A Tour of Moorestown’s Historic Architecture

Sideview of symmetrical Tudor style house surrounded by trees

In 1990, Moorestown’s Town Center was officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places (slightly before that designation, it also qualified for the New Jersey Register of Historic Places). Moorestown, NJ is truly an architectural connoisseur’s delight, featuring a wide variety of styles from the 18th to 21st centuries. With its Moorestown location housed in two local architecture highlights that are also part of the National Register of Historic Places, Perkins Center for the Arts realizes and appreciates the art of architecture and history as a proponent of all types of creative expression.

Perkins Center’s main building was built in 1910 and is a Tudor Revival style home designed by noted Philadelphia architect Herbert C. Wise. As the building’s 100th year has come and gone, we’ve been particularly interested and excited about its history and beauty and that of the community we hope to continue to serve for the next 100 years.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]The rambling picturesque house, abounding in nooks, changes of floor levels and unexpected features will be chosen by those in whose hearts is a vestige of the Gothic spirit. The stately and symmetrical house devoid of mystery or complexity will be adopted by those who love the sedate, Classic or Renaissance.

-Herbert C. Wise and H. Ferdinand Beidleman from the book, Colonial Architecture for Those About to Build[/su_pullquote]

Herbert C. Wise, the architect of Evergreen Lawn, Perkins Center’s Moorestown home, had a strong belief that the outdoor landscape and architecture located on that landscape had a harmonious relationship (he was one of the founding editors of House and Garden Magazine). He also held a belief that the architectural style one chose to create, live in or favor said something about one’s personality.

Moorestown, between the Spanish American War and World War II, demonstrated a cornucopia of architectural styles that fall under the Victorian Style and Arts and Crafts Movement. Buildings in the community were both inspired by the past with gambrel roofs (a roof with two slopes, a steeper lower and a flatter upper) and gable roofs (a two-sided roof that forms a top peak) as well as looking forward in simple modern styles.

Victorian Architecture

The Victorian Era derives its name from the reign of Queen Victoria in England. The Victorian architectural style was inspired by advances made in the industrial revolution. Mass production of tools, materials, hardware and building supplies made these items readily available and affordable. This availability resulted in the emergence of intricate architectural and design forms and techniques in England and America; symmetry was frowned upon bold colors and elaborate exteriors were embraced. A number of unique architecture styles fall under the “Victorian umbrella”. Two of the styles included in this tour are Gothic Revival and Queen Anne.
[su_spoiler title=”Gothic Revival”]Gothic Revival is part of the Victorian style and usually drew its inspiration from medieval buildings and forms. Common features to look for when trying to identify the Gothic Revival Style are: multi-colored and textured walls, steep pitches in roofs and around windows, and asymmetry in the front façade. Occasionally you can also find vergebord (also known as gingerbread) accenting areas around the roof or windows.[/su_spoiler][su_spoiler title=”Queen Anne”]Queen Anne is considered to be the most recognizable Victorian style, houses in this style were most popular between the 1870’s through the early 1900’s and were inspired by the old-English cottage. Common features include multiple steep roofs, porches with decorated gables, octagonal or circular towers, vergeboard (or gingerbread) details, stained glass, wall shingles and bay windows.[/su_spoiler]

