Cooper Grant Historic District

Camden City, Camden County, NJ

HomeWhats NewSite IndexContactSearch

The Cooper Grant Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡] .

The Cooper Grant Historic District includes approximately four city blocks on the south side of the elevated approach to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Camden, New Jersey. The Cooper Grant Historic District is primarily residential but does include the former North Baptist Church, the Engine Number Six Fire House, and the Cooper Library. The residences in the Cooper Grant Historic District are rowhouses and semi-detached houses, most of which date from the late nineteenth century. The buildings stand on land that the Cooper family had owned since the early eighteenth century. When the land north of Cooper Street became available, developers began to build houses northward well beyond the present Benjamin Franklin Bridge for Camden's expanding population. Industries near the Delaware River waterfront, including Esterbook Steel Pen Factory, Campbell Soup Company, and the Victor Talking Machine Company, provided much employment near the turn of the century. The Cooper Grant Historic District is near a local transportation hub; nearby ferries crossed the river from Camden to Philadelphia until 1956 even after the present bridge cut through the neighborhood and provided a modern link between the two cities. The new bridge separated the Cooper Grant Historic District from the larger neighborhood. The architecture of the Cooper Grant Historic District, a mix of Second Empire, Italianate, and Gothic, represents adaptations of popular styles of the same period. This blend of styles in an urban setting distinguishes the Cooper Grant Historic District from the surrounding area today and makes it significant as a National Register of Historic Places listing.

Background and History

The Cooper Grant Historic District covers several blocks just south of the approach to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Camden's primary link to Philadelphia. The area near the present bridge has been a transportation hub for nearly three centuries. Early roads led from the towns of South Jersey to Camden, where ferries took passengers and produce to Philadelphia, the leading city of colonial America. As the years passed, trains and automobiles replaced wagons for overland transportation, but until the building of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in 1926, ferries continued to be the only way to cross the Delaware River. The new bridge was a boon to travelers, but as many Camden residents had predicted, it took business away from their city and overwhelmed the adjoining neighborhood. Throughout the nineteenth century the Cooper Grant Historic District developed in harmony with its industrial neighbors, but in the twentieth century the bridge cut off the Cooper Grant Historic District. Now separated from the larger neighborhood, the district retains the architecture and other characteristics that convey a sense of nineteenth century Camden, New Jersey.

The Cooper Grant Historic District is generally known as the Cooper Grant Neighborhood, taking its name from the Cooper Grant School that stood on the west side of Third Street near Linden Street. The Cooper School, built in 1874, was a grammar school for girls and boys. It eventually became the Cooper Grant School when it combined with the Grant School, probably named for Ulysses S. Grant. The name Cooper comes from the Cooper family, the descendants of William Cooper, an English Quaker who settled in Camden in about 1680. The Coopers became large land owners, and many generations of them lived in Camden.

All the land north of Cooper Street, including that on which the Cooper Grant Historic District stands, was owned by William Cooper, who left it to his two sons, Daniel and Richard M. Cooper. Daniel's children Mary Ann, Abigail, and Esther subsequently inherited their father's portion. The family prohibited residential development until 1842, when their estates permitted subdivision and development, but very little development took place within the district for another three decades. Richard M. Cooper's own house and lot occupied the entire block where the former Cooper Library now stands. The estates of Richard Cooper and his niece Esther still owned a large tract of land within the district as late as 1877, when new houses occupied most of the rest of the land in the district.

There were industries, other than the ferry service operated by the Coopers, along the Delaware River near the district in the first half of the nineteenth century. William Carman, who married Daniel Cooper's daughter Mary Ann, owned a sawmill near the Delaware River between Linden and Pearl streets. There were also a cap factory and a tannery nearby.

As the population increased and the small town of Camden became a commercial center, its citizens petitioned the state legislature for incorporation as a city. When the petition was granted in 1828, the City of Camden gained a new independence, including the right to establish its own police defense against "rowdy Philadelphia visitors." The City of Camden became an increasingly strong political force in New Jersey politics and led the move to divide Gloucester County which had once stretched from the Delaware River to the Atlantic Coast. In 1844 the state legislature finally voted to create Camden County, and the following year Camden became the county seat and the most important town of the area.

