Morgan’s Hall, also known as Morgan Hall, was built by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The cornerstone of Morgan’s Hall, or as it was originally called, Odd Fellows Hall, at the southeast corner of Fourth and Market Streets, was laid on October 5, 1848. The building was dedicated on November 8, 1849. It was originally a three-story structure sixty feet long and thirty six feet wide.
The venture proving too great an undertaking for the lodges interested, it was sold about 1851 by the Sheriff to John Morgan for about $6,000 and re-named Morgan’s Hall, by which it was ever since known. In 1866 Morgan added sixty feet to the eastern end of the building and also a suite of rooms in the rear for a private residence. The entire building was covered with stucco in May of 1867. John Morgan served as Mayor of the City of Camden for a year, completing the term of deceased Mayor John H. Jones in 1877. John Morgan passed away in December of 1881.
Prior to the opening of the Temple Theater, directly across the street at 415 Market Streets, Morgan’s Hall was considered the fanciest public meeting place in Camden. In May of 1889, Walt Whitman celebrated his 70th birthday with a banquet at the Hall. Located at 418 Market Street, Morgan’s Hall sat adjacent to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Nationally known dance instructor Harry Roselle taught dancing at Morgan’s Hall for 35 years until his death in 1932. Walter Giffins, who lived in Pennsauken, was managing the premises in the mid-1930s. His wife Ernestine had been a dance instructor, and during the the 1930s dances were held there. A 1933 newspaper advertisement mentions The Owl’s Studio as occupying the premises and hosting a dance, and I believe it is quite possible that the Giffins’ succeeded Roselle in business.
Morgan’s Hall was still in use as late as 1947. The building was razed in 1955 and a two story office building was erected in its place.
Wildey Hall was built in 1868 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and was named for Thomas Wildey who formed the first Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge in NJ, in Camden, in 1829.
The Owl’s Studio
In the early 1930s The Owl’s Studio was located in Morgan’s Hall, a building that stood for many years at 418 Market Street. I know little else about the place. The band mentioned below was out of Trenton NJ. The Hotel Hildebrecht, pictured below, was a popular spot in Trenton, and on the outside appears similar to Camden’s Walt Whitman Hotel. Sadly it met a similar fate, and was razed in the 1980s.
The Year 1848 – Camden, NJ
In 1852 a plot of ground at Second and Cherry Streets was purchased for $3200 and upon it was erected the first gas works in Camden.
Morgan’s Hall, also known as Morgan Hall, was built by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The cornerstone of Morgan’s Hall, or as it was originally called, Odd Fellows Hall, at the southeast corner of Fourth and Market Streets, was laid on October 5, 1848.
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