Camden Courier-Post – January 28, 1928
Commissioner Rhone Tells Building Inspector, Fire Marshal to Investigate
DILAPIDATED STRUCTURE CALLED DEN OF THIEVES
State Street Residents Complain After Robbers Use House as Rendezvous
Termed a 'rendezvous of thieves, a haven for spooners and a general nightmare, the deserted and broken down mansion at Third and State Streets, was ordered torn down by Commissioner David S. Rhone, director of public safety.
'It's been a it public nuisance for several years and if the owners don't raze it after they are so notified, the city will,” Commissioner Rhone said.
Residents of the neighborhood declared yesterday that the old mansion has been a den for thieves, and that complaints to the city have gone unheeded. They said three robberies in one block in one week occurred this month because of it. The thieves, they explain watched the movements of the families from the deserted house, and robbed the dwellings after they had left for a few hours at night.
Once Palatial Home
The ramshackle building is at the northeast corner of Third and State Streets, opposite the James M. Cassady School. It was once the palatial residence of the late Augustus Reeve, brick manufacturer, but has been in a state of decay for about five years.
A “For Rent” sign has been on the property for a long period. Theater posters cover part of the exterior, its staircase has been torn away, practically all windows have been smashed by schoolboys and other marauders have removed doors, front steps and fence, and have ripped plaster from the walls.
Robberies attributed in the neighborhood to thieves, who used the dilapidated property as a “den”' were those at 313 State Street, next door, on January 7, 327 State Street, January 13, and 302 State Street, January 21. Police made no report of the facts, explaining to the victims that any release of information would interfere with the arrest of “a young man under suspicion in your own neighborhood.”
Orders Not Revealed
Commissioner Rhone indicated he had given orders to George Johnson, building inspector, and Bernard Gallagher, fire marshal, relative to the dilapidated property.
Commissioner Rhone declined to explain what orders he had given the building inspector and the fire marshal relative to the old property.
Johnson had said earlier in the day that he had received no orders from Commissioner Rhone. Later Johnson said he “did not know what the orders are.”
Questioned further and told that Rhone had said that he had given him orders Johnson said they pertained to “just see what the condition of the place was”.
“All the windows are out and the doors are off,” he said, reporting on an inspection he asserted he conducted. “If there is a health menace there, that comes under the health Department, not the building department.”
Asked what he would do about the place which was declared unsafe by the residents of the neighborhood, he said he did not know until he received “further orders” from Commissioner Rhone.
Gallagher, the fire marshal, could not be reached this morning.