By 1715 the Quaker community had outgrown its initial settlement and a new site was selected inland where the King’s Highway bridged Woodbury Creek. By the time of the Revolutionary War, Woodbury had emerged as a hamlet of considerable importance with the rebel cause garnering strong support among Woodbury settlers. Its close proximity by water to Philadelphia ensured many troop movements through the tiny town; it was alternately occupied by military forces on both sides.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko fortified the bluff above the Delaware River with nine-foot high earthen walls embedded with an abatis (sharpened tree branches) during the war. Fort Mercer - named for Scottish Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, who died at Princeton - was garrisoned by Colonel Christopher Greene and 400 of his fellow Rhode Islanders with 14 cannons and worked in tandem with Fort Mifflin across the river to form a considerable detriment to any force planning a water approach on the Colonial capital of Philadelphia. After using a land route from the south and west to take Philadelphia on September 26, 1777, it immediately became imperative to open the Delaware River to keep supplies to the British Army flowing.
The inevitable attack on Fort Mercer was not a month in coming, in the guise of 1,200 Hessian troops approaching from the north. Greene refused a demand of surrender and repulsed two German advances up the steep slopes. The fire from the American defenders was withering and the Hessian ranks were thinned by nearly half before leaving the Red Bank Battlefield. A few weeks later, however, the British stormed Fort Mifflin and rather than face the overpowering force now across the river, the Americans destroyed Fort Mercer as they surrendered Philadelphia completely to the British.
Woodbury continued to prosper after the War of Independence and on into the 19th century. The oldest and largest city in Gloucester County, it became the official county seat in the 1790s, erecting a brick courthouse. Woodbury was originally formed as a Borough on March 27, 1854, within Deptford Township, based on the results of a referendum held on March 22, 1854. On January 2, 1871, Woodbury was reincorporated as a city, based on the results of a referendum held that day.
By 1890 Woodbury was in the midst of its greatest vitality and had a population of 3,930. The patent medicine business of George Green was the primary economic engine but Woodbury boasted glass works, bottle plants, and steam mills as well. Our walking tour will begin in the shadow of the Green factory, the source of profits that would spawn building projects on both the East and West coast...
Woodbury Railroad Station
Cooper Street and Railroad Avenue
The Camden and Woodbury Railroad & Transportation Companyopened to passengers on January 29, 1838. The rate of fare from Camden to Woodbury was twenty-five cents; after numerous “ups and downs”, the road was finally abandoned around 1850. In 1883, in the midst of Woodbury’s most vigorous period of development, this station was built to serve as the conduit for the town’s social and economic growth. Vegetables from surrounding farms, manufactured goods from nearby factories, and even locally made patent medicines were shipped to market through this distinguished station designed in the Stick style with a hipped roof with slate shingles and decorative “stick work” in exposed porch rafters.. The station also served Philadelphia commuters who established homes in Woodbury’s new East Side district. By 1917 the number of daily trains through Woodbury reached 139. The Woodbury Old-City Restoration Committee restored the train station in 2000.
WALK SOUTH ALONG GREEN AVENUE (THE RAILROAD TRACKS WILL BE ON YOUR RIGHT).
L.M. Green Factory
122 Green Avenue
George Gill Green began a peripatetic life in Clarksboro, New Jersey on January 16, 1842. Green attended the University of Pennsylvania medical school for two years, but left in 1864 before he graduated. He enlisted in the Civil War - with the 142d Regiment, Illinois Volunteers - and rose to the rank of Colonel. In 1867 he started a wholesale drug business in Baltimore, Maryland but the factory was destroyed by a fire. He then moved to Ohio where he found a wife and started a family. On Thanksgiving Day in 1872 he moved back to New Jersey. Gill bought the rights to “Green’s August Flower” and “Dr. Boschee’s German Syrup” from his father, Lewis, and sold the elixir under the name “L.M. Green.” He was an early innovator of mass mailings of free samples and the distribution of thousands of his almanacs touting his cures. The medicines were mostly laudanum whose main ingredient was opium with a dash of morphine. In 1879 he built this Victorian brick factory and by 1880 he was the town’s first millionaire and primary employer. Never one to stay parochial, in 1898 Green built a complex of stunning Moorish Colonial and Spanish style buildings in Pasadena, California for the Hotel Green that became to go to resort for the rich and famous wintering in California. Closer to home he built Woodbury’s Opera House. His patent medicine business declined after the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 and by 1916 the products were discontinued. George Green died in Woodbury on February 26, 1925.
CROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS AND WALK UP CENTRE STREET.
John H. Bradway House
40-42 East Centre Street
This Victorian residence was constructed by John Hancock Bradway, a member of the New Jersey State House of Assembly, in 1880. An early photographer, Bradway is listed in the American Amateur Photographer magazine in 1889, along with other journals, for contributing important images of Woodbury.
G.G. Green Building
108-112 South Broad Street at southeast corner of Centre Street
The G.G. Green Block Building was built in 1880 by Woodbury’s first industrial magnate, George G. Green. The building originally housed five stores and Green’s Opera House, with seating for 1,000 on the second floor. By 1919 it was being used primarily for motion pictures and was converted by the Woodbury Amusement Company into the Art Deco-styled Rialto Theater. The Rialto closed in 1955; the building’s marquee was removed and the first floor was hijacked for a clothing store that remained in business until January 2001.
101 S. Broad Street
Built in 1860, this Victorian building has long been used as a business/home establishment. The porch roof still remains after alterations to the 1st floor to accommodate a store front.
TURN RIGHT ON SOUTH BROAD STREET.
67 South Broad Street
A handful of Presbyterians in the Woodbury region organized officially on August 10, 1721 when John Tatum provided one acre of land “for a meeting house and burial ground.” On that site, a log meeting house was built. During the Revolutionary War, the British occupied Woodbury, taking over the church for use as a commissary. After hostilities concluded, the congregation refused to worship in the log house, claiming it was “haunted.” Permission was received to use the Academy, a private school on Broad Street, for worship until 1834 when a new church was built here, across the street. The Colonial-style church, built of red brick with white trim, was encased in stone and enlarged in 1906 to accommodate the growing congregation. In 1965 the church was restored to its original style.
47-55 South Broad Street
This store/residence was built in 1890 in a variation of the Second Empire style. The property marked the entrance to the Stokes Lumber Yard.
34 South Broad Street
This mansard-roofed Second Empire-style house was built in 1860. Renovated and restored in 1981, it retained its dramatic window eyebrows in a conversion to an office building.
Kemble United Methodist Church
19 South Broad Street
Methodism came to the Woodbury area around 1790 when the Bethel Circuit was formed at Hurffville. House meetings evolved into incorporation in 1799 when a Methodist Society of about thirty families was legally incorporated in Woodbury. Under the Pastorate of Richard Swain in 1803, a dwelling house was purchased from Benjamin Cloud and moved to the corner of Morris and West Streets. In 1832 a second place of worship was erected on the southeast corner of South Broad Street and German Street (now East Barber Avenue). The Woodbury Methodist Episcopal Church outgrew that building and Colonel George G. Green pledged $2,000.00 to begin work on a new church. Traction car magnate, William Kemble eventually became “…chiefly instrumental in the erection of this beautiful new granite church…” The new building was dedicated on Sunday, February 22, 1891 and named in memory of Elizabeth Duffield Kemble the mother of William.
TURN LEFT ON DELAWARE AVENUE AND WALK UP THE SOUTH (LEFT) SIDE OF THE STREET.
Friendship Fire Company No. 1
29 Delaware Street
The tradition of firefighting in Woodbury goes back to April 3, 1799 with the establishment of the Woodbury Fire Company. Although interest in the company waned it was revitalized in 1830 as the Friendship Fire Company and began operating out of a new firehouse on Broad Street and Cooper Street. To house newer equipment this brick building was erected in 1898. It once sported a much larger Italianate tower that was reduced to a cupola in the 1950s.
33 Delaware Street
This 2-1/2 story Colonial Revival brick building has evolved piecemeal through the decades. The east lower half, now City Hall, was originally the first permanent school of the Woodbury Friends, built in 1774. The second story was added in 1820 and the seamless addition of a library didn’t come along until 1953.
125 Delaware Street
This Colonial-style house was built in 1844; the two distinct sections are unified by a stuccoed exterior.
195 Delaware Street
This house is a 2-1/2 story frame Colonial style farm house that dates back to 1792. There are later additions both to the rear and east facades. It is believed that the property was part of the large White-Low estate.
225 Delaware Street
This Queen Anne-style home has never been altered in any way. Built in 1890, the center front octagonal tower with conical roof dominates the front facade.
122 Delaware Street
This brick Queen Anne Victorian mansion was built in 1884, on property that originally was the site of Hicksite Friends School established in 1840.
