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White Horse Pike Residential Historic District


The White Horse Pike Residential Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. 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 White Horse Pike Residential Historic District encompasses the heart of the eastern residential section of Haddon Heights. It is a good example of the bedroom commuting suburbs developed from the 1890s through about 1915 in the Philadelphia-Camden area. Its location along railroad tracks and major arteries graphically documents the importance of transportation improvements to the development of the twentieth-century suburb. Haddon Heights was planned and built to attract middle-class families from Camden and Philadelphia. It remains distinctive for its broad avenues, large lots, green lawns, and its variety of late-Victorian and early twentieth century detached houses.

Historical Background

Camden County east of the city of Camden remained rural from its initial settlement through the late nineteenth century. The locale that became Haddon Heights was first settled at the close of the seventeenth century by families who came from Flushing, New York. They included the families of John Hinchman, John Glover, and John Thorne, who bought farms fronting along the King's Highway, a major seventeenth century road that linked the Delaware River towns of Salem, Gloucester City, and Burlington.

In 1801, the White Horse Pike was constructed, linking the town of Camden with a hamlet called Long-A-Coming (now Berlin) several miles to the southeast. Five years later Clement's Bridge Road (now the southern boundary of the Borough of Haddon Heights) was built. In 1807, Nathaniel Lippincott bought much of the Hinchman farm, and from it established farms for his sons. Benjamin Lippincott, one of Nathaniel's descendants, later took an active role in promoting the village of Haddon Heights.

From the 1830s through the 1860s, the civil jurisdiction of the area changed several times. Throughout the colonial period and into the twentieth century, the site of Haddon Heights was split between two townships, Gloucester and Newton. The line between them ran in an easterly direction, crossing the White Horse Pike about midway between the King's Highway and Clement's Bridge Road. In 1831, the area south of this line was ceded to Union Township. In 1855, it became part of Centre Township, which was created from a part of Union. The land north of the township boundary became part of Haddon Township when Newton Township was divided in 1865. County jurisdiction changed in 1844, when Camden County was created from the northern half of Gloucester County.

The genesis of the modern Borough of Haddon Heights occurred during the 1870s, when the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railroad completed its line to the New Jersey shore. Its track was parallel to and west of the White Horse Pike. Benjamin Lippincott, who owned a sizable farm that was crossed by the right-of-way, built a railroad station in 1876. This station promoted interest in the location as a residential area. In 1889, the Reading Railroad absorbed the Philadelphia and Atlantic City along with several other lines, and during the upgrading that followed, the line was double-tracked in 1890.

Benjamin A. Lippincott, who later became the town's first postmaster and mayor, initiated the community's development about 1890. He filed a subdivision map for a community that he proposed to call "Prospect Ridge." His plan called for two broad avenues, East Atlantic and West Atlantic, running parallel to and either side of the railroad. Station Avenue, at a right angle to the railroad, would become the major east-west axis through the town. The original station is shown on the plan at the northwest corner of West Atlantic and Station Avenues. Two lesser crosstown avenues, Green and Garden, would run parallel to Station Avenue. To the east of the railroad, Lippincott envisaged five residential avenues numbered First through Fifth, running parallel to the railroad. Two additional avenues, Seventh and Eighth, paralleled the railroad to the west. The White Horse Pike was designated Fifth Avenue. The King's Highway, which occupied the northerly edge of the subdivision, was designated Main Street. Thus, all of the land in the White Horse Pike Residential Historic District north of Garden Street would have been included in Lippincott's projected community.

About the same time Lippincott proposed Prospect Ridge, he sold much of his land to Charles H. Hillman, the builder who evidently installed the streets called for under the Prospect Ridge plan. Hillman, however, a member of one of Haddonfield's oldest families, suggested that the community be named Haddon Heights. Although Hillman built few houses before 1895, development accelerated before the end of the decade. Within the White Horse Pike Residential Historic District, some of the houses that Hillman built were located along East Atlantic and Fourth Avenues. They are chiefly in the Queen Anne style, and they occupy some of the widest lots in the subdivision. The best evidence of Haddon Heights' growth in these years, however, is the rapid increase of its commercial enterprises, community organizations and civic institutions. The Evaul family opened the community's first grocery store at the corner of Station Avenue and the White Horse Pike in 1898. Other stores soon followed. The Haddon Heights Baptist Church and the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church were organized about 1900. The population that year reached 350. The First Presbyterian Church and the public library were organized in 1902. The first trolley made its appearance in 1903.

