Thursday, May 1, 2008

Oakhurst, Salem New Jersey

Oakhurst is a lovely victorian style home that was renovated in the Colonial Revival style in the 1920s (affecting mostly the front and side porches).

It is located at 100 West Broadway in Salem, New Jersey, in the same block as the great Salem Oak. The house is privately owned (by Laura and Barry Fite) who have been restoring the home for several years, and continue to do so.

Special elements of this house include its slate tiles, mansard roof, and ornate soffit details. Inside, much of its original wordwork remains.

The house was built in 1884 for Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Bassett. Joseph's biography and family information can be found below. The original owners probably only lived in the house until 1892 when Joseph, a druggist, died.


Joseph Bassett, was the son of William & Abigail (Hazelton) Bassett and was born 11 Nov 1842 in Salem Co NJ; he died 24 Dec 1892. Joseph served in the Union Army during the Civil War in Co. D, 12th New Jersey Infantry. He married 9 Apr 1884 to Elizabeth Allen Griscom. When Joseph died at the age of 50, Elizabeth was a 39 year old widow with 2 children. She moved back to live with her parents, Morris & Margaret Griscom, as is evidenced in the 1900 census of Mannington Township. Elizabeth was still living in the 1910 census, in the east ward of Salem City with her two daughters, and her brother Allen Griscom. She received a pension for her husband's military service.
U.S. Census > 1880 United States Federal Census > New Jersey > Salem > Salem > District 148
Bassett William W M 77 retired merchant NJ NJ NJ [b abt 1803]
Bassett Abigail W. W F 66 wife keeping House NJ NJ NJ
Bassett Joseph W M 38 son druggist NJ NJ NJ [b abt 1842]
Bassett, S. Anna W F 31 dau assistant house keeper NJ NJ NJ
Bassett, Clara J. W F 29 dau assistant house keeper NJ NJ NJ
Bassett, Fenwick H. W M 22 son druggist clerk
Children of Joseph & Elizabeth (Griscom) Bassett (born in Salem County NJ):
(1) Clara A. Bassett, b. July 1886
(2) Margaret G. Bassett, b. May 1891

Joseph's Bassett ancestors had original arrived in colonial America around New Haven Connecticut, then lived for two generations in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. In the third generation the Bassett family married and lived in Pilesgrove, Salem County, New Hampshire, with several of the succeeding generations living in Pilesgrove, Mannington and Salem City, New Jersey.

If you are a member of, or are interested in, the Bassett family, please visit the Bassett Family Association web site.

Monday, April 14, 2008

New Jersey Historic Places in Danger

Governor Corzine's proposed Fiscal Year 2009 budget impacts history in New Jersey in a terribly negative way.

An $8.8 million reduction from the $34 million Parks Management General Fund is anticipated.Some parks and historic places are going to be closed completely.

Full elimination of services and/or closure would occur at the following areas: Monmouth Battlefield State Park; Stephens State Park (administered under Hopatcong State Park, which will remain open); High Point State Park; Brendan T. Byrne State Forest (including Indian King Tavern); Round Valley Recreation Area; Parvin State Park; Jenny Jump State Forest; Worthington State Forest; and Fort Mott (including Hancock House).

Partial elimination of services and/or closures would occur at Ringwood State Park (including reduced hours at Ringwood Manor, closure of swimming at Shepherd Lake Recreation Area & Steuben House), D&R Canal State Park (including reduced interpretive services and closure of Bulls Island Recreation Area) and Washington Crossing State Park (40 percent reduction in interpretive staff – resulting in reduced hours of operation at Clark House, Johnson Ferry House and the museum).

New Jersey's Great Northwest Skyland's website states: "Not only do the planned closures seem to fly in the face of any judicious financial planning, they seem to confict with years of open space acquistion and preservation policy. Proponents of the controversial Highlands Preservation Legislation have looked to increased recreatioinal use of natural resources in Northern New Jersey as a sustainable force in the region’s economic future. The budget proposals come in response to New Jersey’s dire fiscal crisis. Perhaps the real problem is that New Jersey citizens have for too long been paying salaries, pensions, and benefits that support an entirely inept and unaccountable system of state management. [many comments at that web site you may want to read].

