeowners find appropriate windows, siding, materials, contractors, architects, etc.

While there is strong support among the public for making review of major changes binding in the Historic District, exactly how that might work will be a future chapter of this saga. No one wants the HPC to be an intrusive bureaucracy like some Home Owners Associations but then again none of us wants their neighbor to strip off a Victorian facade and replace it with glass brick.

What it does NOT do is regulate interiors or colors.

How does the HPC affect me?

Unless you are planning to demolish all or part of your house, nothing has changed.

BUT … you can now rest easier knowing that your neighbor will have a much harder time demolishing their historic house, which would reduce the value of yours.

How did Riverton’s new HPC come about?

For 25 years, Rivertonians thought our historic homes were protected from demolition. Many of us invested lovingly in restoring our own homes on the assumption that our historic surroundings would be defended. Our award-winning 1998 Master Plan made this the Borough’s clear public policy, to “preserve and enhance” our historic character, as it stated repeatedly.

But in late 2021 a developer applied to the Planning Board to demolish the 1901 Groves Mansion at 411 Lippincott Avenue, intending to subdivide the gracious lot and build three new houses on one of Riverton’s finest historic blocks. The Planning Board turned them down after several closely-followed public hearings.

The 1901 Frederick Stanley Groves mansion at 411 Lippincott Avenue. Groves was president of the Baltimore and Philadelphia Steamboat Company.

But the developer promptly instituted an expensive lawsuit against the Borough and the Planning Board, contending, among other things, that the Planning Board didn’t have jurisdiction.

Superior Court heard the developer’s suit one year later on January 25, 2023. Judge Jeanne Covert ruled that Riverton’s policy of preserving its historic appearance was perfectly permissible under state law. However . . . she ruled that the only legal way to implement that is for Riverton to have an HPC properly authorized to hear and rule on demolition applications … and we did not.

Therefore, the developer was allowed to destroy the mansion (which he did a week later) and our existing demolition ordinance was useless.

The Groves Mansion being destroyed.

March 13, 2023

Riverton was left defenseless against the teardown epidemic that continues to sweep New Jersey. At that point, any developer could walk into Borough Hall and get a demolition permit over the counter for any historic structure, no approvals needed!

Your Historical Society of Riverton (a 50-year-old non-profit volunteer group not affiliated with the Borough government) stepped up.

The HSR Board recognized that a broad consensus effort was needed that included as many constituencies of the town as possible – and we needed to move fast before developers started bulldozing irreplaceable homes.

HSR convened an ad hoc group of equal members, who would all be resident property owners. Most were asked to represent constituencies: apartment owners, commercial owners, insurance, the Porch Club, the fire company, a realtor, the Mayor, the President of Borough Council, the chair of the Planning Board, the Borough Historian, HSR. Three residents who are professionals with extensive experience in the preservation and planning fields were also asked to participate.

Four members, Planning Board Vice Chair Kerry Brandt, Mayor Suzanne Cairns Wells, HSR Board member John Laverty, and Borough Historian Roger Prichard spent a Saturday attending a valuable statewide workshop sponsored by Rutgers and the New Jersey Historic Trust specifically focused on setting up HPCs properly and how to run them fairly, effectively, and efficiently.

What came to be informally called the “Riverton Historic Preservation Roundtable” held four in-person meetings in Borough Hall and communicated extensively by email. Members literally all sat around a big circle so they could all see and hear each other clearly. The group functioned well. Everyone was respectful of each other, listened and learned.

The group agreed unanimously that its immediate goal should be “no more teardowns”.

The Roundtable recognized that there may be exceptions, situations in which the minimum cost to make a historic building habitable would be more than the building would ultimately be worth. However, most of the members have been involved in successful preservation projects which nay-sayers claimed would certainly fail – and yet they found ways to preserve and succeed economically.

While the Roundtable was working to bring new defenses to Riverton, the same developer destroyed the c. 1905 home of the Richardson family at 402 Midway to fit in three new houses. Without an HPC, Riverton had no way to protect our history.