In 1904, the Borough of Haddon Heights was incorporated by the New Jersey legislature. Its incorporation removed the old township boundary line that had split the community. The borough extended from King's Highway on the north to Clements Bridge Road on the south, and from east of First Avenue to west of Tenth Avenue. That year, the first public school was opened, the first local newspaper was begun, and the local fire company was organized. In addition, four community residents, Clemens Titzck, Frank B. Jess, Harold Rogers, and Charles Bunting, formed the Haddon Heights Real Estate Company. By 1907, this company acquired all of the remaining undeveloped land in the borough east of the railroad. Land south of Garden Street was subdivided. The north-south avenues, First through East Atlantic Avenue, were extended to Clements Bridge Road. While the company retained in its new building lots the 200-foot depth that had become standard through the Prospect Ridge subdivision, it varied the width of its lots to suit the needs of a wide variety of buyers. Lots varied from a maximum of 100 feet wide adjacent to Garden Avenue, to a minimum of 45 feet wide near Clements Bridge Road.

The Haddon Heights Real Estate Company emphasized its willingness to build homes tailored to the needs and tastes of the purchaser. Prices were moderate, ranging at first between $3,000 and $5,000. These prices permitted Haddon Heights to attract middle class families from the city. Although some houses after 1920 cost more than $6,000 due to a general increase in prices, these houses were still affordable by the middle class.

The architecture of the White Horse Pike Residential Historic District reflects the popular styles that prevailed in the United States from the 1890s through the 1920s. There was a succession of styles, which to some extent incorporated simplification of detailing and the standardization of exterior forms that were major trends in housing throughout the country during the first quarter of the 20th century. Each step resulted in reduction of the amount of applied exterior detail. The Queen Anne houses of the 1890s were followed between about 1900 and 1907 by Colonial Revival houses with vestigial traces of Queen Anne detailing. Toward the end of the first decade and into the second, new houses in the district exhibited an evolution within Colonial Revivalism away from Queen Anne vestiges toward the American Foursquare style, in which the facade was flattened and irregularities of plan reduced, and fenestration regularized. Occasional influences of the Craftsman style can be seen. Bungalows also became popular. Consisting of only a story-and-a-half, these houses embodied a further reduction of cost and maintenance requirements from their two-story predecessors. In addition, most of the bungalows in the White Horse Pike Residential Historic District were built on the smaller lots. Such houses were easier to keep clean than Victorian houses had been. While the large houses of the 1890s probably were designed to facilitate the work of servants, the later, smaller houses were built for families without servants. In these families, the wife was responsible for maintaining a clean home. In the 1920s, a somewhat different form of Colonial Revival became popular, including the central hall house, and the Dutch Colonial with gambrel roof. These tend to be more capacious than the bungalows.

In addition to middle-class housing, Haddon Heights provided the cultural and civic amenities and the social environment that middle-class families wanted. The Haddon Heights Real Estate Company extensively advertised the community's "high altitude, natural drainage, convenient location, transportation facilities, free circulating public library, good stores, churches, and schools, pleasing social life of 1,500 residents...and fully-equipped fire departments."[1] Other local boosters concurred. According to another real estate agency, Haddon Heights was the finest residential area between Camden and Atlantic City. Social homogeneity may have been a further attraction. Haddon Heights also possessed a "100 percent English-reading population of the kind of people you like to know."[2] A school paper adopted the motto: "Haddon Heights: Homes, Health, Happiness."[3]