Railroads first operated in Camden in 1834, and though the number of tracks to and from the city increased rapidly, ferryboats still provided the only transportation to Philadelphia. The city established a water system in 1845, acquired a new charter in 1850, and started a public school system in 1854. But in March, 1856, the tragic burning of the ferryboat "New Jersey" had a negative effect on Camden's growth and prosperity. The ferryboat caught fire, and ice in the river made it impossible to steer the boat or for rescuers to approach the burning vessel. The resulting fear of ferryboats discouraged investment in Camden, whose main advantage was its proximity to Philadelphia. From 1861 to 1865, the years of the Civil War, Camden, like other cities, was preoccupied with the war and saw few housing developments or municipal improvements.

Once the Civil War ended, Camden's industry and population continued to grow. The prewar population of the city in 1860 was 14,000. Ten years later the population jumped to 20,000 and by 1875 it leaped to 33,000. By that time housing began to appear in the Cooper Grant Historic District. By 1877, only twelve years after the end of the Civil War, most of the houses in the district were standing. There were no houses on Point Street, which was a part of the Esther L. Cooper Estate. The old Cooper Mansion was still standing on the block bounded by Front, Penn, Cooper, and Second streets, but new semidetached and rowhouses filled most of the other blocks.

Commercial developments and transportation also influenced the Cooper Grant Historic District. Local citizens decided that a bridge from Philadelphia to Camden was a necessity. Although the original bridge plans did not materialize, the incorporation of Philadelphia and Camden Bridge Company in 1869 indicated an increasing demand for a better link between the two cities. The Cooper Grant Historic District was near the old ferry crossing. The Esterbook Steel Pen Factory had been at the foot of Cooper Street since 1858. The forerunner of the Campbell Soup Company, Anderson and Campbell, was a small canning plant at 41 North Second Street. The horse car railroad or trolley also ran through the district on North Second Street.

The Hopkins Atlas of 1877 gives the names of some of the residents and property owners who lived in the Cooper Grant Historic District at that time. Charles B. Coles, a lumber merchant whose firm made doors, sash, and blinds, lived at 303 North Second Street. His house, unfortunately, is no longer standing. J.R. Bunting, an upholsterer, whose house has also been demolished, lived at 419 North Second Street.

The name E. England appears on a number of houses in the Cooper Grant Historic District, and England Place is undoubtedly named for him. Elias England, who lived with his wife at 217 Vine Street (not within the Cooper Grant Historic District), was a developer of rowhouses. Apparently he was well-known in Camden for his construction in the northern section of the city. England died in 1876 at the age of 68. Within the Cooper Grant Historic District he built the row of ten three-story Italianate houses in the 100 block of Penn Street that have stone arched lintels with keystones above the first-floor windows. England also built 119-123 Linden Street and a pair of houses at 321-323 North Second Street. England also apparently built other houses in the Cooper Grant Historic District. He purchased the lot on which 116 Linden Street stands from the Cooper executors in 1869, suggesting that he also built the row on the even side of Linden Street.

The executors of the Cooper estate often assisted builders in this area, as George Prowell explained in his History of Camden County: "Building in Camden has been greatly stimulated by the policy of the managers of the estate of Richard M., Abigail and Esther Cooper. They have advanced money to various builders for the purpose of making improvements on their property, and within the past ten years as many as seven or eight hundred houses have been erected by their aid. These are, for the most part, dwellings of the medium size, and they are mostly located in the Second and Fourth Wards, between the Delaware and Sixth Streets, and bounded north and south by Pearl and Penn Streets. Nearly all have been sold. About eighty are now in process of construction, the money employed being loaned by the estate."

