A Walk In Woodbury, NJ

Not too long ago, my son and I took a stroll around Woodbury, New Jersey. It’s a historic town going back a few centuries. Woodbury was founded in 1683 by a Quaker named Henry Wood. He originated from Bury, England. It’s been the county seat of Gloucester County for over two centuries. I’d say it’s a transitioning town now.

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Wood Family Burial Marker.

Notes: Inscription reads: “Wood Family Burial Ground. A portion of the land deeded in 1682 by Edward Byllings of Westminster to Henry Wood, Sr. and John, his brother, of Bury, County Lancaster, England, and claimed by the family on arriving here, and becoming the first settlers of Woodbury. It was earlier used for burial by the Indians. Here was buried the above named Henry Wood Sr. who died Aug. 19, 1686. Aged 84 years. John Wood devised this as a burying place for those who should come after him. ‘Remember the days of old. Consider the years of many generations.’ For this intent this stone is erected by the Gloucester County Historical Society. A.D. 1912”

Get it? Combined with his last name “Wood” and the town where he was born..”Bury”? Hence, the Woodbury name.

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Farmerettes at a farm in Woodbury. Photo taken between 1920s-1940s. NJ Archives.

They’re in the process of revitalizing Broad Street back to its former glory. One of my most admired historians of South Jersey, Frank H. Stewart, called his home here. Most of South Jersey’s parks would not exist if it wasn’t for him. Anywho, I’m not going to bore you with the history. Lets go on a little tour!

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Here’s a neat map of Woodbury from the 1880’s. From the library of congress.

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Historic Conrail Watchman’s Stand.

At the corner of Evergreen and Cooper Street is this green beauty. This is the oldest surviving Conrail Watchman’s Stand in all of New Jersey. It originally sat at N. Broad and Park Avenue. It was relocated and refurbished here in 1985. You will see crossing guards still using this booth in inclement weather.

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Along Cooper Street- The old trolley line.

This Georgian Revival home was built in 1903 for Judge Lewis Starr and his wife. It is located at 275 Cooper Street. The front walkway use to go straight to Cooper Street because a trolley line use to run directly on the street. The owner after Judge Starr transferred the walkway to Woodland Avenue. Formal gardens once extended out to the beautiful lake.

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Gorgeous lake seen from the bridge on Cooper Street.20140207-180131.jpg

Bridge built in 1927.

More alluring homes along Cooper Street.

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We’re going to do a tour of Broadway now…. Starting with the cemetery near the Colonial Diner.

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Here is the old site of the Presbyterian meetinghouse that once resided on this property. The first Presbyterian meetinghouse was built of logs in 1721 on land deeded by John Tatum to Alexander Randall, Peter Long (Alexander’s father-in-law) and others for a church. Alexander was the only surviving trustee of the church in 1768 when he conveyed the property in trust to John Sparks (his son-in-law.) In 1803, John Sparks re-conveyed to new trustees, who included General Franklin Davenport (a descendent of the sister of Benjamin Franklin.)

Source: “History of the Counties of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland, New Jersey with Biographical Sketches of their Prominent Citizens” by Thomas Cushing, MD and Charles E. Sheppard, Esq., Philadelphia, PA, Everts & Peck 1883: page 177

The new church location is at Broad and West Center Street.

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Here’s the General’s gravestone.

In this cemetery lies one of Woodbury’s reportedly most-famous residents, General Franklin Davenport. He is the nephew of Benjamin Franklin. He was born in Philly and went onto study law in Burlington. Davenport was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1776 and practiced in Gloucester City, NJ. During the Revolutionary War, he enlisted as a private with the New Jersey militia. Thus climbing up the ladder and gaining rank to General.

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A memorial erected at the cemetery. Says in memory of those transferred from the ward of Red Bank Avenue.

After the war, he was appointed to the United States Senate as a Federalist to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John Rutherfurd, and served from December 5, 1798, to March 4, 1799. He then was elected to the US Congress from March 4, 1799 to March 4, 1801. The General then came back to Woodbury and resumed his law practice until his death in 1832.

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Further down Broadway (and heading further into the downtown area) is the Goodwill Fire company located at 642 North Broad Street. It was founded in 1887. It is no longer in use, but still used to hold equipment for the township.

