Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where is Lewis M. Green's house?

Sometimes I'm torn between keeping this blog non-subjective or letting my personal feelings fly. For this post, I will choose the latter. After my recent entry on the former mayor, Lewis M. Green, I received a few questions on what happened to his magnificent mansion once located on the NW corner of Barber Ave and Broad St. After some more research at the GCHS, I was shocked to discover the truth.

The Lewis M. Green mansion house, a four story residence of handmade pressed brick, featuring 10 bedrooms, walnut floors, French glass windows, gas lit crystal chandeliers, white marble steps, wrought iron trim, and formal gardens was torn down in November 1944 by the Gulf Oil Company to make room for a gas station. The Gulf Oil Company purchased the house from Maud & Lewis Lupton, niece and nephew of G.G. Green, Lewis's son, for $21,000 (about $257,425.23 by today's standard) just to tear the building down (Moore, 1988).

There are some in our midst that cannot see the value of preserving and/or adaptively reusing the wonderful resources our stock of old buildings offer. They say, "Out with the old, in with the new", never stopping to think that the "new" can be more effectively accommodated, on both an economical and environmental level, by utilizing the "old." In many cases historic preservation is a win-win situation. Firstly, these buildings are already here. The greenest building is the one already built. Secondly, more often than not, they will have been built with finer materials and offer a greater aesthetic charm than many new structures built today. As a result, they stand to be around a lot longer than newer buildings. Thirdly, these buildings tell a story and provide one with a sense of pride; a nod of recognition from whence we came. Tearing down old buildings, to me, is like admitting to the world that we cannot take care of the things we own. It shows a considerable lack of creativity when a HUGE corporation (like Gulf Oil was in the 1940's) cannot think of an alternative to obliterating a unique and stately structure; a structure that most likely could never be rebuilt in today's world and certainly could have made a valuable contribution in the city today if it had been properly utilized. The tear down approach is wasteful and it is lazy. Was there really no other location in town for a Gulf service center?

*See below for photo details. Click for larger image.
Yes, I know that sometimes an old building just has to come down. Extreme neglect, natural disasters, or an old building having no overall aesthetic character or historic significance, are a few reasons, but these do not seem to be the case in this instance. It was built by a long term mayor who spent the greater part of his life bettering the city. The whole thing just seems completely disrespectful. The mansion lasted 75 years, the gas station that replaced it, about 30, and the subsequent empty lot was vacant for a long period. The Rite Aid business that eventually replaced the gas station lasted about 20 years... are we getting the picture, yet!? We are constructing increasingly worthless buildings, housing increasingly worthless enterprises.

The City of Woodbury established the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) in 1977 to help prevent situations such as these and to better preserve the unique character of our community. The HPC page of the city's website goes on to state: In addition to preserving our rich cultural and architectural heritage for future generations, the maintenance and rehabilitation of buildings in historic districts have positive effects on the community including the stabilization of neighborhoods, retention of or increased property values, and the creation of civic pride. I couldn't agree more.

Moore, M. (1988, April) Woodbury remembers the Lewis M. Green mansion. The WORC News.
Woodbury’s historic preservation commission. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Woodbury (N.J.). (1971). Century of progress: Woodbury, N.J., 1871-1971. Woodbury, N.J: The Committee.

* The photo depicts the west side of Broad St. circa 1916 from about W. Centre St. to Barber Ave (formerly German St.) From right to left: Hattie Kirby's home, Hutchinson's Motor Company (Sears in 1971), Dr. Wilson's residence, driveway, S. Green's home, residence of Charles Moffett and Nelson Sparks, Harry Fish's Automobile Shop, Sithen's Grocery (currently Pep Boys), Bert Parks' Grocery Store (later Green's and Sithens), Adon Cattell's home and Lewis M. Green's mansion. Original photo from Century of Progress.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Woodbury Railroad Station

