Status: Lost Forever
7/20/2017: The Camden County Historical Society filed a lawsuit against the State of New Jersey for demolition of the Hugg-Harrison House. Related Article: Lawsuit: NJ tore down historic Bellmawr house ‘intentionally’
4/27/2017: The NJDOT demolished the Hugg-Harrison House without a permit on April 24, 2017. Related Article: NJDOT: Razed home didn’t meet criteria for historic associations
The Hugg-Harrison-Glover House is a patterned brick building that was constructed in 1764 and incorporated an earlier building. In addition to its significant patterned brick architecture, the Hugg-Harrison-Glover House is historically associated with Captain William Harrison, of the Gloucester Town Militia Company, who fought in the 1777 Battle of Gloucester under the leadership of Colonial Joseph Ellis and the Marquis de Lafayette. Hessian forces marching to Fort Mercer crossed Harrison’s property along the way. The only surviving Camden County home of a Revolutionary War officer, the 1864 two-story brick section of the house was built by the Harrisons, who acquired the property in 1751 from the Hugg family, early property owners who constructed the earlier part of the house in what was then Gloucester County. The property was in private residential ownership until 1921 when it was acquired by the Catholic Diocese and used for administrative offices of St. Mary Cemetery, opened in 1923.
The building is now threatened with demolition due to a massive highway construction project known as “Direct Connection”. The “Direct Connection” project, which has been in the works since the early 2000s, will provide an efficient and safe route to connect I -295 with Route 42. The construction is scheduled to be complete in 2021. The Hugg-Harrison-Glover House and several acres were taken by imminent domain, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) has committed for the Diocese to move the cemetery office to a new building, now under construction. The Diocese is no longer in ownership of the Hugg-Harrison-Glover House, and is not willing to have the house relocated on its property.
All historic buildings that are affected by publicly-funded construction projects must be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Office for any negative impact the work might have on the historic resource. In this case, because the house had several additions, partially obscuring its historic appearance, the resource was not recognized for its historic value until the road construction plans had already taken shape. In 2005, a consultant was hired by the DOT to evaluate the house’s eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a listing that would likely have saved the building from demolition plans. While the consultant initially determined the building was eligible, after DOT staff disagreed, the consultant revised its determination, writing that alternations and additions to the exterior and interior had impacted the resource’s historic integrity. This resulted in the Department of Environmental Protection/Historic Preservation Office (DEP/HPO) granting permission for demolition. When this error was corrected after a site visit in 2014, DEP/HPO found that the building was eligible for listing and that the proposed construction would indeed have an adverse effect on the historic property. DOT offered $75,000 for a study of patterned brick houses in Southern New Jersey as mitigation for the demolition, and the offer was accepted. Construction continues, and demolition is planned.
To prevent the planned demolition, the Camden County Historical Society is leading a coalition of local leaders and residents and proposing to move the building to a nearby site and take stewardship responsibility for its preservation. This proposal would seem to satisfy all parties: the cemetery would still receive a new administration building, DOT would be able to complete its road and barrier construction, and New Jersey would save a historic house that connects directly to its Colonial past. Preservation New Jersey fully supports the efforts of the Camden County Historical Society to preserve the house by moving it to an appropriate location.
Camden County Historical Society (Society) has requested “that the NJDOT provide sufficient funds for relocation of the building, either elsewhere on the site, or if the owner does not want it there, then to a public park somewhere near the original location.” The Society suggests that the $75,000 mitigation be directed to this effort. In addition, the Society and its coalition have contacted a building mover and researched possible locations nearby that would be acceptable landing places for the house.
Congressman Donald Norcross and the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program have supported the Society’s request and petitioned DOT to exhaust all efforts to save the building. In addition, the Borough of Bellmawr and Camden County Freeholders have prepared resolutions of support and over 2,000 individuals have signed a petition to save the house.
While the house has been modernized on the interior and had additions constructed, the modernizations may be reversible and historic materials and finishes could be restored. Ironically, this could take place prior to moving the house, helping it to appear in its previous historic configuration. The property could also revert to private ownership, protected by a preservation easement that would ensure that its historic features would be maintained in perpetuity. This would allow the structure to be used for a residence or office that would contribute to the local community.
Preservation New Jersey