CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

CAMDEN COUNTY COURTHOUSE

Under the provisions of the act creating Camden County an election to choose a County Seat was held on August 12, 1845. Camden received 1062 votes, Gloucester 822 votes, Haddonfield 422 votes, and Mount Ephraim 33 votes; a total of 2339. The act required that the place chosen should poll a majority of all votes cast. No one place having secured this majority, a second election was held on April 28, 1846, with a similar result. Of 2004 votes cast, Camden received 963, Mount Ephraim 527, White House 328, Chews Landing 98; and 98 votes were scattered to different places.

The third election was held on June 2, 1846, and the votes was Camden 1440; Long-a-coming, which is present-day Berlin 1550, and 3 votes were scattered, a total of 2944 votes. Legislation and legal proceedings, however, followed this election and Long-a-Coming was denied her victory/ The question as to the conduct of the election was taken to the Supreme Court which decided against Camden and then on a writ of error to the Court of Errors and Appeals which also decided against Camden. In the meantime, plans were being made to erect County buildings at Long-a-coming, but before the plans were completed the Legislature, in march of 1848, directed that another election should be held for the selection of a county seat. This election tool place April 7, 1848 with the following result: Camden 2445, Haddonfield 794, Long-a-coming 705, a total of 3944 votes. This apparently settled the place where the county buildings should be located. Notwithstanding the result, the Board of freeholders refused to abide by the decision, and it was only after a peremptory order had been issued by the Supreme Court that a committee was appointed, on December 1, 1851, to select a site in the city of Camden.

The selection of a site in Camden opened up another controversy. John W. Mickle, who had been active in the Legislative fight, was president of the Federal Street Ferry Company, and Abraham Browning, who had led the legal fight, was, with his brothers, heavily invested in the Market Street ferry. it was believed that the location of the Court House would have a large influence in determining to which ferry the travel might be diverted. As a compromise, the building was finally located on the nearest lot to the river which would be midway between the two principal streets leading to the ferries, namely, Market and Federal Streets.  .

The ground upon which the Camden County Court House once stood, which became Lit Brothers Department Store, and has been a Camden County office building for many years at Broadway and Federal Street was purchased from Abigail Cooper in 1848 at a cost of $500.00

This location was selected because it was midway between Market and Federal Streets and therefore an equal distance from both the Market Street Ferry (Browning's Ferry) and Federal Street Ferry (of which John W. Mickle was president). The contract for a building was awarded on August 2, 1852 to Daniel A., Hall for $26,800, upon condition that it be completed by July 1, 1853. Samuel Sloan was selected as architect. The building was of brick rough cast and was 50' by 150'. Its cost including furnishings was $40,970.79. 

In 1875 there was built on the Market Street side of the court yard a one-story brick building, to which a second story was later added, for use by the County Clerk, Surrogate, and Register of Deeds. In 1885 the jail building on the Federal Street side of the court yard was completed after having been altered to a court house and then back to a jail. This building is sometimes referred to as the "Second Courthouse", as exemplified in the April 1906 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, reprinted below. A more accurate appraisal is to consider it an add-on to the first.

On February 2, 1904, the county officials moved out of the old Court House, which was subsequently torn down to make room for the new structure. County Collector Mahlon F. Ivins Sr. was the last official to leave his office. During the erection of the new building the courts were held in the City HallWorkmen tearing down the old Court House were unable to find any cornerstone.

By 1906 the new Courthouse had been completed and occupied. The two buildings that had been added on for the County Clerk and for the jail were demolished that year.

The First Camden County Courthouse

The First Camden County Courthouse

The photograph is from around 1905-1906,
The newly built Second Courthouse is visible in background, Access to the building had been block by a wall, upon which advertisements had been placed for theatrical presentations.   The stage adaptation of novelist Harold MacGrath's The Man On The Box is advertised on the lower right hand corner of the wall   

Click on Image to Enlarge - Click Here to Supersize Image

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 10, 1906

...continued...

...continued...
William Hope - Thomas Dudley - James McFadden - John Ware
John W. Armstrong - Benjamin Hunter - Thomas Graham - Chalkley Leconey
Annie Leconey -
Charles G. Garrison - Samuel H. Grey - D.J. Pancoast
Joseph H. Gaskill - Annie Miller - Francis Lingo - Sarah Shaw 
Emma Zane - Eli Shaw -
Paul Woodward - W. Price Jennings
William Coffin - James Moulton - Lydia Ann Watts - Theodore Lambert
William K. Kairer - Edward Oswald -
George M. Robeson  

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 10, 1906

John H. Jones
Edward S. King
John Day
Morris Hollock
Joseph Thackera
Thomas McDowell
Theodore Lambert
Robert Hill
Francesco Abbatto
William Moulton
John Hill
Samuel Vanstavern
Paul Woodward
Lafayette Gruff

The First Camden County Courthouse

LEFT" "CAMDEN COUNTY Courthouse is one of the "views of Camden" published in 1879 by the New York Daily Graphic. Printed from a wood­cut." - Camden Courier-Post May 19, 1964.

This is DEAD WRONG!!!

The building pictured is the same as the one pictured below, also mislabeled "Old Court House". It is a postcard, photo taken in 1880, and mailed in 1893. The Soldiers' Monument now in front of Cooper Hospital stood in front of what was then City Hall. The clock tower, is barely visible behind the monument. 

Bottom: Mailed July 4, 1905 "City Hall & Monument, Camden NJ.

Click on Image to Enlarge

 

The cornerstone of the new Courthouse was laid with impressive ceremonies on August 18, 1904. This building served Camden County into the 1950s. The City of Camden erected a large City Hall building behind the Courthouse, on 5th Street, which was occupied in 1931. 

The Second Camden County Courthouse

Above left: the new Courthouse prior to its dedication. Above Right: The new Courthouse after completion in 1906. County business was conducted at Camden's City Hall during the period of construction. 

Note that in these times, Broadway ended at Market Street. The Church of the Immaculate Conception is visible on the far right.

Above: Looking North from Federal Street, winter of 1905 or 1906. Picture is from postcard mailed in 1907. Catholic Lyceum is visible at right. Below: A view of Federal Street and Arch Street from the roof of the Catholic Lyceum at Broadway and Federal Street, published in 1915.

Above left: the new Courthouse in the early 1900. Above Right: The new Courthouse early 1920s.

Click on Image to Enlarge

The Second Camden County Courthouse - 1906

The "New" Camden Courthouse - 1906 The Camden Courthouse
The Camden Courthouse The Camden Courthouse
CAMDEN CITY HALL
&
COUNTY COURT HOUSE
1931 through 1956

Camden Courier-Post - August 4, 1936

Over the next two decades, more and more Camden County offices moved to the new building, which was eventually closed down. The second courthouse was demolished in the mid-1950s to make way for a new building, the Lit Brothers Department Store. 

Camden
Courier-Post

February 11, 1950

Click on Image to Enlarge

The economic down turn in Camden and the rest of urban America resulted in the Lit Brothers store closing in the early 1970s. Camden County reoccupied the site which had been its home for so many years, and the old Lit Brothers building has been the home of Camden County offices for over 30 years, as of this April 2004 writing.

Broadway & Federal Street - mid-1950sB

In the early 1950s the old courthouse was demolished, to make way for Lit Brothers Department Store. Camden Catholic High School, at right in upper right hand photo, was destroyed by fire in 1960. The Munger & Long Building, visible in the photograph below right, which had been occupied J.C. Penney's since the 1930s, would also be razed, in the 1960s.

Click on Image to Enlarge

In the 1980s a new court house was completed, on South 4th Street between Mickle and Taylor Streets, which is known as the Camden County Hall of Justice. A new county jail was also built, directly to the west of the new Hall of Justice. The jail, whose nominal address is 330 Federal Street, fills up the land between Federal and Mickle Street, east of South 3rd to the point at which the Hall of Justice grounds begin on the Mickle Street side, and where land used by the Free Library of the City of Camden commences on the Federal Street side.

Camden County
Hall of Justice

As it appears in 2004

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