Station Avenue Business District
The Station Avenue Business District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2013, The Gombach Group.
The Station Avenue Business District is significant as an example of the type of commercial area that evolved to serve the needs of a commuter suburb of the late 19th and early 20th century. The portion of Station Avenue lying between White Horse Pike and Seventh Avenue has served as the business center for Haddon Heights since the community's founding in 1890. This small, linear district contains twenty-six contributing buildings, all of which were in place by c.1930. Similarities in size, scale, and materials and a generally uniform setback meld the buildings into a cohesive streetscape. The Station Avenue Business District includes both buildings that are examples of formal architectural styles, including Georgian Revival and Tudor Revival, and others that are basic commercial types with some decorative features influenced by the vocabulary of formal styles. The original passenger station, a Queen Anne building erected in 1890, and the freight station, constructed c.1900, survive in the Station Avenue Business District and provide evidence of the railroad's importance to the town. Many of the buildings were altered or enlarged during the district's period of significance, reflecting the growth of the surrounding residential areas in the early decades of the 20th century and the increased demand they generated for shops and services. Particularly notable among the alterations is the early Art Deco style storefront detailing of Carrara glass added to the building at 614 Station Avenue c.1930. Despite some modern alterations, usually to storefronts, and a limited amount of new construction (four buildings since World War II), the Station Avenue Business District retains its historic character.
Haddon Heights is one of many suburbs that were created in Camden County in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For the most part, these communities attracted middle-class families, in the majority of which the wage-earner commuted by railroad, trolley, or automobile to work in Camden or Philadelphia. In each community a business district quickly grew up to provide stores, services, and professional offices necessary to support the surrounding residential areas. The relation between the communities and their business areas was a symbiotic one; convenient local stores and shops helped attract residents to the new towns, and the growing population in turn provided an increased market for goods and services that spurred development within the commercial areas. In comparison with the commercial areas of neighboring suburbs, for example Collingswood, Audubon, and Merchantville, the Station Avenue Business District is smaller and more cohesive, and overall retains a higher degree of integrity.
The Station Avenue Business District is also significant when examined only in the context of Haddon Heights. The district functioned as the business center for the town from the time of its founding through the period of its historic development. Although in recent years stores and businesses have spread along White Horse Pike north and south of its intersection with the district, the two blocks of Station Avenue between White Horse Pike and Seventh Avenue retain their identity as the commercial core of the town.
Although settlement in the locale that would eventually become Haddon Heights began near the end of the 17th century, the area remained essentially rural until the last years of the 19th century. Over the intervening years a transportation network grew up which would play an important role in the development of Haddon Heights. The King's Highway, a former Indian trail, had already become a major road by the end of the 17th century. Blackwoodtown Road (now Black Horse Pike) was created in 1795. In 1801, the Camden Long-A-Coming Road (now White Horse Pike) was constructed, linking the town of Camden with the hamlet of Long-A-Coming (now Berlin), several miles to the southeast. Clements Bridge Road was laid out in 1806. In the 1850s, both the Blackwoodtown and Long-A-Coming Roads became turnpikes.
The railroad arrived during the 1870s, when the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railroad completed its line to the New Jersey shore. Its track ran parallel to and west of the White Horse Pike. In 1889 the Reading Railroad absorbed the Philadelphia and Atlantic City along with several other lines; as part of the upgrading that followed, the line was double-tracked in 1890. Access to the railroad and to a network of major roads for vehicular traffic, in combination with the natural advantages of high ground only a few miles from Camden and Philadelphia made the site of Haddon Heights an ideal location for suburban development.
