Filling in some missing pieces

Just want to let you know that a couple of new posts are on the website – they are just on other tabs. There’s a recap of the Feb. 24th Plum Run performance at Riverview Estates on the Programs and Events page.

At the conclusion of that program, a Riverview staff member gave me two hardback “coffee table” books that someone attending the performance had asked him to give to the Historical Society. No word of the anonymous benefactor, so I’ll just express our thanks here.

Beach Haven Yacht Club, Beach Haven, NJ
Another bonus was that HSR member John Palko sought me out to loan us some postcards for scanning and posting to the LBI section of the Images page. These seven vintage linen-era postcards truly are in mint condition. They are shown in the picture gallery below and are also integrated with the dozens of other Long Beach Island views on the Images page.

Regular visitors to this website know that the Society actually owns a scant few of the postcards displayed on the Images page. Almost all the images are the result of the kindnesses of many people who have either sent us files of scanned images or allowed us to do the scanning.

We, of course, love to receive donations of items. However, given the limited supply of these unique and historically important artifacts and collectibles, a photo of the item is preferable to nothing at all. We are fortunate indeed to have received so many scanned images and are in a position to share them with a wider audience.

When you send in your comments and recollections about an image or a story posted here, it becomes part of what might be termed the Society’s “collective memories” and often helps fill in missing pieces or gives another perspective to a topic. So please, find those comment icons throughout this website and leave some memories behind.

Riverton Post Office RPPC courtesyDoug D’Avino, “Post Offices of New Jersey – A History Told Through Postcards,” New Jersey Postal History Society
While on the subject of postcards, here is a choice real photo post card (RPPC) of a  Riverton landmark. Better known as Freddy”s Shoe Repair today, this frame building at 609 Main Street has experienced several past lives in its various reincarnations through Riverton’s former times.

Click on the image to get the larger resolution version. Notice the shape of the windows on the back addition to 609 Main.

The pointed tops of those Gothic shaped windows are a clue to the building’s first purpose as a Sunday school building that William P. Ellison presented to Christ Episcopal parish in 1876 as a Centennial  offering. (1909 New Era, pg. 12)

When the church erected a new Parish House in 1895,  Samuel Rudderow, purchased the structure and moved it to its present site at 609 Main. Rudderow was a local architect-builder who constructed a number of the houses on Lippincott Avenue- at least some of them of his own design. (BBH GN #035 Sept 1984)

From 1904-1907 the newly formed Porch Club rented the building; they took possession of their permanent quarters at Fourth and Howard in 1909. (1909 New Era, pg. 19)

The building at 609 Main, now occupied by Freddy’s Shoe Repair, served as the fifth of Riverton’s eight post office locations from 1909-1931.

In 1937, the New Era newspaper moved its operation from 607 Main (partly visible at the left side of the postcard) where it remained until about 1975. (1965 New Era, pg. 18).

This rare postcard came into our virtual collection after the publication of the February newsletter  – the one with the article I co-wrote with Mrs. Pat Solin called, “Special Delivery – Riverton’s United States Post Office.”  While trolling the internet hoping to catch more information so I could produce a beefed up version of that post office story for our website I happened to find this picture displayed in a New Jersey Postal History Society’s photo gallery. 

To cut to the denouement, I struck a deal with the postcard owner – we get to display the former Riverton Post Office image and I will send him the extended version of our Riverton Post Office story when I finish it for publication in his newsletter. Win-win.

The longer article with more text, maps, photos, and newspaper clippings, etc. than could be fitted into the print edition is still in production. I’ll post it here when completed.

The New Jersey Postal History Society, established in 1972, has an extensive website filled with a wealth of research, information, resource links, a member photo gallery, and a calendar of events. Check out NJPHS member Doug D’Avino’s incredible photo gallery, “Post Offices of New Jersey – A History Told Through Postcards” where you will see dozens of NJ post offices from Adamston to Yardville represented on postcards .

You can find the latest February issue of our newsletter, the Gaslight News, under the Gaslight News tab.

I just picked up the March 2011 issue of The Positive Press when I was out today.  Publisher Regina M. Collinsgru did a super job on the layout for the Society’s article. It’s the same “Special Delivery” post office story that is in the Gaslight News, but that publication reaches many more households than we have on our membership rolls.

True to its name, The Positive Press prints news stories and human interest articles with an upbeat perspective, often with a nostalgic aspect. Send the link to a friend or family member across the miles so that they can catch up on hometown news from Riverside, Delanco, Delran, Palmyra, Riverton, and Cinnaminson.

Another recent post that might have been missed is the one on the creation of the Riverton Military and Veterans Affairs Committee by Riverton Borough Council. Find out more about it and see the updated Honor Roll Album – the HSR’s salute to honor those men and women of Riverton who have served their country in time of war – under the Riverton Veterans tab.

