Cherry Hill to spruce up two landmarks Two historic farmsteads in need of repairs get a boost from a grant.

Posted: April 18, 2004

The Barclay and Croft family farms, where folks grew vegetables, raised cows, churned butter and hammered out horseshoes, are being preserved in Cherry Hill.

Sandra Ragonese, director of historic properties and programming for the township, said Cherry Hill recently had received a $22,875 grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust to complete restoration projects at both of the properties, which are owned and operated by the township.

At Barclay, the grant will help complete repairs to downspouts, interior plaster and brick pointing.

At Croft, the exterior of the farmhouse will be spruced up with a new coat of paint, and there will be minor repairs and painting of the octagonal icehouse, smokehouse, springhouse and carriage house.

"It will end up preserving Cherry Hill history," Ragonese said. "They are the focus of preserving what we have."

The township commissioned Westfield Architects & Preservation Consultants, of Haddon Heights, to draw up a preservation plan.

Margaret Westfield, a historic-preservation consultant and architect, said both farmsteads were in need of work to restore the buildings to their original designs.

At Croft, which dates to 1683, Westfield said a three-story addition to the property around 1816 was later torn down and replaced by a one-story structure. The three-story structure should be reconstructed, she said.

"If you're missing a historic element, then it can diminish the interpretation of the building," Westfield said.

At Barclay, Westfield said, a barn that was destroyed years ago should be reconstructed and used as support space for the museum and other buildings on the property.

"It would be a new use to complement the museum area. We have a chance to do something new and exciting," she said.

Westfield will discuss preservation of the farm properties and the care and maintenance of older homes in the township at a workshop Wednesday.

Croft Farm was established when Richard Matthews purchased 500 acres on both sides of Cooper Creek.

Ownership of the property changed hands several times until it was purchased by John Kay in 1710. Kay, a Quaker who had emigrated from England, used the property to run a sawmill. He later turned it over to his son Isaac, who added a gristmill.

The property remained in the Kay family until 1816, when it was sold to Thomas Evans. Evans upgraded the gristmill in 1839 and operated it until 1897, when it went bankrupt. The mill burned down in 1913.

The land was owned by the Evans family until 1924, when Thomas Evans' granddaughter Abigail Evans Willits sold it to Joseph Wallworth. Wallworth then sold 101 acres of the property to John W. Croft Jr. in 1925. Croft farmed the land, and the property remained farmland until about 1981.

In 1985, Cherry Hill Township purchased about 80 acres and the farmhouse from the Croft family. The town later converted the farmhouse into the Cherry Hill Arts Center, where concerts and other cultural events are held. It is at 100 Borton Mill-Evans Mill Rd.

The Barclay Farmstead was built in 1816 by John Thorn for his family. Joseph W. Cooper, a descendent of the founder of Camden, purchased the 168-acre site in 1826. The property remained in the Cooper family and was eventually owned by Cooper's great-granddaughter Helen Champion Barclay, who sold it to Cherry Hill Township for $335,000 in 1974.

The Barclay Farmstead is now used for education programs, public tours and other events. School groups are greeted by costumed guides who offer a taste of what life was like for 19th-century Quakers. The tour includes demonstrations of churning butter, spinning and weaving, and quilting and a visit to the blacksmith shop.

"They're learning about the history of the property and the Quaker way of life," Ragonese said.

Contact suburban staff writer Rosalee Polk Rhodes at 856-779-3237 or rrhodes@phillynews.com.

If You Go

What: "Cherry Hill Preserves Its Historic Properties" workshop presented by Margaret Westfield, historic-preservation consultant and architect.

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: Croft Farm, 100 Bortons Mill-Evans Mill Rd., Cherry Hill.

Phone: 856-795-6225.

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