The Roundtable presented a “Concept Document” to Borough Council on July 18, 2023, which the Council approved unanimously. They recommended that Council not reinvent the wheel, rather adapt an existing, proven ordinance from one of the towns the Judge had mentioned.

Subsequently, the Governing Body asked the Roundtable to act on their behalf to adapt the best-organized of those ordinances into a Riverton-specific ordinance, including clarifications to make it easier to administer by volunteer public officials, as suggested by the Borough Solicitor and also found in other towns.

This ordinance was introduced for first reading on September 19, 2023 at which time it became public. This HSR website immediately shared the draft with readers.

The Planning Board also reviewed this ordinance and supplied well-considered modifications.

This is the ordinance which Council passed unanimously this week, and you can read it here.

At that hearing in the Riverton School gym, everyone who spoke expressed their support: both the Governing Body and every member of the public present. It was very gratifying.

At the conclusion of the vote, the public gave our officials an extended round of heartfelt applause.

What happens next?

Now any application for a demolition in the Historic District will come up against these tough standards just like they would in Cape May, Princeton, Merchantville, Plainfield, Hopewell, etc.

To get the HPC operational, the Mayor must appoint its five members and two alternates. Evidently a fair amount of paperwork is needed, including arranging for a budget, though its expenses are anticipated to be very small. It is hoped that it can hit the ground running as soon as the new Borough year reorganizations start in January.

None of this can bring back either the Groves Mansion or the Richardsons’ house. But those losses have shocked many of us into realizing how precious AND FRAGILE Riverton’s historic appearance is. Losing any of it harms every one of us in this most unusual community.

Many thanks to the Mayor and Council for their support this year and to all the members of the Roundtable. It’s a wonderful example of people setting aside personalities and working together for a common goal – unusual in our world today.

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 (or what you don’t!) 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.

Come out and support preserving Historic Riverton now!

A solid preservation ordinance is in Council and ready to be adopted – let’s make it happen!

Lost in early 20th Century:
James Willis house (1860)
505-507 Bank Ave.

This Wednesday 10/11/2023 at 6:00 pm at Riverton School Gym the Borough Council will hold a special, very important public meeting on a single agenda item we need: considering final passage of a good, solid ordinance to STOP TEARDOWNS in Historic Riverton!

Note the early time: 6:00.

This ordinance will put back into place the protections from demolition which everyone thought our historic treasures already had for years … and then a developer sued and Superior Court threw them out in January.

It corrects the legal technicality that caused us to lose two historically-designated homes this year: the 1901 Groves Mansion at 411 Lippincott Avenue and the c. 1905 Richardson home at 402 Midway.

Read the full ordinance here: https://riverton-nj.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Ordinance-2023-05A-2.pdf

Following State law scrupulously, it will convert the Borough’s Architectural Review Committee into a Historic Preservation Commission which will be able to block teardowns just like every other beautiful historic town in New Jersey already can.

Though there is also strong support in Riverton for standards to defend the historic appearance of our vintage homes, that will require additional study and discussion; it is not included in the scope of this current ordinance. This is a balancing act and will be taken up in future public meetings. There is also a deep desire for strong controls on what new construction in the Historic District can look like in order to blend in. This will be taken up at the same time.

To answer a frequent question, no controls whatsoever are proposed relating to paint colors.

This ordinance came about with the full support of the Mayor and Council over the last 9 months, spearheaded by the ad hoc Riverton Historic Preservation Roundtable. This is a group of 15 equal representatives of various constituencies in town, all homeowners. It was convened by (but not controlled by) the Historical Society of Riverton. The Mayor and Council participated, as well as representatives of apartment owners, commercial owners, realtors, the Planning Board, etc. to ensure that every viewpoint could be heard.

Please come to the School on Wednesday night (at 6:00 pm) and support our Council in this critical effort to defend Historic Riverton. No more teardowns!

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.

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 https://zoom.us/j/93447182894?pwd=SVN4TjJiM3FicGFxdVduQ2xvTVRBZz09

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