The first steps in the creation of the new community and of its business area along Station Avenue were also taken in 1890, when Benjamin Lippincott, who owned a sizable farm that was crossed by the railroad right-of-way, constructed a passenger rail station on his property. That same year, Lippincott filed a subdivision map for a community that he proposed to call "Prospect Ridge." His plan called for two broad avenues, East and West Atlantic, running parallel to and either side of the railroad tracks. To the east of the railroad and also parallel to it, Lippincott envisioned five residential avenues, numbered First through Fifth. The proposed Fifth Avenue was, in fact, Long-A-Coming Road (White Horse Pike) under a new name. Two additional avenues, Seventh and Eight, would parallel the railroad to the west. The site of the passenger station was shown on Lippincott*s plan at the northwest corner of West Atlantic Avenue and Station Avenue, the major east-west axis through the proposed town. Two lesser cross-town streets, Green and Garden, would parallel Station Avenue to the north and south respectively.
Within a short time, Lippincott sold a considerable part of his land to Charles H. Hillman, and it was Hillman who evidently installed the streets called for under the Prospect Ridge Plan. A member of one of the oldest families in the adjacent town of Haddonfield, Hillman also suggested that the new community be named Haddon Heights.
Two real estate firms would also play important roles in the creation of Haddon Heights. In 1898, Frederick Fries founded the F. Fries Company for the sale and improvement of land on the west side of the railroad line. In 1904 Clemens Titzck, Frank B. Jess, Harold Rogers, and Charles Bunting formed the Haddon Heights Real Estate Company. This firm was primarily interested in the area east of the railroad line; the company bought up all the remaining open land in that section of town in 1907 and controlled its subsequent development. (For additional information on the residential development of Haddon Heights, see White Horse Pike Residential Historic District.)
Although few buildings were erected before 1895, the development of Haddon Heights accelerated before the end of the decade. From the beginning business and commercial enterprises were concentrated along Station Avenue in the blocks between White Horse Pike and Seventh Avenue. At the center of this area lay the railroad line and the passenger station. In addition, a freight station was erected at the southwest corner of Station Avenue and West Atlantic Avenue c.1900. In 1903 trolley service was initiated; the trolley tracks paralleled the railroad right-of-way.
Haddon Heights' first important commercial enterprise was founded in 1898 when the Evaul brothers — Howard, Sherman, and Ernest — opened a grocery and general merchandise business in a building at the northwest corner of Station Avenue and White Horse Pike. The combination of quality goods, home delivery, and catalogue service offered by the Evauls proved so successful that in 1903 the brothers moved their operations to a larger store at the northeast corner of Station Avenue and East Atlantic Avenue.
In 1904 Borough of Haddon Heights was incorporated and Benjamin Lippincott was elected the first mayor. By that time a number of businesses were in operation along Station Avenue. Dr. Charles Shillito operated a pharmacy in the original Evaul store at 501 Station Avenue (northwest corner of Station Avenue and White Horse Pike). The same building also housed the post office, a telephone exchange, and the public library that had been established in 1902. To the west along the north side of Station Avenue stood a barber shop operated by Ulysses Ford, and the second Evaul store at the corner of East Atlantic Avenue. On the south side of Station Avenue in this block were Klein's Bakery (500 Station Avenue), the Thurwanger Cigar and Candy Store, and, at the corner of East Atlantic Avenue, Fredrick Fries' real estate office. To the west of the railroad line between West Atlantic and Seventh Avenues were a house and an office (north and south sides of Station Avenue respectively).
During its early years, Haddon Heights became known as a summer resort. The high elevation, natural scenery including a large lake at the west side of town, and easy access by train, trolley, or automobile combined to draw visitors from throughout the surrounding region. Three hotels were built in the community — the Maple Leaf Inn, the Homestead, and Benjamin Lippincott's Haddon Heights Inn (all located outside the business district). While some guests made extended visits, others came only for a weekend or stopped over in Haddon Heights on their way to or from the Jersey shore. The majority of the travelers reached Haddon Heights by train, and were met at the station by coaches provided by the hotels. The summer visitors generated increased business for the merchants on Station Avenue both directly and through the hotels.