Christ Episcopal Church
62 Delaware Street
In 1854, the first organized attempt to introduce Episcopalian services in town was made when Bishop George Washington Doane, commissioned the Reverend William Herbert Norris as a missioner to Woodbury. Father Norris purchased this property in 1855 and the present fieldstone Gothic structure was completed in 1856.
Gloucester County Building
This Neoclassical courthouse annex was built on the site of the former county jail at a cost of $300,000 in 1925.
Gloucester County Courthouse
northwest corner of Broad Street and Delaware Street
Architects Hazelhurst and Huckel of Philadelphia turned to the burly Richardsonian Romanesque style, popular in late 19th century municipal buildings, for the new county courthouse in 1885. The building features Trenton brownstone and Dauphin County trim. The Colonial-style central clock tower soars 90 feet above the surrounding streetscape. The courthouse it replaced on the main intersection in town was a Colonial brick structure that had stood since 1787.
TURN LEFT ON BROAD STREET, STAYING ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE STREET.
19 North Broad Street
Woodbury Trust created this classically inspired Beaux Arts headquarters in 1916. Constructed of smooth coursed stone with a series of large, round arched window openings, it was purchased by the county in 1991.
127 North Broad Street
Built in the early 19th century, this fine brick home boasts a symmetrical Georgian five-bay facade. The fireplaces in the front of the house are typical of the simple Georgian mantle designs of the Delaware Valley region in the late 18th century.
CROSS BROAD AND STOP AT THE FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE BEFORE TURNING RIGHT AND HEADING TOWARDS THE TOWN CENTER.
120 North Broad Street
The first “Red Bank Meetings” were held in 1686 on the Wood estate along Woodbury Creek near the Delaware River. The present site was purchased for about three pounds in 1715 and when the west side of the current meetinghouse was erected it was the first documented structure built south of the Woodbury Creek. The east portion of the building was added in 1785. Following the Battle of Red Bank in the Revolutionary War in 1777 the Meetinghouse was used as a hospital for Hessian soldiers.
58 North Broad Street
Judge John Sparks built the Hunter-Lawrence house in 1765. The Reverend Andrew Hunter, a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army, owned it in 1792, and six years later it became the home of John Lawrence. Lawrence’s younger brother, James, lived in the house and received his education in Woodbury. In 1813, the 31-year old James was promoted to Captain in the United States Navy and took command of the frigate Chesapeake, then preparing for sea at Boston, Massachusetts. She left port on June 1 and immediately engaged the Royal Navy frigate Shannon in a fierce battle. Captain Lawrence, mortally wounded by small arms fire, ordered “Don’t give up the ship” as he was carried below. However, his crew was overwhelmed by British boarders shortly afterwards. James Lawrence died of his wounds on 4 June, while Chesapeake was being taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia, by her captors. His body was later repatriated to New York for burial. The U.S. Navy has named five ships in honor of James Lawrence whose dying words became a rallying cry for the service. In 1924 the Gloucester County Historical Society purchased the building and has maintained it as an 18-room museum.
44 North Broad Street
The core of this house is the oldest in Woodbury, dating to before 1765. Logs still exist under the clapboards, as does a small fireplace of square handmade bricks.
TURN LEFT ON NEWTON AVENUE.
31 Newton Avenue
This home was built in 1893 in the Queen Anne Style by M.W. Newton, who opened Newton Avenue and constructed six brick and stone houses here. Next to G.G. Green, he is considered the second greatest influence in the city in the development of the city.
TURN RIGHT ON EUCLID STREET.
22 Euclid Street
This 1890 Victorian brick home is distinguished by decorate bands in darker shades of brick.
TURN LEFT ON COOPER STREET.
St. Patrick’s Church
64 Cooper Street
St. Patrick’s was first commissioned as a mission in Woodbury and a small house of worship built on Salem Avenue in 1865. At the time, St. Patrick’s served a small immigrant Irish population, but the parish also guided eighteen other missions in the area. Land for the present church was purchased in 1903 and the church was dedicated on 1909. In 1943, the G.G. Green eight-acre estate (across from the train station) was purchased for a school, and in October 1944, St. Patrick’s School was opened. Initial enrollment was 61 students and the school was run by the Dominican Sisters. By 1949, the school grew to include all eight grades. In 1967, the old Green Mansion part of the school burned down and theschool was enlarged in 1973 to its current appearance.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT.