The former Grenloch School building on the Black Horse Pike in Gloucester Township was sold to Al-Manar Learning Center out of Blackwood. The brick exterior former school building is over 100 years old and sits next to the Gloucester Premium Outlets.
A GoFundMe page for the purchasers states the building will become a new home for the locally based religious organization Al-Manar, and will include a Learning center and Mosque.
A new roof was already installed on the former school building, and crews are actively working on the property.
Up until the November sale, the school building was still owned by the Gloucester Township Board of Education
I believe it had not been used for public school education purposes for at least 10 years. The GTBOE had been actively listing the building for sale for several years.
Al Manar Learning Center
Al Manar currently operates at another location on the Black Horse Pike, at the corner of E Lake Ave in a unit behind the pizza shop there.
The commentary from their GoFundMe page describes the goal for the new Grenloch School location as:
Blackwood Muslim Community, located in New Jersey, is in the process of buying a building. We want to renovate it into a mosque and a learning center for our growing community. We are reaching out to our brothers and sisters for help to complete the purchase and renovation. This is our chance to build a mosque for our families to have a place for worship and celebration of the Islamic Holidays. This Project is to create a mosque and an Islamic learning center for the future of our kids. Our project foundation will teach the correct Islamic Knowledge based upon the Book of Allah (The Most High) and the authentic Sunnah of His Messenger Muhammad (sallaahu ‘alayhi salalm).Al Manar Learning Center, Blackwood NJ
The GoFundMe shows they raised just over $7,000 towards a goal of $302,000, and it appears to still be an active fundraiser, if you would like to donate.
According to documents filed with Camden County the building was purchased for $230,000, directly from the Gloucester Township Board of Education.
Another Muslim Community Center group that had also used the same Blackwood address, a year ago purchased the former Mary, Mother of the Church buildings in Bellmawr NJ. South Jersey Observer reported on that sale earlier this year.
The Grenloch School – Gloucester Township
The building dedication marker is still clearly visible at the front of the building, identifying it as “Grenloch School, Gloucester Township, Camden County NJ – 1916″
The marker lists the members of the building committee, as well as others who are believe made up the Board of Education in 1916.
The President is listed as Martin Schubert and the Vice President was Daniel Turner.
I was trying to see if this Schubert is the namesake for the road in front of Runnemede’s Triton High School, and if Daniel Turner was part of the family that Turnersville came from! I couldn’t find any conclusive evidence on that but if anyone has information and wants to share, I am happy to listen!
Considering the age of the building going back to before many of our area towns were even formed, I was trying to find some interesting history on the School (online) and only found a few things.
I imagine that the School Board or the Camden County Historical Society has more information or photos, but I did not research that far.
A 1924 articles tells us that 100 years ago the area was facing a pandemic of its own, when small pox was found in Erial and the Board of Health had ordered the school closed to prevent further transmission. I don’t think in 1924 they had “Zoom” for remote classes.
In the mid-1940s, Grenloch parents would hold Thanksgiving dinners in the basement of the school (1948 and 1949). Those articles in the Courier-Post feature photos of the children eating at tables!
An article in the Courier Post from the mid-1960s says the Grenloch school at that time was used to educate children with special needs.
A 1992 Courier-Post article states the then 115-pupil preschool program was to be consolidate into the Grenloch School.
The Gloucester Township Master Plan document from 1999 calls out the Grenloch school as at the time only housing kindergarten classes and some administration offices.
And lastly, Council Meeting minutes from 2016 capture residents question about the status of the school.
It was stated that it was owned by Board of Education and has been shut down for 5 or 6 years. He stated that the original offer was based on the presumption that it was 3 acres when it is only 1 ½ acres. Another resident also spoke about the Grenloch School, stating that she came before council and talked about the historical significance of the school. The minutes go on to say “Mr. Mercado stated that the Grenloch School is not the township’s building to save.”
Links and Location
Al-Manar Learning Center (Formerly Grenloch School Blackwood, NJ)
1125 S. Black Horse Pike
Blackwood, NJ 08012