Development along Station Avenue was recorded in a series of Sanborn insurance maps dated 1909, 1914, 1922, and 1927. On the 1909 map, the building at 501 Station Avenue was identified as a meat market, and a cobbler had taken over the former barber shop. The second Evaul store still occupied the building at the northeast corner of Station Avenue and East Atlantic, and a plumbing and tin shop had been erected on the next lot to the east. South of Station Avenue the bakery and real estate office still occupied the corners of the block. At the center of the block stood the Haddon Heights National Bank, which had been established c.1904 with Clemens Titzck as its first president. To the east of the bank were a paint shop and the cigar store (508-510 Station Avenue), to the west two offices (520-522). By 1909 a town hall had been constructed on the south side of Station Avenue west of the railroad (site now 608 Station Avenue); in addition to the town offices and council chamber, this building also housed the fire department, public library, and a barber shop. To the east of the town hall stood two offices and a residence.
Between 1909 and 1914 several changes occurred along Station Avenue. On the north between White Horse Pike and East Atlantic Avenue new elements included (in order west from the cobbler shop) a Chinese laundry, moving picture theatre, carpenter's shop, garage, a row of three attached, one-story shops (513-517 Station Avenue), and a three-story block (519-521 Station Avenue) containing a plumbing shop and drug store on the ground floor. In addition a large grocery had been constructed next to the Evaul general store. On the south side of Station Avenue in this block, a pair of shops had been erected at 504 and 506, offices at 518 and 524. All of the earlier buildings on both sides of the street remained in place. By 1914 the building at the northwest corner of Station Avenue and West Atlantic contained a grocery and a dry goods store. On the south side of the street, a row of four attached buildings had been constructed at 610-616, containing (ground floor, east to west) a drug store, restaurant, the post office, and a business office. By this date, in addition to its other functions, the town hall also served as headquarters for the local Masonic Lodge.
Between 1914 and 1922 only two new buildings were added to Station Avenue between White Horse Pike and East Atlantic Avenue; the carpenter's shop and garage were replaced by a larger garage, and an office was built at 528 Station Avenue. In addition, the Evaul general store was subdivided; the eastern portion remained a store, but the western section and the adjacent grocery were modified to house an auto dealership, also operated by the Evaul family. Between West Atlantic Avenue and Seventh Avenue there was a substantial amount of new construction in this period. The Fries Building (600-606 Station Avenue, southwest corner of West Atlantic Avenue) provided space for shops and a larger post office on the ground floor and offices above; its Tudor Revival design also added a distinctive architectural element to the streetscape. Stores and shops occupied the block of six attached, two-story buildings at 605-615 Station Avenue; each of the units in this row featured a polygonal bay with classical detailing. The three one-story buildings at 618, 620, and 622 Station Avenue were also built to house stores or shops.
By 1927 there had been further significant changes in the Station Avenue business area. On the north side in the first block, the movie theatre and auto dealership had each been converted into a pair of stores. On the south side of the avenue, the bakery had been converted to an office and store, the former bank to apartments. New stores had been constructed at 512 and 516 Station Avenue. In 1925 the large lot at the southeast corner of Station Avenue and East Atlantic Avenue had become the site of the new headquarters of the Haddon Heights Bank & Trust Company, successor to the Haddon Heights National Bank; its large size in comparison with most of the other buildings in the business area and its Georgian Revival design made the new bank a focal point in the Station Avenue streetscape. In the second block of the business area, one building had been added by 1927, a one-story office at 624 Station Avenue (southeast corner of Station and Seventh Avenues), and one-story additions had been constructed at the front of the row of buildings at 610-616.
The last significant elements in the streetscape of the Station Avenue business district were added c.1930. At that time, a new telephone exchange in Georgian Revival style was erected at 617 Station Avenue, and a new storefront of Carrara glass, the Station Avenue Business District's only example of the Art Deco style, was added to the store at 614 Station Avenue.
The growth of the Station Avenue Business District from 1890 through c.1930 was both a product of and a factor in the larger development of the Borough of Haddon Heights. Between 1900 and 1930, the population of Haddon Heights increased from 350 to almost 5,400 people. Over the same decades, the commercial area along Station Avenue also grew steadily as new businesses were established to provide the goods and services the town required. In a 1931 publication celebrating the 250th anniversary of Camden County, the author commented on the expansion of Haddon Heights "from a little scattered settlement of a quarter-century ago to one of the most desirable residence communities in all South Jersey." He identified Station Avenue as "the main business thoroughfare" in the town and noted "the mass of traffic which is drawn to this shopping center daily."