A prominent nonresidential building in the Cooper Grant Historic District is the church at the northeast corner of Pearl and Second Streets. Some members of the older First Baptist Church lived near this neighborhood. Because their church was at some distance, they began to hold meetings and wished to establish a Sunday School in the vicinity of Cooper's Point. In 1857 the owner of a silk factory on the northwest corner of Front and Pearl streets offered the group a hall in his building. The Sunday School started with eighty-eight students the following year and continued for two years. Adults also started meeting at the hall and at a house on Birch Street. By 1859 the group had grown and needed more space, so the congregation built a plain rectangular one story meeting house at Elm and Second Streets and formally organized themselves as the North Baptist Church.

Reverend R.S. James, the first minister, remained until 1863, when the congregation decided to build a larger church. James then resigned and Reverend S.C. Dare oversaw the construction of the new church, which was dedicated in 1866. The gray stone building, designed in a mixture of Romanesque Revival and Gothic styles, had cost $31,100. The congregation expanded further, and in 1895 the Baptists sold the church. In 1897 it became Calvary Presbyterian Church, and Reverend Arthur Spooner, the pastor, lived at 414 North Second Street. Calvary Presbyterian Congregation subsequently sold the property when it merged with the First Presbyterian Church. The church later was the home of People's Gospel Church, Faith Baptist Church, and Victory Temple Community Church. Originally the church had a very tall spire, as shown in old photographs. What happened to the spire is unknown, but it was missing by 1916.

The census of 1880, when Camden's population was 41,000, tells a great deal about the people then living in the Cooper Grant Historic District. The majority of the residents were business people, or what we would today call white-collar workers. For example, there were several insurance agents: Frank Williams, who lived at 107 Penn Street with his wife and brother-in-law; Samuel Condit, who lived at 118 Linden Street with his wife and three children; and David Taylor, who lived at 316 North Second Street with his wife, an adult son who was also in the insurance business, and his mother. Each of these households had one white servant. Salesmen included Daniel Price, who lived at 122 Linden Street with his wife, two adult children, and one young child; Joseph Rubican, who lived at 119 Linden Street with his wife and four children; and Robert Loughlan, who lived at 117 Linden Street with his wife, four children, and an aunt. William Osborn of 121 Linden Street and Stuart Mathis of 105 Linden Street were bookkeepers.

In 1880 the people who lived in the Cooper Grant Historic District were nearly all native-born whites. The only blacks in the district were servants who worked for Mary Bryan at 109 Linden Street and Thomas Nekervis of 328 North Second Street. Having a servant in the house was much more common in 1880 than it is today. Additional people who lived in the district and had servants included John Wiers, a railroad clerk at 412 North Second Street; Josephine Browning of 418 North Second Street; Norman Shevio, a wholesale and retail tobacco merchant who lived with his wife and four children at 406 North Second Street; and Joseph Weatherby. Weatherby, who lived at 310 North Second Street with his wife and four daughters, was a partner in Derby and Weatherby, machinists located at the corner of Cooper and Delaware Streets. Oliver Terry, a cloth dealer who lived at 330 North Second Street, also had a white servant.

Many people took in boarders in the late nineteenth century in order to earn extra income. In the Cooper Grant Historic District five boarders lived with the Wishams at 414 North Second Street; three boarders lived with Jacob Rettberg, a blacksmith at 102 Linden Street; one boarder lived with William Hunterson, a sewing machine agent at 110 Linden Street; two boarders lived with Samuel Norcross (no occupation given) at 120 Linden Street; and one boarder lived with William Osborne at 121 Linden Street.

The people who lived in the Cooper Grant Historic District demonstrated a wide variety of occupations, but none were listed simply as laborer. In addition to those listed above, Thomas Holloway, a book dealer, lived at 109 Penn Street. His next door neighbor was William Landrum, a fruit dealer. John Barber, who lived at 117 Penn Street was a vinegar manufacturer. Joseph Thorn, a produce dealer, lived at 108 Linden Street; Edwin Harris, a retail grocer, lived at 101 Linden Street; and Alfred Haines, a fruit and produce commission merchant, lived at 103 Linden Street. George Smith, a paper hanger, lived at 115 Linden Street. In eight of the approximately eighty houses in the district women were the heads of the household.