Since I posted the PowerPoint presentation about the Welsbach Streetlamp Company on which  Jeff Cole and I collaborated in 2007 (along with some other Welsbach literature), we have received several queries from visitors who have needed technical help or parts for their gaslamps. Find lots more Welsbach items here. Just to be clear – the Society doesn’t maintain the streetlights.

Boulevard Model Welsbach Gaslamp

These links are for suppliers that sell glass and acrylic globes for Welsbach lamps. The original company is long out of business. The only help I can give is to refer readers to the following vendor list.  Hope it helps. Like anything else, just be sure that you are getting the right part for your model. Riverton lamps are the Boulevard model. is based in Wisconsin. This page shows the globe (glass or acrylic)  and milkglass dome – parts often needing replacement. Same deal – Boulevard model reproduction parts  This company lists parts on the Victorian section of the catalog

I received word that former Riverton resident Marge Habernn moved to Virginia and left a New Era newspaper with an acquaintance to be donated to the Society. I only had to pick it up from Mike Digney – literally a block away from my home in Delran. This was extraordinarily thoughtful of Marge since this is an issue that is not in the microfilm collection of Riverton Library. There will be more about what we can glean from this priceless time capsule on another blog post. With no forwarding address for Ms. Habernn, I can only express my heartfelt thanks.

POCAX-2012 Announcement

If an interest in old postcards brought you here, you may want to save this date: May 5, 2012. The South Jersey Postcard Club is having a postcard show at Double Tree Suites Hotel in Mount Laurel. The next regular membership meeting is March 11 in Marlton. Find more information on their website.

That is how it goes here as we try to fill in the missing pieces of this Riverton history jigsaw puzzle.

Let us know if you can fill in another piece or if we have one in the wrong place. It’s more fun if we do this together.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


Welsbach Gaslamps Are Century-Old Fixtures Here

Riverton Yacht Club and Pier, 2007

Ask someone what things in town they think symbolize Riverton, and somewhere in that top ten list will probably be the Riverton Yacht Club and the old-time gas streetlamps. Here are both in the same photo, taken on a sunny August day in 2007.

There is just no place else which has this picture postcard look.

We here in Riverton may be “used to” the gaslamps illuminating our streets. To an outside visitor, though, it must seem as if a Hollywood set dresser has placed these nostalgic fixtures throughout this charming town in order to evoke an elegant Victorian mood.

Whereas most American cities had gaslit streets in the early 20th century, only a handful have retained the type of old-fashioned gas streetlights which have become such an integral part of many people’s memories of Riverton.

It is hard to imagine Riverton without its cherished gaslamps. Yet, there was a time during the late 1970s when it looked like Riverton’s gas streetlamps would be snuffed out for good.

Welsbach lapel pin

In November 2007, Mr. Jeff Cole, a HSR member and Riverton resident, presented a comprehensive presentation on the Welsbach Street Lighting Company which manufactured the original lamps. In it, he traced the history and development of the Welsbach Company, explained the technology of the incandescent gas mantle, told of the battle against the state Board of Public Utilities to keep the lamps, and showed some his collection of  Welsbach publications and collectibles.

Jeff is uniquely qualified to assemble such a project since he is the grandson of Mr. Robinet Cole, a Riverton resident who worked at Welsbach for a remarkable 68 years. In a true Horatio Alger story if there ever was one, the elder Mr. Cole worked his way up from being a 15 year-old office boy to the president of the company.

In case you have wondered about those gaslamps, or missed that Historical Society meeting almost four years ago, here is that same PowerPoint and the notes that explain the slides. Click here to download the 43.4 MB  PowerPoint slide show and click here to download the PDF file of explanatory speaker’s notes.  In addition, several rare publications used by Jeff in the preparation of the project can be seen in greater detail by clicking on the following links:

A handsome example of an original gaslamp post refinished by homeowner, Mr. Harry Richman

As always, we welcome your comments, additions, or corrections.

John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor

The schooner Lucy Evelyn, built 1917, beached at Beach Haven, NJ  (1948-1972) where it served as a unique gift shop. Destroyed by fire, 1972.
PS – Despite these damp chilly days which have no business being here at the end of March, my thoughts wander to warmer temps and past summers at the shore. For me, it was LBI. I worked there several summers through high school and college at Surf City Hotel, first as busboy and then as a waiter. Look on the Images page for recent uploads of 87 Long Beach Island images40 Ocean City images, 10 Seaside Heights images, and 5 Avalon images. Those great linen-era postcards depict a number of things which aren’t there anymore, and most pre-date even my serving days at Surf City Hotel during the 1960s.


Welsbach torch
Welsbach torch – top view

PPS – 06/13/2012. A visitor named Anthony has a torch stamped “Welsbach Street Lighting Company of America” and he left two comments about it below. Since then, he sent in two photos which we display here in the hope that someone may be able to offer more information about it.