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The First Baptist Church in Woodbury founded in 1857. It was the first baptist church to be in Woodbury. It’s located at 544 along Broad Street.

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Our next stop is 111 North Broad Street present-day Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse. This was known as the Wilkins’ Inn or Paul Hotel. The legend is brick leftover from the meetinghouse (across the street) was used to build this beautiful baby. It is reported to have been constructed in 1737. Until 1975, it was the oldest inn in continual operation in all of Gloucester County.

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Across the street, is the old Quaker meetinghouse. It was built in 1715 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. This meetinghouse was used as a hospital by the Hessians during the Battle of Red Bank.

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Marker in front of the historical society. On this site, General Cornwalis set up his headquarters during the Revolutionary War. Cornwalis was British. An educated aristocrat with military training. He was forced to surrender his troops in 1781 to American & French forces at the Siege of Yorktown. This surrender ended the Revolutionary War.

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At 58 North Broad Street is the Gloucester County Historical Society. They purchased the home in 1924 and it has been aptly named the Hunter-Lawrence-Jessup house.

Hunter

Hunter was a tea burner and educator and owned the house from 1792 to 1798.

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Lawrence

Then, Captain John Lawrence took ownership (he was born in Burlington). He lived here with his younger brother James. James was in the navy and was seriously injured on the deck of his ship fighting in the War of 1812. His dying and most-famous words were, “Don’t give up the ship,” a phrase adopted as a U.S. Naval battle cry. The famous phrase still used today.

Jessup

For judge and civic leader, John S. Jessup, purchased the home in the later 19th Century. In a publication written upon his death, the Woodbury Constitution mentions this about Judge Jessup, “As the law Judge of Gloucester County for a number of years, he was spoken of an upright jurist who dealt out justice without fear or favor, often times tempering justice with mercy where the demands of the law had been satisfied and leniency was an avenue through which the best results might be obtained, as viewed from the Bench. Judge Jessup will be missed by a large circle of friends and an extensive clientele in the legal profession.”

The Gloucester County Historical Society is a wonderful museum covering centuries of local history and is something you need to see in your lifetime.

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At 19 North Broad Street is the old Woodbury Trust Building. It was a bank constructed in 1887 and is used as the Surrogate’s Court connected to the court house via a two-story walkway.

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19 South Broad Street is the Kemble Methodist Church which was constructed in 1888. Last year, it celebrated its 125th anniversary. The church was named for the daughter of William H. Kemble. William was a millionaire and invested in cable car routes across the country. This church is a knockout. Yummy married her husband here in 2010.

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The Presbyterian Church located at 67 S. Broad

The Presbyterian Church, in Woodbury, was organized in 1721 at the graveyard I mentioned previously. A log cabin was constructed for services as well as the cemetery resided on the property. In 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the British occupied the log structure as a commissary. After the war, the congregation refused to worship in the building. They said it was haunted. The congregation moved and used The Academy (which was a private school) for services which were held there until 1834. The “new” church seen in this picture was built in 1834.

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Our next stop is 31 Newton Avenue. This home was built in 1893 in a Queen Anne Style by M.W. Newton (the street was named after him.). He and G.G. green are credited as having the greatest influence on the development of Woodbury of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Newton was also the innkeeper of G.G.Green’s Hotel.

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More homes above on Newton Avenue which is part of the Newton Historic District in Woodbury.

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From a marker on the front of the station: Built in 1883, the Eastern Stick Style Woodbury Train Station is a symbol of Woodbury’s most vigarous period of development. It is a key structure in the Green Era Historic District, listed in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in 1988. The Woodbury Old-City Restoration Committee restored the train station in 2000 with the assistance of the New Jersey Historic Trust, State of New Jersey. It is now a restaurant which is pretty cool.

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Holy Angels Parish

Well, this walk was a lot of fun! I know I missed A LOT of places and I do apologize. there’s so much history that you could write a whole book on this lovely historic town. However, I hope you enjoyed this little tour.

Until our next adventure, my friends!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out this walking tour! (It’s pretty neat.)

