VIDEO: Camden County Residents Fight for Historic HousePosted:
BELLMAWR - Local Bellmawr residents are upset that the oldest buildings still standing in Camden County could be gone before they know it.
“This is historically significant, you know, there’s no question about it,” said Margaret Westfield, Historical Architect.
Westfield checked out the Hugg-Harrison-Glover Home and realized it once housed some of the original developers of the area. When she learned it was planned to be knocked down to make room for a sound wall as part of the Direct Connection construction, she contacted the State Historic Preservation Office to consider it as a historical building.
“They went back and they determined, yes, in fact, it is historically significant, it is register eligible, it should have been reviewed back in 2004 the right way, but it wasn’t,” said Westfield.
Now, years later, the Department of Transportation owns the property, after buying it from the Diocese of Camden, who says they were promised a new building on the cemetery.
“I was devastated when I got a copy of the letter that said that no, the DOT was not going to save it," said Westfield. "That was not the result I was hoping for.”
While the construction for the 295 Direct Connection is well underway, one of the original house owner’s relatives, who is still in the area, says he respects the construction, but wishes that his family traditions stay put.
“We’re part of the community and we always will be," John Wachter, Grandson of one of the original owners of house. "We don’t want to inhibit growth for what needs to be done, but if there’s an alternative, we’d really like to take a good hard look at the alternative to keep the property.”
Wachter is the grandson of the man who was hired by the Diocese to lay down the cemetery that is still used in Bellmawr, and Wachter’s father and nine siblings were raised in the home. Because they no longer have ownership of the house, the family didn’t find out about the construction until recently, but would like to find a way to save it.
“While it’s important for the Diocese of Camden to do their business side of it, I think it’s important from a family stand point that we get an opportunity to have some input on what we’d like to see done with the property," said Wachter.
SNJ Today Reporter Nina Baratti reached out to the Department of Transportation, but did not hear back. With community members getting more involved with saving the home, Westfield and Wachter hope that the home can remain standing.
SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source based in Millville, New Jersey that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.