Revolutionary War-era house gets new spot. Now, where's the money to move it?
New Jersey says there's no deadline to demolish house endangered by the I-295 and Route 42 re-alignment project
A potential new home has been found for a Revolutionary War-era farmhouse in Bellmawr that stands in the path of the I-295 and Route 42 realignment project.
"It's a perfect spot," said Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek, describing a municipally owned parcel of land along Anderson Avenue.
The new site is close to recreational facilities, a school, and a parking lot, and is only a few blocks from the current location of the Hugg-Harrison-Glover house.
"I think we would maintain it as an [attraction] for visitors," the mayor says, adding, "it's something we would be proud to say is in Bellmawr."
The cost of moving and maintaining the quaint, patterned-brick structure has been estimated at $400,000. The borough has applied for a $50,000 Camden County grant that by itself "won't save the house," said Freeholder Jeff Nash.
Bellmawr "would have to put together the [rest of] the funds," in order for the county to award the $50,000, he added.
Long used as the administrative office of St. Mary's Cemetery, the house is perched on a precipice overlooking the $900 million Direct Connection project, which aims to straighten out the serpentine confluence of 295 and 42 where they meet I-76.
Contrary to some media reports, "there has never been a deadline" to demolish the house, said Stephen Schapiro, communications director for the N.J. Department of Transportation, which owns it.
Two centuries ago, the house was owned by William Harrison, who commanded a Colonial militia involved in skirmishes with British troops on the property. The Marquis de Lafayette also fought in a 1777 battle there.
An evaluation made in the mid-2000s as part of the Direct Connection planning process concluded the house lacked historical significance. But preservationists and others have since rallied to save it; U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D., N.J.) also has publicly called for preserving the house.
"We're in full support of the [proposed] site," said Chris Perks, president of the Camden County Historical Society. "It would be an excellent location."
Said videographer Adin Mickle, "Bellmawr proposing a site is a turning point in the [preservation] effort. We aren't out of the woods yet, but it feels like a great leap forward."