Last minute efforts are underway to try and save Bellmawr’s historic Hugg-Harrison-Glover House from impending demolition. The Camden County Historical Society hopes to save the house by having it moved approximately 100 feet out of the path of demolition. The house is located on the property of St. Mary’s Cemetery, which is owned by the Diocese of Camden. The house is situated directly in the right of way line for the ongoing New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) I-295/I-76/Route 42 Direct Connection project.
The Camden County Historical Society is behind the efforts in trying to saving the house, which has significant ties to the American Revolution and plays an important part in Bellmawr’s history.
Previous studies on the house stated: “The Harrison Glover House was recommended not eligible for listing in the National Register due to its lack of architectural integrity and subsequent inability to convey its historical and architectural significance.” (Historic Architectural Resources Technical Environmental Study, Volume I, August 2006, page 207)
Last week, Chris Perks, the president of the board of trustees of the Camden County Historical Society, met with Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek and the members of council to ask for their support in saving the house.
Perks was joined by Garry Stone, a retired archaeological historian who has researched the Revolutionary War and the house’s involvement in it. He gave a presentation to the mayor and council about Bellmawr in the American Revolution.
Stone said of the findings that stated the house did not fit the criteria. “To be polite, it was a flawed evaluation of the house.”
He further elaborated:
To find a building eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, it must have significance in one or more of four areas.
The National Register calls these categories “criteria.” Criterion A is an association with significant historical events. B is an association with a significant person or persons. C is architectural or aesthetic significance and D is significant information.
NJDOT and its consultant architectural historian focused on criterion C, architectural merit. They found that additions had compromised the building’s architectural significance. They never seem to have considered the project historian’s research findings on the historical associations of Captain Harrison and his farms.
Criterion D: “Would study of the building yield important information?” was completely ignored.
When the initial evaluation of the house was completed May 16, 2005, the project historian had only a verbal report that Captain Harrison’s property was associated with a Revolutionary War battle.
However, by the time that NJDOT published the archaeological report in March 2006, the historian had fully fleshed out the fact that it was connected with two battles, one of which was important in the career of the Marquis de Lafayette. The architectural report on the house was not finalized until August, 2006. This new information was not considered in the evaluation of the house.
Mr. Stone has authored “Bellmawr in the American Revolution.” His updated article (below) includes maps and is published here with permission:
Bellmawr in the American Revolution (Updated 3/1/2016) * (Correction by Garry Stone on page 8 to indicate that the Loyalist rising was in 1778, not 1777)
Mayor Filipek stated at the caucus meeting that Bellmawr would support the cause, but stressed that the residents of Bellmawr could not be expected to pay to relocate the house.
Filipek added that he has tried in the past to help save the house. When the pastor of Bellmawr Baptist Church, Vincent Kovlak, approached him to ask for assistance, Filipek said: “I went as far as I could to try to save the house. We signed the petition, but I was told it wasn’t a historical site,” Filipek stated.
Perks said: “All we are asking is to have Bellmawr’s support of preserving the house.”
Filipek responded: “We will gladly fight for it. I think it’s a great thing to fight for. We even had our superintendent of public works go over to see if we can move it. But it wasn’t something that we could handle.”
A Resolution pledging Bellmawr’s support for saving the house will be on council’s February 25 meeting agenda.
As for an update, Chris Perks provided the following information:
We have solicited, and will receive, a proposal from professional house movers who will give us an actual cost for the move.
We are reaching out to the Diocese in order to open a dialogue and to understand their positions.
We have been carrying on an email dialogue with the NJDOT public information office about their position and various alternatives.
The Camden County Historical Society has created a Facebook page dedicated to saving the Historic Hugg-Harrison-Glover House.
On Sunday, February 28 at 1:00 pm, there will be a meeting of all the various preservation advocacy stakeholders at the Camden County Historical Society, 1900 Park Boulevard, Camden, N.J. (on the corner of Park and Euclid). There will be a briefing of the current status of affairs as well as a round table discussion.
These photographs, maps and the descriptions were all provided by Garry Stone.
*A special thank you is extended to Garry Stone for sharing his expertise and also for authoring an article, providing documentation, maps, and photographs for such an important part of Bellmawr’s history.
Filmmaker Adin Mickle’s YouTube Video (below) added 3/4/2016:
*Article corrected on October 20, 2016 to correctly identify the official name of the NJDOT roadway project and to add the above video: “Save Hugg-Harrison-Glover House: If Walls Spoke.”
*Article updated on March 21, 2016 to include:
- A screenshot of a portion of the March 16, 2016 the Bellmawr Board of Education agenda pledging support of saving the historic Hugg-Harrison-Glover House.
- A copy of the March 21, 2016 letter of support from the United States Department of the Interior:
*Article updated on March 1, 2016 to include:
- Updated version of Garry Stone’s “Bellmawr in the American Revolution.”
- Updated Change.org petition