By 1886, as shown on the Baist Atlas, the Cooper School was both a high school and a grammar school. By that date more houses had been built in the district, notably those in the 300 block of Point Street. These houses were probably built by the firm of Cohn and Roberts. Cohn had started in the building business in 1866, and Joseph Roberts became his partner in 1882. Together they constructed hundreds of houses.

In 1866 J. P. Weatherby, who had lived on North Second Street in 1877, still lived in the same house. John W. Praul, a partner in the carriage-building firm of W. Hunt and Company, lived at 303 North Second Street. Andrew B Frazee, superintendent of the C. & P. Ferry Company, which ran between Camden and Philadelphia, lived at 302 N. 2nd Street. In 1866 Frazee was one of the incorporators and directors of the Camden Horse Railroad. There was some difficulty in financing the horse railroad, and it is unclear whether Frazee remained as a director. In any case, the horse railroad began operation on North Second Street in 1872 and ran past Frazee's home. This house is one of the few that was demolished at the turn of the century to make room for a row of smaller houses (201-211 Penn Street).

In 1886, one of the district's most interesting residents died at 116 Linden Street. He was Dr. Reynell Coates, called by one of his biographers, a politician, poet, editor, naturalist, lecturer, and physician. Coates was born a Quaker in Philadelphia in 1802. He became a physician and was eventually the president of the Camden City Medical Society and vice-president of the Philadelphia County Medical Society. He wrote on a wide variety of topics ranging from nature to politics. It was in connection with the latter that he became involved in one of his most controversial activities, the founding of the Native American Party. Dr. Coates was one of the organizers of the party that was the result of political nativism, a strong anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant movement. Dr. Coates wrote the platform for the party's first national convention in 1845. It advocated changes in the immigration laws and special rights for native-born Americans. Coates did not move to Camden until 1847, but he remained an active member of the Native American Party for some time. After arriving in Camden he moved a number of times. During his years in Camden he was not only active in the medical society, he was also a force in securing a good water supply for the city and was the founder of a library society that was the forerunner of the Free Library. He died at 116 Linden Street on April 17, 1886, having lived in the rented house for only a short time.

By the turn of the century there were a few changes in the neighborhood. Most city officials came to believe that parks were necessary for their citizens. Following the philosophy of Frederick Law Olmsted, the nation's leading landscape architect, cities began establishing large parks in an effort to bring the benefits of the countryside to city residents. Camden's efforts seem rather small and late in comparison to those of other cities. In 1895 the city council approved $75,000.00 for the purchase of the block where the old Cooper Mansion stood to be used as a public park. While this small square would not permit long walks, drives, or landscaping with the contour of the land, it was a beginning of a park system.

The city did not raze the mansion but used it for its first free library starting in 1898. In 1905 the city built a new main library at Broadway and Line Street. After remodeling, the Cooper Mansion became the Cooper Branch Library and reopened in 1907. However, the search for public open spaces and park areas was by far outpaced by the search for land to be used by growing industries.

Filling operations had created more land along the waterfront east of Delaware Street and more industries located there. The Victor Talking Machine Company started when Eldridge Reeves Johnson purchased an existing machine shop in 1894 very near the Cooper Grant Historic District. This firm evolved into RCA Victor and has for many years been a strong presence near the historic district. Further away from the district, but important to all of Camden's economy, was the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, which located on the Delaware in 1899. A small metal factory, belonging to Forbush and Son, operated on Front Street between Penn and Linden. The Ruby Match Company opened just outside the district on Delaware Street between Penn and Linden. The principal officers of the firm, W.B. Clark and Charles F. Keller, both lived in Philadelphia. They chose not to live near their factory, perhaps because of the dangerous nature of their business. Not only could matches cause a fire, but the phosphorus that went into their manufacture could cause phosphorus necrosis, an incurable and deadly disease.