Woodbury Historic Walking Tour

-The Yummygal

31 thoughts on “A Walk In Woodbury, NJ

  1. This was very enlightening. I am so proud to have grown up in Woodbury. Even though I now live in San Antonio, Texas, having recently moved here, I will always consider Woodbury my home. Thank you for this wonderful historical retrospective. Now so many of the names of streets and buildings have taken on new life, since I feel like I know more about the people behind them. Also, the map was so much fun to figure out!

  2. Very neat!! I love the photos of the older homes and buildings, esp. the Watchman’s Stand, interesting subject.
    I was a bit surprised and disappointed that there was no photo of the Colonial Diner that you mention as you start to ‘tour’ the cemetery. Was it not ‘photo-worthy’?
    Enjoying your posts! Hopefully someday, I’ll get to visit the Garden State!
    jd

  3. Thank you for sharing this. My grandmother lived at 71 Aberdeen Place. I remember hearing the trains pull into the station when I would spend the night with her. She would tell stories of my grandfather getting off the train at the end of the day from work. I can’t wait to take the walking tour the next time I am home.

  4. Thanks for sharing your visit! I grew up in the fifties when Woodbury was the center of the universe for residents of Gloucester County. Much of our lives revolved around visiting the town weekly to run our errands. My mother and I shopped there, paid the phone bill, the insurance bill, visited the five and dime (where my sister got her first job after graduating from Woodbury High), and sometimes, went to the movies! My grandfather, Chester Zane, owned the Zane Lumber Yard in North Woodbury during the late1920’s(I think) and my mother remembered that bootlegged liquor was brought in from Canada on the side rail into the lumber yard.) So many of my childhood memories revolve around the city even though I grew up in Almonesson. I would love to see the Woodbury Historical Society undertake oral histories of the Baby Boomer Generation before the memories and history are lost of that time period. It would be a great project for Woodbury High School students in conjunction with the Historical Society. Thanks again for your great site!

  5. Thanks esp much for the tour!! There is so much history right under my nose that I just by without giving it a thought. I really appreciate learning about these interesting places!!! THANKS!!!

  6. Having grown up in the Woodbury area I really enjoyed your photo tour. I have a copy of the map you referenced framed and hanging in my Quakertown PA dining room. I found it in my parents basement and couldn’t bear to part with it.

  7. My hometown! I grew up there from 1952 until I went off to Rutgers New Brunswick in 1970. I know every one of the places on the tour. I was born at the old hospital across from the former Hotel Paul and was educated next door at the school. My grandfather worked for about 40 years at the Post Office. An uncle worked 25+ years there too. It was so neat to come out for recess and see my Pop Pop and Uncle Jack almost every day. During my WHS days, I would occasionally go across the street and roam around the Historical Society for hours. It began a great interest in history that still excites me today. Recently, I figured out that the house I grew up in on Franklin St. is about 7 miles from Independence Hall. Perhaps that’s why I love Colonial history so much! Thanks to Yummygal for the tour of my hometown and for sharing so much interesting history about South Jersey.

  8. I appreciate reading about the historic places in Woodbury. I wish it were a safer area and that the revitalization had happened a few decades ago. It sure has a long way to go these days, but hopefully it will once again be returned to its former glory.

    • AJ, I agree. I do think they are set on turning it around finally. The school system still has a bit to go from what I’ve heard. There are a lot of beautiful homes in Woodbury. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. This was great. I grew up in Woodbury and currently work there. You touched on many interesting places in Woodbury, so job well done.

  10. Hi Gal
    Although I,m from National Park I graduatered from Woodbury High In 1952,spent a lot of time in Woodbury.I work my Jr.an Sr Year at the Wood And Rialto Theaters.Your pictures bring back a lot of memories.Thank you.

  11. Thanks for the tour. I grew up in Woodbury with my 12 brothers and 3 sisters and graduated from WHS in 1985. Awesome place to grow up. WHS was a small school, but the teachers there gave us all we needed to go any where we wanted. I’m glad to hear about the revitalization.

  12. I work in Woodbury and use Broad Street daily. So much rich colonial history right under our nose. I recently picked up a framed picture of the ship that is on the billboard near the hospital. I found it at a thrift shop of all places and got it for a song. It has a special place on a wall in my home. I just love it! Thanks for your adventures!

  13. Pingback: Woodbury Creek Park – Woodbury, NJ | South Jersey Trails

  14. Hmm, it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer, but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for newbie blog writers? I’d appreciate it.

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