The "Preservation New Jersey" message board states:"Governor Corzine's Budget Address proposes a 1/3 cut in the NJ Historical Commission's grant budget, from last year's $4 million to the $2.7 million minimum set by the "poison pill" provision of the Hotel/Motel Tax. If this proposal is allowed to stand, it will mean that all history organizations receiving General Operating Support grants will face major cuts in their funding, while the Historical Commission's ability to fund Project grants will be sharply curtailed. In addition, the Historical Commission's salary and operating budget is being reduced from $510,000 to $346,000 -- a 32%cut!

Meanwhile, the $8.7 million cuts called for in the Dept. of Environmental Protection's Parks & Forestry Division will not only result in closure of some state historic sites, but will also significantly affect the Historic Preservation Office. Currently, the State provides just enough funding to match the annual federal appropriation for mandated programs such as the National Register of Historic Places, Section 106 review and historic rehab tax credit project reviews, and the the CLG pass through grants to local preservation commissions. It appears the HPO will no longer have review of environmental permits that are not mandated by the federal government.

What can you do??

1. Contact Governor Corzine via the Office of The Governor-NJ Web site and let him know what you think about all of this!

2. Join the Rally at the Trenton State House on Wednesday, April 23rd at 12:30 PM.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Church of the Ascension, Atlantic City, New Jersey

The Church of the Ascension is located at 1601 Pacific Avenue (at the corner of Kentucky Avenue) in Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey.

This congregation organized in 1879 and incorporated as a parish in 1881. Initial construction of this church building was begun in 1893 and completed in 1900. Rev. J. Hardenbrook Townsend was rector of the church during its erection.

This unusual church's construction system includes materials such as stucco, terra cotta and brick. It was built in the Romanesque Style. This church was listed on the historic register on 24 July 1986.

This photograph is from the HABS Survey, located at American Memory, The Library of Congress.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

John Gill House aka Greenfield Hall, Haddonfield, New Jersey

Located at 343 Kings Highway in Haddonfield, New Jersey, "Greenfield Hall" was built in 1841 by John Gill (the elder, or II). It's foundation is of stone with brick exterior walls, inside brick chimneys and a pitch roof with captain's walk. John Gill resided here until his death in 1838.

During the American Revolution, the Hessian army passed through Haddonfield, and the Hessian general made this home his overnight headquarters (with his troops encamped near Hopkins Road). This property remained in the Gill family until 1914, when it was owned by several families.

When W.P. Hallinger owned it, he called it "The Boxwoods." Today it is owned by the Haddonfield Historical Society and it serves as a museum furnished with period furniture, needlework, tools, costumes, etc.

Much has been written about this building. It is listed on the National Historic Register.

Photograph from HABS 12 July 1937.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Oakford House, Alloway, New Jersey

The Oakford House was built about 1736 in Alloway, Salem County, New Jersey by William Oakford. The foundation is stone, with exterior walls of red and blue mottle brick. William Oakford was the grandson of Wade Oakford, one of the original settlers of Fenwick Colony.

The initials of the builder are on the east elevation, "W.M.O. 1736," standing for William and Mary Oakford. This was the customary practice in the Fenwick Colony. The intial of the husband was placed on the left and that of the wife on the right. This house is one of the few of its kind left in Salem County.

The lower floor is one large room with two fireplaces. The upper story has three small bedrooms; a lean-to was originally attached to the house, but was torn down.

When the British army invaded Salem County during the American Revolution, a number of refugees fled to this house to escape them. The dwelling was situated in a grove of trees, a part of the original forest. According to tradition, these refugees buried their gold and treasure in the cellar of the house and in the woods.

From this incident has come the story of the "Alloway Ghost," supposedly a continental soldier guarding the buried treasure of the refugees. Reportedly any attempt to dig in the cellar of the Oakford House has been foiled by the appearance of the ghost.

From: American Memory: HABS, with references to "History of Fenwicks Colony," by Thoumas Shourds, and "The Old Houses of Salem County," by J.S. Sickler. Jack E. Boucher, photorapher.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stockton Manor, Cape May, New Jersey

Stockton Manor was built in 1872, in the Italianate style, complete with mansard roof.

The architect was Stephen Decatur Button, who created it for "Baltimore industrialist," Henry
. In 1974 the Greotsch family opened this home as a victorian-style inn.

Henry Tatham's company, Tatham and Brother, manufactured pipes (actually lead pipes).