Because all of the land within the Station Avenue National Register district was developed during its period of significance, new construction has required the demolition of existing buildings. The most serious loss was the replacement of the historic town hall by a new public library in the 1960s. (The new town hall, built at the northeast corner of Station and Seventh Avenues, has been excluded from the boundaries of the Station Avenue Business District). Other buildings demolished were the shops created from the former movie theatre, which gave way to a new Masonic Hall (507 Station Avenue) completed c.1980, and the store and auto dealership that grew out of the Evaul general store and grocery, now the site of a small commercial block (531 Station Avenue) and the S.H. Fastow Store (523 Station Avenue). It should be noted that the front elevation of the Fastow Store is composed of structural glass, the only example of its kind among the commercial buildings in Haddon Heights. Although constructed in the late 1940s, and therefore outside the period of significance for the business district, the Fastow store should be examined when it has reached the age of fifty years to determine whether it might be individually eligible for National Register listing.
Although some of its original buildings have disappeared, the Station Avenue Business District has, on the whole, retained the character of a commercial area dating from the late 19th through the early 20th century. Both the passenger and freight stations remain to illustrate the importance of the railroad in the development of the business district and the surrounding town. Major architectural elements, including the Fries Building and the Haddon Heights Bank & Trust Company, are intact. While many of the remaining buildings have undergone alteration, usually of the storefronts, collectively they compose a streetscape with sufficient integrity to convey a strong sense of time, place, and historic function.
"Portions of Center & Haddon Townships Which Were Later to Become Haddon Heights, 1877" (Haddon Heights: Robertson & Johnson, Borough Engineers, 1976).
"Borough of Haddon Heights, 1904" (Haddon Heights: Robertson & Johnson, Borough Engineers, 1976).
Sanborn Insurance Map Series, "Haddon Heights, N.J." (New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1909, 1914, 1922, and 1927).
Paul F. Cranston, Camden County, 1681-1931; Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary (Camden: Camden County Chamber of Commerce, 1931), p. 115.
Cranston, Camden County, p. 116.
Bicker, Francis R. "Haddon Heights: A History." Typescript in files of the Haddon Heights Public Library, 1976.
Cook, George W. and William J. Coxey. Atlantic City Railroad, The Royal Route to the Sea. Oaklyn, N.J.: West Jersey Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, 1980.
Cranston, Paul F. Camden County 1681-1931; Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary. Camden: Camden County Chamber of Commerce, 1931.
Eighth Graders of Haddon Heights Jr. High School. Haddon Heights, An Historical Album. Cherry Hill: Haddon Heights School Board, 1976.
Haddon Heights Public Library. "History of Haddon Heights." Typescript in files of the Haddon Heights Public Library, 1950.
Heston, Alfred M. South Jersey; A History, 1664-1924. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1924.
Titzck, Clemens, Jr. "Seventy Years Ago." Audubon and Haddon Heights Weekly Visitor, December 31, 1970.
Yorke, David A., Jr. "Materials Conservation for the Twentieth Century: The Case for Structural Glass." Association for Preservation Technology Bulletin 13, No. 3 (1981):18-29.
"Portions of Center & Haddon Townships Which Were Later to Become Haddon Heights, 1877." Map prepared by Robertson & Johnson, Borough Engineers, Haddon Heights, N.J., 1976.
"Borough of Haddon Heights, 1904." Map prepared by Robertson & Johnson, Borough Engineers, Haddon Heights, N.J., 1976.
"Map Showing Tract Owned By Haddon Heights Real Estate Co." Haddon Heights, N.J., 1905.
Sanborn Insurance Maps, Haddon Heights, N.J. Sanborn Map Company, 1909, 1914, 1922 and 1927.
† Polly A. Matherly, Heritage Studies, Inc., Station Avenue Business District, Camden County, New Jersey, nomination document, 1988, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.