Woodbury's only surviving railroad station located at the corner of Railroad Ave. and Cooper St., is an example of Eastern Stick style architecture. Built in 1883, it features a hipped roof with slate shingles and decorative "stick work" shown in the exposed porch rafters. The West Jersey run depot and subsequent Woodbury Station was Woodbury's epicenter for social and economic growth. Not only did G.G. Green's endeavors, both financial and personal, find their epicenter here, but it was the site of whistle stops by the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, W.H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson (both as Gov. of NJ, and as Presidential candidate) and many others (Fahs, 2009). The Woodbury Station also served Philadelphia commuters who established homes in Woodbury's new East Side District. Vegetables from surrounding farms, manufactured goods from nearby factories, and even locally made patent medicines were shipped to market through this distinguished station. By 1917 there was more than 139 daily trains passing thru the Woodbury Train Station ("About woodbury station," 2010).

In 1996, thanks to the Woodbury Olde-City Restoration Committee and a grant from the NJ Historic Trust the station was completely restored. Nev Fahs, a Woodbury resident, local history buff and preservation carpenter had the pleasure to work on the station during this time. Fahs (2009) remarks on the condition of the building before restoration: The roof sagged and leaked, windows were broken and long painted shut, and the structure on the first floor was in danger of collapse from fatigue, rot, and water damage. The roof line of the platform apron was as wavy as spaghetti. Its condition only hinted at the glory days when G.G. Green parked his [railroad] car there, or when it was one of the quaint stops of the Cape May line, carrying Philadelphians and others to the shore every summer.

Sixteen years on, and the building still looks great. It is a testament to the lasting nature of Historic Preservation and a fine example of successful Adaptive Reuse. The building now houses a popular New Orleans cuisine style restaurant, The Woodbury Station Café. For more details (and some great stories) on the restoration work perfomed on the station see Fahs' blog HERE.

About woodbury station cafe. (2010). Retrieved from

Fahs, N. (2009, August 17). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Friday, March 2, 2012

Preservation Potentials: 108 Euclid & 78 Hunter

Attention: Victorian House Lovers, Steampunks, Anglophiles, and fellow appreciators of all things antique! I'm not sure old-house hunters outside the immediate area realize the unique architectural offerings Woodbury, NJ has in store. In some cases these houses will require a little creativity to restore them to their former glory, but most will have retained a large semblance of the magnificent days of English-inspired American architecture, for a fraction of the cost found in other areas.

Today we feature two historic houses right next to each other, both for sale. These particular buildings are listed at a higher cost than what we usually feature here for the Preservation Potentials posts, but it is not often you find restored turn-key Queen Anne Victorian houses side-by-side offered for sale. These two buildings were last used as professional offices, but both feature ample living space as well. They are located at the NE corner of Hunter St. and Euclid St., adjacent to the Gloucester County Justice Complex. As of June 30, 2013 the Gloucester County Jail has closed. No inmates of any kind are held in the Justice Complex center, making these houses even more attractive.


The Albert Dell House located at 78 Hunter is a magnificent circa 1890, 3 story Queen Anne with unique corner tower and lots of original features. In its current setup, the building contains 2 large conference rooms, reception and waiting area, kitchen and powder room on main floor; 3 large offices with plenty of closet space, copy area, and full bath on second floor; and 3 or 4 additional office spaces on third floor. Ample file storage in basement. Beautiful and original woodwork throughout. Dual staircase in front and rear of interior leading to second floor. Parking lot attached for off street parking. Nicely landscaped with sprinkler system. Security system in place. Listed HERE for $375,000 $345,000 $295,000!!



108 Euclid is a lovely 3 story Queen Anne building featuring original woodwork, inlay flooring, windows, etc throughout, with several gas and faux fireplaces. Set up as professional office, it features a large reception area, several large conference rooms and 8+ offices. There is a kitchen on the main floor and 2 kitchenettes on the second and third, with a bathroom on every level. Handicap access and modifications present. Large basement with ample file storage. Listed HERE for $550,000 $460,000 $395,000!!


It is my opinion that reviving a once grand city is a community effort that largely starts at home. Vested homeowners that value the history and heritage of their house and who treat their home as an extension of the family and not just some place to crash, can and do make a difference. Preserve the past, to better the future!