The atlas of 1902 also shows that David Baird owned property in and near the Cooper Grant Historic District. Although Baird, one of Camden's most influential political figures, did not live in the district, the fact that he owned property there and operated his business nearby had some impact on the neighborhood. Prowell's History of Camden County, New Jersey, describes Baird in a totally complimentary way, probably because Baird was still alive in 1886 when the book was published. Authors writing after Baird's death were less flattering. According to Prowell, David Baird, born in 1839 in County Derry, Ireland, was of Scotch-Irish ancestry. He immigrated to Baltimore as a youth and "speedily engaged in labor on a farm, meanwhile improving his education by study and acquiring habits of observation and reflection which proved of great value in afterlife." In 1859 he worked for a lumber company in Philadelphia. He established his own timber and spar business at the foot of Pearl Street on the Delaware River in 1872. He was able to expand his business by buying large tracts of timberland in the surrounding states of Pennsylvania, New York, and West Virginia. Baird, a Republican, was a member of the Board of Chosen Freeholders for four years but held no other elective office.

Dorwart and Mackey in their History of Camden County (1976) supply many more details about Baird's career. After the Civil War, William Joyce Sewell became prominent in New Jersey politics and was elected to the United States Senate. David Baird ran Sewell's county political organization. Baird was a member of the syndicate that owned the local electric company, a director of the Pennsylvania Railroad, an owner of ships that carried coal to warships during the Spanish-American War, and a leader of the Camden Republican Club. As Dorwart and Mackey explain, at the turn of century the Progressives and Democrats considered Baird to be "the epitome of boss politics and the Camden Republican organization the worst example of a political machine." Baird was a controversial character who dominated politics in Camden in the early twentieth century.

The U.S. manuscript census of 1900 shows that the residents of the neighborhood had changed somewhat from earlier days. Tenants occupied all of the houses on Point Street. These houses had not even existed in 1880. Most of the houses on Front and Penn streets were also tenant-occupied, while owners occupied about half the houses on Linden and Second streets. This indicates that some of the residents probably had lower incomes than those of two decades earlier, but something else had also happened. The population of the Cooper Grant Historic District was no longer almost exclusively native-born. In the 300 block of Point Street lived immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Austria, and England. Front Street had a similar mix, and three houses on Penn Street were the homes of immigrants. The few immigrants who lived on Linden and Second Streets owned their own houses.

More people lived in the Cooper Grant Historic District in 1900 than had lived there in 1880, not only because there were additional houses, but also because more people lived in individual houses. For example, seventeen people lived in the house which no longer stands at 400 Front Street. Ten of the occupants were boarders. In 1900, there were still a great number of boarders in the district. In many cases the boarders were immigrants. Such an arrangement was not unusual, for newly arrived immigrants frequently boarded with a family before they were able to establish their own household. In addition to boarders, there were members of the extended family: mothers-in-law; nieces; nephews; and others. There were fewer servants in the district than there had been in 1880: they were only in the houses of Joseph Weatherby on Linden Street and a few others.

Residents of the Cooper Grant Historic District in 1900 still had a wide variety of occupations and businesses. Some worked for nearby industries; others did not. The district included both white-collar and blue-collar workers as well as people who owned their own businesses. For example, Irish-born Edward Callahan, who rented 305 Point Street where he lived with his wife and three children, was a shoemaker. William Carley at 313 Point Street and his next-door neighbor J.E. Freeman were both ship's carpenters. A stairbuilder lived at 317 Point Street, and a German-born barber lived at 319 Point Street. James Woodson, a cigarmaker from Virginia, lived with his wife and two children at 337 Point Street. Across the street, W. Harlanger, an artist from Austria, lived at 334 Point Street with his wife and two children. S.E. Maken, who lived at 332 Point Street, had three sons who were a shoemaker, a salesman, and a match-factory worker. The last son probably worked at the nearby Ruby Match Factory. Two salesmen and a grocer also lived in the block.

On Front Street there were a number of residents who worked in the shipbuilding industry. W.L. Jester at 315 Front Street, John Knudsen and his son at 335 Front Street, and Sam Kemble at 402 Front Street were all ship's carpenters. Two of the adult sons of Albert Kite, who lived at 213 Front Street, were spar makers. The street also included machinists, a trunk maker, a railroad worker, an engineer, a shoemaker, and a builder.

On Penn Street Aaron Ivins at 123 Penn Street, George H. Scott at 117 Penn Street, and Mr. Stachelhausen at 103 Penn Street all worked for the railroad. Two residents of Penn Street worked in the dry goods business, and one was a bookkeeper.

The residents of Linden Street showed a similar diversity of occupation. There were four engineers, one railroad worker, and one-iron foundry worker. A German-born carriage builder owned the house at 109 Linden Street, and Carlton Rickenbach, who gave his occupation simply as "interested in boats," rented 107 Linden Street. George Smith, the paper hanger who had lived at 115 Linden Street in 1880, was still there in 1900.

Several of the residents of N. Second Street in 1900, including John Praul, Joseph Weatherby, and Andrew Frazee, had lived in their houses for a number of years. Many others had lived there for a much shorter time. For example, Edward Coleman, a watch case maker, rented 410 Second Street, William Graves, a grinder in a saw factory, lived at 412 Second Street, and Thomas Mayne, a shoemaker, rented 414 Second Street.

It is difficult to tell from census or city-directory listings how many of the occupants of the houses in the Cooper Grant Historic District actually worked in the nearby industries. It is probable that some of the occupants who were engineers, shipbuilders, and perhaps even clerks and salesmen, worked for nearby industries. Others such as grocers, dry goods salesmen, and barbers obviously did not work in industry. Whether they were a source of employment or not, the nearby industries did have a strong impact on the neighborhood. Their buildings adjoined the district and were highly visible. One industry, the Victor Talking Machine Company (now RCA), directly influenced the appearance and cultural offerings of the community through the donation by its president and founder of the Cooper Library. In 1915 Eldridge Reeves Johnson, founder and later president of the Victor Talking Machine Company, gave the City of Camden a new building to replace the old Cooper Mansion, first a residence and later a branch library. Johnson's own architects, Walter Karcher and Livingston Smith, designed the classical revival building that stands in the park today. The building cost about $130,000 and stood directly behind the old house when it opened in 1918. The city used the old house as a local Red Cross Center during World War I before demolishing it in 1919. Johnson then gave more money for landscaping the grounds and established a fund for the upkeep of the park. In his honor, the city council changed the name of the park from Cooper Park to Johnson Park. Johnson and others contributed works of art and fencing to further enhance the library, which eventually became the Walt Whitman Poetry Center. It is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places.

Another outstanding individual building within the Cooper Grant Historic District boundaries is the firehouse that now stands at the southwest corner of Front and Linden Streets, on land that David Baird owned. It began to operate in 1911 when the Camden City Directory listed it as Engine #6. It is the third important nonresidential building in the district in addition to the North Baptist Church, and the Cooper Library.

In the two decades between World Wars I and II, Camden experienced the vicissitudes of boom and depression common to other American cities. However, the Cooper Grant Historic District experienced what must have been the most traumatic event in its history — the construction of a bridge across the Delaware River. The idea of a bridge was an old one, of course, and the advent of the automobile was the final impetus for making it a reality. The legislatures of both New Jersey and Pennsylvania passed acts creating the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission in 1919 and work began in earnest on plans for the bridge. There was disagreement among residents on both sides of the river as to exactly where the bridge should be. A traffic survey attempted to discover the most frequent street destinations of motorists headed for Philadelphia, and engineering studies attempted to find the spots best suited for the new bridge. In Camden, the residents whose houses would be taken for the bridge opposed the site selection. Apparently the reasoning of the commission was that houses and buildings would be removed in Camden no matter where the bridge went, so the commission stayed with its site selection: the block between Pearl and Bridge streets at the north edge of the Cooper Grant Historic District.