Implicit in this motto was a strong desire for public healthfulness, sanitation, and cleanliness. The lofty topography of the town, its wide and well-shaded lawns, and its spacious streets appealed to middle-class urbanites who were unable to afford as much space or the same quality of housing within the city limits of Camden or Philadelphia. Haddon Heights was described as enjoying "all the seclusion of a much more remote suburban town coupled with the city conveniences of the metropolitan region embracing it."[4] The town also boasted fine public sanitation systems. Its water and sewer systems were among the most advanced in New Jersey. The sewage treatment plant (outside the district) was first built in 1911, was then thoroughly upgraded and enlarged in 1923, then was fully reconstructed in 1928. Cleanliness, neatness, and durability characterized the streets, which were all repaved with concrete, asphalt, or macadam during the 1920s.

A large part of Haddon Height's appeal lay in its convenient transportation facilities. For commuting to work or for excursions to the seashore, the railroad was an essential feature. The trolley, which served the community from 1903 through 1937, was Public Service's line from the Ferry Street terminal in Camden to Clementon. During the 1920s, dozens of buses also served the town. After 1900, the automobile played an increasing role in the community. A large proportion of the houses in the White Horse Pike Residential Historic District were built with detached garages. The first automobile dealership in town opened about 1903, selling Willys Overlands. About 1904, one local developer offered to sell as a package "a five-room house, a garage, a one-half-acre lot, six tons of coal, and an Overland car," all for $3,975.[5] The White Horse Pike and Kings Highway became major automobile routes during the early twentieth century.

The eastern portion of Haddon Heights, including the White Horse Pike Residential Historic District, was fully developed by about 1925. Much of the housing built in the early 1920s was probably developed in anticipation of the opening of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, then under construction between Philadelphia and Camden. Its completion in 1926 led to a dramatic increase among residents who commuted by automobile to work in Philadelphia. It also led to suburban residential growth in adjacent communities. The Boroughs of Audubon to the west and Barrington to the east were incorporated in 1905 and 1917 respectively, and as automobile traffic increased, residential development in these municipalities gradually eliminated the open land that had existed adjacent to Haddon Heights. Today, Camden County east of the City of Camden is fully developed; however, the architecture and the sense of spaciousness that made Haddon Heights a model early-twentieth century middle-class suburb, remain evident in the streets and houses of the district.

Endnotes

[1]Quoted in Research and Archaeological Management, Haddon Heights, Historic Sites Inventory (Cultural resource survey report submitted to the Office of New Jersey Heritage, September 1986).

[2]Paul F. Cranston, Camden County 1681-1931; Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary (Camden: Camden County Chamber of Commerce, 1931), p.115.

[3]Eighth Graders of Haddon Heights Jr. High School, Haddon Heights, An Historical Album (Cherry Hill: 1976), p.20.

[4]Cranston, Camden County, p.115.

[5]Eighth Graders, Haddon Heights, an Historical Album, p.1.

References

Bicker, Francis R. "Haddon Heights: A History." Typescript in files of Haddon Heights Public Library, 1976.

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.

Gowans, Alan. The Comfortable House; North American Suburban Architecture, 1890-1930. Cambridge, Ma.: MIT Press, 1986. 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.

McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

Prowell, George R. The History of Camden County. Philadelphia: L. J. Richards & Co., 1886.

Stevenson, Katherine C. and H. Ward Jandl. Houses By Mail. Washington, D.C.: The Preservation Press, 1986.

Stickley, Gustav. The Best of Craftsman Homes. Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1979.

Titzck, Clemens, Jr. "Seventy Years Ago." Audubon and Haddon Heights Weekly Visitor, December 31, 1970.

Wright, Gwendolyn. Building the Dream. New York: Pantheon Books, 1981.

† Polly A. Matherly, Associate Director, Heritage Studies, Inc., White Horse Pike Residential Historic District, Camden County, New Jersey, nomination document, 1987, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

White Horse Pike Residential Historic District Map

Street Names
4th Avenue • Atlantic Avenue East • Route 30 • White Horse Pike

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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