Merchantville Train Station - Merchantville, NJ
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 57.141 W 075° 02.913
18S E 495852 N 4422469
Quick Description: The historic district begins with this contributing structure, a train station built circa 1881 containing many of the traditional Victorian tell-tale features. Today, it has been converted into offices.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 8/9/2011 7:05:24 PM
Waymark Code: WMC8WP
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 5

Long Description:

The Victorian train station is the very first stop on the official Borough sponsored Cattell Tract Historic District walking tour. The development of Victorian Merchantville can be traced to the association with the ease of transportation afforded by the railways. Philadelphians were able to live in a pleasant new development while commuting to the city with ease. This 1 and a half story station was the center of life in this new development. Its inviting porch provided protective areas for awaiting trains while passing the time of day. The ticket area was located in the central area with freight and passenger waiting rooms on either side. At one time the train master lived on the second floor with his family. The present use of the building as office space is a good example of adapted reuse of a historical building with sensitive treatment of the exterior to maintain the Victorian character. Note the carved griffins in the tympanum, a symbol of the Pennsylvania Railroad. (Source: Pamphlet given out at the borough hall)

The Camden and Pemberton Agricultural Railroad was chartered for construction and operation of a line connecting Camden, Merchantville, Moorestown, Mt. Holly, and Pemberton on July 28, 1854. During the next three years, no railroad construction through Merchantville ensued, although Loutey and McFadden continued to acquire land. The nationwide financial panic of 1857-1858 likely postponed construction further. In fact, it was not until the organization of the Camden and Burlington County Railroad in February of 1866 that ground was broken for Merchantville's new link to Philadelphia. The Cattell, Stetson, Homer, Cunningham, Morris and Curtis families donated much of the land needed for construction of the railroad. Train service officially opened October 21, 1867, and in 1868, the Camden and Amboy Railroad leased the line. SOURCE

As far as the historic district, I took a 2 hour walk of this incredible and little known town/jewel. I live two miles away and had no idea this area existed. I went to the borough hall and picked up a brochure entitled A Walking Tour of the Cattell Tract, A National Registered Historic District. Inside the pamphlet, there are 14 examples of contributing structures and narratives (including this contributing structure) incorporating a wide range of structural/architectural diversity so as to allow the visitor to have a complete flavor of the district. There are a total of 174 buildings in the district. I think this may be the only non-residential structure to be found here. While I was unable to procure a complete list of contributing structures on this day, the borough folks told me contributing houses (everyone from the 1890s) have markers/plaques indicating the date of construction and the original homeowner's name. There are many contributing structures without the markers, but, I only documented the ones with the markers so as to waymark them and provide suitable evidence for the contributing structures category. The train station is unfortunately devoid of markers or anything else which may identify it as an NRHP site, but, it is a contributing structure nonetheless.

Here is what is on the brochure:

Alexander G. Cattell, United States Senator, commission merchant, and organizer of the Corn Exchange National Bank of Philadelphia, was the first developer of Merchantville. By 194, he along with the "founding fathers", real estate speculators, had acquired land which was to become the Borough of Merchantville. Cattell and his brother, Elijah G., eventually acquired 79 acres or one fifth of Merchantville's total area.

Not coincidentaaly, the first railroad was chartered for construction and operation between Pemberton and Mount Holly the same year. However, it took until 1866 for the Camden and Burlington Railroad to break ground. The Cattells and other land owners donated much of the land needed.

Between 1868 and the mid 1870's several Cattell lots were sold for $400 - $500. The first home, the Furber House, at 25 East Walnut Avenue was built in 1869. Contributing to the first building boom were the formation of the Cottage Building & Loan Association, magazines that promoted suburban living, and the opening of a summer boarding house.

By 1910 the Cattell Tract was substantially developed, its predominant architecture being Victorian. Today the majority of structures exhibit a high degree of architectural integrity and are in excellent condition. SOURCE

Is the station/depot currently used for railroad purposes?: No

Is the station/depot open to the public?: Yes

If the station/depot is not being used for railroad purposes, what is it currently used for?:
Offices


What rail lines does/did the station/depot serve?: Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company

Station/Depot Web Site: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please post an original picture of the station/depot taken while you were there. Please also record how you came to be at this station/depot and any interesting information you learned about it while there.
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