Washington Township’s historic Olde Stone House on Egg Harbor Road currently features boarded up windows and doors on the first floor, as an historic restoration is under way to restore, repair and further protect the windows and doors for years to come.
And while I don’t really cover community events, when I visited the property over the weekend I saw that the Washington Township Historic Committee and Volunteers were on site preparing the extended village property for its amazing “The Magic of Christmas Event” which will be held on Saturday December 2nd.
While I did stop at the village this weekend and spoke to some of the volunteers, some aspects of the restoration commentary in this article are from a press release recently posted at the Olde Stone Village Facebook page. More on the project and Christmas event below!
The Olde Stone House
The Olde Stone House Village property is a collection of historic buildings on a 6+ acre property in Washington Township located along the busy Egg Harbor Road.
The namesake building is a stone home structure situated prominently on a slightly raised hill, somewhat close to Egg Harbor Road.
The building is a regular sight for commuters who drive on Egg Harbor Road every day!
The Olde Stone House is also identified as the “George Jr and Sarah Morgan House” and was built in 1765… over 250 years ago!
In 1980, the housing developer of the nearby Saddlebrook farms development donated the stone house to Washington Township. The Historical Committee led the efforts to restore the home and make it available to the community as a museum and community space.
At the time of the township’s acquisition in 1980, the house was in a state of bad repair. Adding to the restoration challenge, later that same year the building and the home suffered a fire!
In 1981 the Historical Society volunteers began an effort to restore the home to its original appearance. In 1986 the home was “dedicated”
Over the years the Historical Society has worked to maintain the home via grants and donations, and have also added several other buildings to the property to make it an historical village
For the Olde Stone House… is sufficiently significant to merit inclusion on the National Registry of Historic Sites partly because stone was an unusual building material in sandy South Jersey, and secondly, because of its unusual coursed ashlar façade, with squared blocks on the front of the building as opposed to the more usual random placing of stones.Connie McCart, Washington Twp Historic Preservation Commission
Today you will find that the windows and doors of the old stone building are boarded up with plywood.
For the stone home with its raised position and proximity to the busy Egg Harbor Road, several readers had reached out to 42Freeway asking about the boarded up doors and windows. Even a few commenters at the Olde Stone Village Facebook page wondered what the boarded up building meant.
But rest assured this is all part of a project to painstakingly restore the windows and doors of the over 250 year old building.
Amazing care and detail is being done to restore the existing windows and doors using techniques and materials which are recognized as maintaining the historic sanctity of the building
The restoration effort basically a manual “by hand” effort, being done by craftsmen at Gloucester City’s Window Repairs & Restoration.
The company specializes as a “historic preservation contractor” and has worked on other significant restoration projects such as the Independence Hall Tower and the Philadelphia City Hall
Fully focused on restoring the windows and doors in a manner which maintains the historic nature of the building, no nails are used in any of the restoration steps, they are using historic “mortise and tenon” techniques for the repairs.
No nails are being used, and in the areas where wood needs to be replaced.. the project architect has clearly defined what wood can be used.
A press release from the Historic Commission describes some of the current efforts underway, based on a visit to the restoration company’s facility.
One window, with wood that has held up pretty well, will only require stripping, coating with a special epoxy, and then repainting with an approved Sherwin Williams paint meant for historic work. Another will take more restoration or replacement of wood, and a third is missing its muntins and glass entirely (muntins are the cross pieces that hold the small panes of glass) and needs to be rebuilt. Specific woods are required by the architect and glass will be replaced with similar panes dating to the first restoration of the building in 1986. In all cases, a special chemical epoxy will coat the restored structures to prevent future water damage.
Likewise, the three doors to the house, two facing Egg Harbor Road and the third opening onto the herb garden in the rear, are in various states of disrepair. Wood rot has taken a toll and the white pine has in places softened considerably. At least one door will require a patch known as a ‘Dutchman’ which will be added with mitered edges to ensure stability.
Restoration work on the first-floor structures has been funded in part by the New Jersey Historic Preservation Fund through a Capital I grant, partially by the Washington Township Historic Preservation Commission, and also through a grant from the Donors’ Trust branch of the Americana Corner Foundation. Grants are provided and overseen by the Historic Preservation Commission, a group of volunteers appointed by the Township to oversee the Olde Stone House Village.Connie McCart, Washington Twp Historic Preservation Commission
In researching history of the home, I found an interesting piece of information which really connects the home with Washington Township!
A June 2004 contribution to the Philadelphia Inquirer from June Atkinson, informs that her husband James Atkinson was born in the Egg Harbor Road stone house back in 1927!
She states that for generations the Atkinson family lived in the home and farmed the nearby land.
Most area residents will likely recognize the name. James Atkinson served as Washington Township Mayor, won six terms as a Gloucester County Freeholder. He helped start the town’s first little league and youth football complexes. Today the Township’s large park on Bethel Mill Road is named the James G Atkinson Memorial Park!
I do not have a date on when the restoration work is expected to be completed
Olde Stone House Village – The Magic of Christmas
Over the years the volunteers worked to save other area historic buildings, which were brought over to the property. Today they have a small village of 6 different buildings.
Also on the property are The Blackwood Railroad Station, Bunker Hill Presbyterian Church, Turnersville Post Office, and the Charles Quay Farm House.
Each building has been lovingly restored and maintained by the volunteers. Inside the buildings, they are furnished for the period, along with additional historic artifacts of the region.
The buildings are open several times a year for special events, and on December 2nd they are hosting The Magic of Christmas
The buildings are decorated for Christmas, and volunteers are dressed in historic outfits and acting as tout guides. In my visit this past weekend I saw volunteers hanging decorations and cleaning up the property… leaf removal.
I have lived up the road in Deptford for 9 years, and finally last year I visited the Christmas event and honestly… I was blown away by how awesome the entire property and buildings are, as well as the effort the volunteers put into the event.
It makes me stop and think for a moment….stark contrast of our modern daily lives, racing off to Wawa or Starbucks… and not realizing the amazing history that is just a blurred vision right outside our car windows.
I am glad I visited last year.
I remember chatting with a volunteer young woman in the Charles Quay house. She was dressed in an 18th Century costume and was full of information on the history of the building and village, which she was excited to share.
The post office building is setup like a post office of a hundred plus years ago.
And the church… wow just the small intimacy of the space, and taking a moment to consider that this building was once the core meeting place for a community now gone.
Well I would recommend visiting!
For the one evening Christmas event on December 2nd, they will have a tree lighting ceremony at 5:30. There will be Polar Express readings, music, photos with Santa (you can mail your letter!), food, bake sale and vendors.
Parking is on-site. Volunteers help guide parking efforts.
Links and Location
Olde Stone Historic Village
208 Egg Harbor Rd
Sewell NJ 08080
The Magic of Christmas Event
Saturday December 2nd 5:30pm – 8:30pm