Broad Street Historic District

Woodbury City, Gloucester County, NJ

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The Broad Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document for the Woodbury Multiple Resource Area. [1]

Historic District [1]

The Broad Street Historic District derives its significance from the variety of the functions Woodbury City has served throughout the past three hundred years as evidenced by its architecture. The original Quaker settlement of the Wood family from England began at the intersection of Broad Street and Woodbury Creek. The brick Quaker meetinghouse was erected in 1715 as a replacement for the smaller meetings taking place in private homes west of Woodbury at the mouth of Woodbury Creek and the Delaware River. The meetinghouse is the first documented structure built south of the Woodbury Creek in Woodbury. The Quaker community grew in the next sixty years requiring the addition of a second half to the meetinghouse in 1785. It employed many of the same construction techniques and Flemish bond brick work as in the older half. King's Highway, established circa 1710, is presently known as Broad Street, but was also known at various points in time as the Great Salem Road, Mullica Hill Turnpike, Gloucester Turnpike, Woodbury Street and Main Street. It ran from Burlington to Salem. It is along this axis that the City of Woodbury grew. Inns and taverns along the way, such as Wilkin's Inn (1715) offered lodging and board to travelers. By 1774, the Quakers had erected the Deptford Free School on Delaware Street as a one room schoolhouse for the Society of Friends. Quakers and non-Quakers agreeing to pay tuition could attend. It later served as a public library and was enlarged with a harmonious west wing in 1925 to serve as Woodbury's City Hall. The area nearest Woodbury Creek continued to be the area of the greatest development due to the role of commerce in Woodbury's history. Broad Street was heavily traveled by farmers hauling their produce to and from markets or to Woodbury to send the produce on its way by water. Woodbury grew steadily with increasing numbers of residences along Broad Street. In 1783, the winding King's Highway (Broad Street) was straightened. Some houses were removed while others were faced with the problems of being oriented to Broad Street backwards. The Franklin house and the Seven Stars Tavern stand today with their original rear elevations converted to front facades.

Woodbury was only a village in Deptford Township when the county seat was transferred from Gloucester City to Woodbury in 1787. Woodbury was considered an ideal location for the county seat since it was easily accessible by King's Highway and considered a good site for new growth. The intersection of Broad Street and Delaware Street was chosen for the building of a brick courthouse which was replaced in 1887 by the present brownstone structure. The first courthouse was a large brick structure and began to draw the focus of Woodbury away from the creek toward the intersection of Woodbury's two primary thoroughfares, Broad and Delaware Streets. In 1810, Newton Hotel was built at this intersection. Its popularity and "modern conveniences" reinforced a movement of Woodbury's center to Delaware and Broad. In 1815 there were only 71 dwellings along Broad Street and a few scattered along Delaware Street. Growth in the late eighteenth century was apparently slow but steady. The old brick courthouse survived an attempt, circa 1820, to have the county seat moved to Camden, yet was later condemned in 1885 at 100 years of age to be replaced by the present brownstone courthouse. The earlier courthouse was allowed to stand until 1887; it was then sold at auction for $255.00 and demolished. (Parts of the original courthouse, incorporated into other buildings, can still be found throughout Woodbury). In 1854, Woodbury was incorporated as a borough and then in 1870 as a city. The Civil War increased the population of the city as a result of the military training camp set up at the southern end of town. It was called Camp Stockton and located in the area directly south of Carpenter Street.

In 1872 the Green family began the production of patent medicines in Woodbury, increasing the wealth and population of the city dramatically. In 1880 George Green had the first Opera House built at the southeast corner of East Center Street and Broad Street by John C. Rogers of Camden. The elegant opera house seated 1,000 and featured plays, lectures and singing talents from across the country. This structure became known as The Green Block and housed not only the opera house but also the armory, council chamber, four large stores and many offices. This building is not only a tangible sign of civic pride, but also a functional building used by religious groups (1889), the high school after a fire (1912), reception area for Spanish American War veterans (1899), public library (1884) and Woodbury's first telephone office in 1883. It is likely that this elaborate structure influenced the "Victorianization" of earlier and less decorative storefronts along Broad Street.

In the period between 1880 and 1925, both the increased wealth and Woodbury's status as the county seat in a developing area led to the increased number of massive public buildings erected within a one block radius of the Delaware and Broad Street intersection. These buildings reflect larger, national architectural influences such as the Sullivanesque elements found in the National Bank and Trust Company built in 1893 and the Richardsonian Romanesque of the brownstone courthouse built in 1887 and designed by Hazel and Hucklehurst of Philadelphia. Two adjoining banks were designed by Charles R. Peddle using elements of the Second Empire/Romanesque and Neo-Classical styles. The Gloucester County Building was also designed by Charles Peddle (1925) in the neo-Classical style. It was constructed of granite by George W. Shaner and Sons of Palmyra. The public buildings represent the largest of Peddle's architectural designs, but his residential designs also exist throughout Woodbury (his hometown) and southern New Jersey. Most often, Peddle's designs for Woodbury buildings were executed by a local contractor, Joseph B. Best.

  1. Woodbury Multiple Resource Area: Partial Inventory of Historical and Architectural Resources, nomination document, 1988, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Broad Street North • Broad Street South • Courtland Street • Newton Avenue

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