Bits of SJ: Farms of Cherry Hill

by R. Cohen | Sep 29, 2003
Bits of SJ: Farms of Cherry Hill The area we know today as Cherry Hill started as a small group of communities that included Colwick and Erlton. This area grew into Delaware Township. In the 1960s, the area was renamed Cherry Hill Township after a farm on the west side of town.

Today, Cherry Hill boasts one of the oldest working farms in Southern New Jersey--Barclay Farmstead. The farm offers visitors a trip back to life when it was much simpler, or so it would seem. Joseph Thorn built the mansion at this site in 1816. It was subsequently occupied by Joseph Cooper, a descendent of the founder of Camden, and six generations of Barclays, related to Cooper by marriage.

Today visitors can step back to 1816 to tour the house as well as a reconstructed tool shed, a corn crib, springhouse, kitchen garden, an orchard, and community garden plots. A woodland path leads to Cooper Creek. A working forge barn can also be seen. Throughout the year visitors can enjoy a number of special events and exhibits that explore both historic and contemporary themes.

Another Cherry Hill gem is the 80-acre Croft Farm, hidden in the middle of suburban Cherry Hill. The Croft Farm is composed of a plantation house, smoke house, springhouse, ice house, corn crib, pole barns, animal barns, and a tenement house. The centerpiece of Croft Farm is the 16-room farmhouse. The oldest portion of the house dates back to about 1779 and now serves as a designated dining room.

The farm was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. Slaves came from Woodbury and were quickly hidden in the attic of the house. Then, in the middle of the night, they would be given something to eat and hurried off in a covered wagon to Mount Holly, where they were hidden again.

In 1995, the Cherry Hill Arts Center at Croft Farm was installed and dedicated in a former barn. The farmstead is now administered by the township and is a center for community arts. The Cherry Hill Orchestra plays here, and there are many festivals and exhibits scheduled there throughout the year.

In 2001, The Board of the New Jersey Historic Trust approved a list of recommended awards to preserve 37 historic sites with funding from the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund. Nearly $1.06 million in matching grants will fund planning projects for historic preservation activity at a variety of sites in 17 counties throughout the State. $22,875 has been designated to Cherry Hill for the preparation of individual preservation plans for the c. 1828 Barclay Farmstead house museum, and the 19th-century Croft farmhouse.

For more information on these two Cherry Hill gems, visit

Barclay Farmstead
www.barclayfarmstead.org
209 Barclay Lane, Cherry Hill
(856) 795-6225

Croft Farm
Croft Farm
100 Borton Mill-Evans Mill Rd
(856) 216-0669

For more South Jersey History, visit our SJ History page.

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Author: R. Cohen

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