The Year 1829 – Camden, NJ

Camden, NJ's first City Hall built in 1844

SPAN OF A CENTURY, 1828-1928


Compiled from notes and data collected by Charles S. Boyer, President Camden County Historical Society. Published by Centennial Anniversary Committee of Camden, New Jersey. Additional Photos and Notes by Phillip Cohen in 2003.

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Camden’s first City Hall was erected in 1829, pursuant to an ordinance of City Council passed June 18, 1828, appointing John K. Cowperthwaite, Samuel Lanning, and Richard Fetters as commissioners to purchase a plot of ground and build a jail and a courthouse. The commissioners were also authorized to borrow $2500 at 6% interest from Jacob Evaul for this purpose, the funds of the corporation being pledged for the loan. The commissioners secured lots 32, 33, and 34 on the plan of Camden Village, situated on the south side of Federal street between Fourth and Fifth Streets, and erected a stone building two stories in height, the attic, which was of brick, being added later. The lower floor was used as a lock-up, the second floor as a council chamber, and the attic as a city court room. The entrance to the council chamber was by a wooden stairway from the pavement. In 1862 a one-story building was added to each end of the building, one side being the office of the mayor and the other that of the clerk.

The building was torn down in 1878 to make room for a market house which in turn was demolished in 1900 and the building of the Public Service Corporation erected. This building, still standing in 2003, has been the home of the Camden Free Public Library since 1986.

The first Lodge of Odd Fellows in New Jersey organized in the rooms in Vauxhall Gardens on March 30, 1829, as New Jersey Lodge No. 1. Thomas Wildey, organizer of the first lodge in the United States, instituted this lodge in person.

The city, by ordinance passed March 19, 1829, established maximum rates which inns and taverns within the city limits could charge the traveling public. Some of the charges at the time are interesting in comparison with the rates 175 years later. For instance here are a few of the rates from 1829:

  • Breakfast: 25 cents
  • Dinner in common: 25 cents
  • Dinner extraordinary: 37.5 cents
  • Supper: 25 cents
  • Lodging per night: 25 cents


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