Although it opened in 1926, the bridge was not named after Benjamin Franklin until 1955. With its center span of 1750 feet, it was the world's largest bridge for three years. Despite the facts that the bridge was an engineering feat and a boon to motorists, the fears of Camden residents about its deleterious effect upon them were soon confirmed. Dorwart and Mackey expressed it clearly: "The swath of demolition which accompanied construction of the suspension bridge included David Baird's old spar yard and lumber business, the first Warren Webster factory, and Tabernacle Methodist Episcopal Church. The Tabernacle congregation held its last sad service in June, 1924 and then merged with Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church. A number of lovely residences in what was once Camden City's center of fine residential living also fell to demolition crews. In fact the city was cut in half, and one of the most desirable neighborhoods and a lucrative tax area fell to progress. One might trace some of the city's eventual decay to the location of the bridge and its approach ways in the heart of Camden City."

A property atlas of Camden prepared in 1926 shows all the lots in the block north of Pearl Street that the State of New Jersey had purchased for the bridge. The same map also shows that the Victor Talking Machine Company had purchased a number of houses in the Cooper Grant Historic District. Alfred Goldenberg owned a number of houses on Point Street that he rented. Edelstein and Bernstein, Inc., also owned a group of rental houses on the same street. William Aveyard, another owner of rental property, had houses scattered through the district. By 1926 a number of houses, including the row in the 200 block of Penn Street, were divided to contain two or more rental units.

After World War II Rutgers University moved into the neighborhood, demolishing many buildings to make way for its new campus. At the same time Camden, like many other old American industrial cities, saw its residents flee to the suburbs and many of its old industries decline. The architecture of the Cooper Grant Historic District's rowhouses, semi-detached houses, and institutional buildings stands as a tangible reminder of an earlier era. Italianate, Second Empire, and Classical Revival motifs are a pleasant blend and reflect the most popular styles of the short period during which the houses were built. The church, firehouse, and library, each in a different style, are also representative examples of their type and time.

The boundaries of the Cooper Grant Historic District are irregular in order to set the district off from the Rutgers Campus to the east, large industrial buildings to the west and south, and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to the North. The Cooper Grant Historic District is distinctly different from the area beyond its boundaries. The Cooper Grant Historic District is of local significance and, within the context of the history of the City of Camden, is a compact unit of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century architecture. The district was at one time contiguous with other housing north of the bridge, but it has been separated from that area since 1926. Although there were at one time many more blocks similar to those in the district, only these few blocks remain as a cohesive unit. The buildings are the material evidence of the events that have taken place over the past one hundred years in the Cooper Grant Historic District.


Andariese, Walter S. History of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. (Camden: Delaware River Port Authority, 1981).

Baist, William G. Property Atlas of the City of Camden, 1902.

Camden City Directories, 1865, 1911.

Cooper, Howard M. Historical Sketch of Camden, New Jersey. (Camden: Horace B. Kettler, 1909).

Dorwart, Jeffrey M. and Mackay, Philip E. Camden County, New Jersey 1616-1976 (Camden: Camden County Cultural and Heritage Commission, 1976).

Greenberg, Gail M. National Register Nomination for Cooper Library in Johnson Park, 1977.

Hopkins, G.M. City Atlas of Camden, New Jersey, 1977.

Manuscript United States Census, 1880.

Manuscript United States Census, 1900.

Prowell, George R. The History of Camden County, New Jersey (Philadelphia: L.J. Richards, 1886).

Deed Book #59, Camden County Registry of Deeds.

Snape, William J. "Reynell Coates (1802-1886): Politician, Poet, Editor, Naturalist, Lecturer, and Physician." Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Vol. 35, No. 3, January, 1968.

West Jersey Press, May 24, 1876.

Camden County Historical Society file on the North Baptist Church.

‡ Franklyn Thompson, Priscilla Thompson and J. Ames Thompson, The History Stor, Cooper Grant Historic District, Camden County, New Jersey, nomination document, 1986, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
2nd Street North • Friends Street • Front Street North • Linden Street • Pearl Street • Penn Street • Point Street

HomeWhats NewSite IndexContact
PrivacyDisclaimer • © 1997-2024, The Gombach Group