Friday, November 30, 2012

What's Old is New! Celebrating Our 1st Year.

The Village Green Preservation Society celebrates its first year!

We've had over 8,500 page views so far, which isn't bad for a small blog that has never really advertised the fact that it even exists, but to help increase awareness of our city's proud history and bright future I have decided (with the nudging of Jacqualynn Knight) to create a Facebook page for the society. Visit http://www.facebook.com/VillageGreenPreservationSociety and feel free to LIKE away and spread the word.

It has been a great year overall for Woodbury regarding historic preservation although anyone who has even a remote interest in historic architecture knows that these precious resources seem to vanish all the time. Over the past 365 days we have seen the demise of a few properties. Firstly, the Thompson Grocery Store circa 1892 was lost to fire, the owner barely escaping with his life; the property had been individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We also lost the circa 1803 Myrtle Grove Toll House, formerly of 138 Delaware Avenue, to damaging winds from Tropical Storm Irene. The Toll House was at one time owned by both the Twells and the Whitall families and served as a gate house to collect tolls for stagecoaches en route to the Delaware River to ferry over to Philadelphia. It was also decided WITHOUT the consultation or approval of the Woodbury Historic Preservation Commission or the Planning/Zoning board that the Bottom Dollar developers could tear down two properties on High Street for more parking for their budget grocery. Both houses were already moved from their original locations on Broad Street in the 1940's. One of them is the circa 1850 Jacob Glover house, the same Glover in which the road is named after... do we need to change the name of the road now since we do not care enough to keep his house around?

But let us not harp on the negatives as the positives far outweigh them. We have seen some excellent advances citywide. Here are a few:

1. New Clock
Without the use of any tax payer money a new clock was purchased from donations and installed on the corner of Railroad Ave and Cooper St. It looks great!

corner of Cooper and Railroad in Woodbury NJ. G. G. Green's Carriage House in background
photo from the City of Woodbury's Facebook page

2. Refurbished Clock
The First National Bank of Woodbury which once sat at the corner of Cooper St and Broad St had its clock restored. G. G. Green was a former director.

the original First National Bank and Trust Co Clock in Woodbury, NJ.

3. Fall Arts Fest
The 1st annual Fall Arts Fest which brought an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 folks to the area from regions far and wide debuted at the end of September, 2012. Deemed a success by all, this gathering set the bar for all future events in town and was remarkably conceived, organized and ran by volunteers! Visit http://fallartsfest.blogspot.com

aerial shot of the 1st annual Woodbury, NJ Fall Arts Festival
photo from the Woodbury Fall Arts Festival's Facebook page

4. Broad Street Traffic Calming Project
Completed early November, four lanes of pretty intense traffic down to two, slows down traffic and makes pedestrianism and biking safer and friendlier. It also increases storefront visibility and awareness for motorists. Curb bump-outs and better crosswalks makes crossing the street easier. Part of the NJDOT's Complete Streets Initiative: http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/about/press/2012/051512cs.shtm
4 lanes (large box) down to 2 (inset) from
NJDOT website.

5. G. G. Green Opera House Block Restoration
After years of vacancy, neglect, and an unusual earthquake that (mildly) shook the area, the future looked dim for this 1880 Victorian Opera House. Even the Department of Environmental Protection green-lighted the demolition of the National Register of Historic Places listed building. It was a veritable Christmas miracle when RPM announced in December 2011 that they were interested in the building and took action to secure it. The building as of November 2012 is in a half-gutted state, but it already looks better than it has in many, many years.

This is just the beginning...

6. New Tour Booklet
Through the unprecedented cooperation from the City of Woodbury, Woodbury Public Library, Gloucester County Historical Society, Main Street Woodbury, Woodbury Historic Preservation Commission, Woodbury Olde City Restoration Committee (WORC), and the Gloucester County Cultural and Heritage Commission a new full color "walking" Historic Tour Booklet was produced. Researched by yours truly and graphically designed by Jacqualynn Knight, the booklet can be picked up for free at various locations throughout the city (library, city hall, historical society library, etc.)

the Green Family history centerfold of the new Woodbury NJ historic walking tour booklet

7. New Art Gallery
Opening just days ago, the Tria Art Gallery features various media works such as oil, watercolor, pottery, glass work, sculpture, and more. Housed in an early 20th Century Colonial Revival located at 67 Cooper Street, it's sure to attract much interest! LIKE them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TriaArtGallery

photo from Tria Art Gallery's Facebook page

8. New Art Supply Store
There is a definite buzz downtown. With all the positive momentum recently, it really seems poised to make a turnaround. Rumors of potential shops opening are making the rounds, some more definite than others. One that is set to open soon is a new art supply store which will be located next door to the venerable Woodbury Antique Center! This is exactly the sort of thing that could potentially change the downtown game for good.

Photoshop mock-up of proposed signage for new art store
 
9. New Art Studio
The Blue Heron Studios has set up shop on the 2nd floor of 70 S. Broad and will feature Art classes, art experiences, group sessions, private lessons, etc., for both children and adults. To celebrate the arrival of the Studio, there will be Free Family Art Events in December. For more information on upcoming events visit: http://www.meetup.com/Woodbury-Creative-Hearts/


Let's keep the momentum running!



2 comments:

Jacks said...

wow

Scott S. Drake said...

Great job...enjoy this blog very much and pass it on to friends and family that have connections to Woodbury. You have done some wonderful research into what Col. Green did in Woodbury and that is my focus as well, but I have also been very interested...because of this blog site...into all the other great things the community is doing and preserving. Good luck and if I can help, let me know.
Scott S. Drake