Arts and Crafts Movement

As with all art movements, when a specific style of art reaches a certain level of prominence, there usually is a direct reaction to it and a new style emerges. The Arts and Crafts Movement called to return to the ideals of the honest use of materials and craftsmanship that characterized past eras (especially the Middle Ages) and evolved as a reaction to the increasing industrialization of the Victorian era. Unlike the Victorian buildings featuring intricate, elaborate designs and bold colors, Arts and Crafts buildings feature muted colors and decorations with more emphasis placed on the quality and craftsmanship of the structure. Like the Victorian style, a number of unique styles fall under the “Arts and Crafts umbrella”. Three styles included in this tour are Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival and the American Foursquare.
[su_spoiler title=”Tudor Revival”]Tudor Revival is an architecture style inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement that typically focused on brown, white and black color schemes and sometimes were combined with red brick. Exposed framing, thatch or shingle roofs and stone work are also key features.[/su_spoiler][su_spoiler title=”Colonial Revival”]Colonial Revival is the first architectural revival style that was based on American architecture. The various expositions and World’s Fairs that occurred in Philadelphia, Chicago, and St. Louis pointed back in time to the “Colonial” period as a simpler time with architecture of comparable simplicity which society wanted to recapture. This style favors simplicity and symmetry and buildings created in this style sought to follow the American colonial architecture of the period around the Revolutionary War. Colonial Revival buildings usually are two stories in height with the ridge pole (beam at the ridge of a roof to which the rafters are attached) running parallel to the street, a symmetrical front façade with an accented doorway and evenly spaced windows on either side of it.[/su_spoiler][su_spoiler title=”American Foursquare”]American Foursquare homes were a “modern” version of the colonial revival style home. A Foursquare house is typically a two-story house with a symmetrical square floor plan consisting of four square rooms on each floor, one in each corner. It often has a full-width porch supported by three or four columns.[/su_spoiler]

Victorian and Arts & Crafts Movement Architecture examples in Moorestown

English and Colonial

Moorestown Community House
16 East Main Street

The Community House is a combination of English and Colonial style, which is explained by this excerpt from their website:

The cost of maintaining the structure was a key consideration in the architectural style of the building. When some townspeople questioned why the building wasn’t colonial in design, the architects sent a letter of explanation to the local newspaper. They said that the building was actually a combination of English and Colonial styles, and that the chief advantage of their design was that the building’s maintenance and upkeep would “cost practically nothing because of its brick and stone exterior. If, on the other hand, it were Colonial in style, the windows, shutters, cornices and columns would have to be made out of wood. And wood rots and constantly has to be replaced.

This community-style building is a 2 1/2 story brick with u-shaped symmetrical wings. Its center section has double leaf door capped by a sandstone lintel; the first floor features two projecting bay windows with 8-light windows all surrounded by sandstone. Throughout the building you will find multi-light windows surrounded by sandstone. Five gables project at the second story. The Community House also features 1-story brick wings with casement windows (windows hinged at the side) surrounded by stone and corbelled, or decorative brick-work chimneys.

Our-Lady-of-Good-CounselQueen Anne

Our Lady of Good Counsel Rectory
42 W. Main Street

Homes built in the Queen Anne are simple wood or brick buildings with a variety of shapes and decorative details. The Rectory is a 3-story, 3-register dressed stone rectory, featuring a cross-gable on the hipped roof with half timbering and stucco on the third floor. It has a pediment wood portico with a double leaf, glazed and paneled door beneath a 6-light transom (horizontal opening above a door or window). A half-timbering technique is found in gabled end roof. The second story features double hung windows with four double hung windows in the gable roof. Paired single pane and multi-light windows along with a bracketed cornice and slate roof also detail the building.

Queen Anne

10 High Street
ca. 1900

The Queen Anne decorative style shows in this 2-story style slate gambrel roof house. Decorative elements in this example are found in the eaves, the pediment porch with turned baluster railing, and supporting columns. It also has a double leaf, glazed and paneled door; double hung windows (a window which operates by means of two sashes that slide vertically past each other) on both first and second floors, and three projecting gable roofs with carved brackets.

Other decorative features often found in Queen Anne homes are towers, turrets, bay windows, and stained glass.

Colonial Revival

7 West Prospect Avenue

Addison Hutton, Philadelphia Architect

The plan of a typical Colonial building is a rectangle, along whose shorter axis extends a hall, with egress at both ends and giving a vista through the building.

-Herbert C. Wise and H. Ferdinand Beidleman from the book Colonial Architecture for Those About to Build

This is a beautifully restored 2 1/2 story, 5-register Colonial Revival clapboarded house on a brick foundation. The porch features columns and turned balusters. The front door has Victorian sidelights and transom over the top. It also features double hung sash windows with paneled shutters on the first floor and louvered on second. Both the dormer windows and the main roof are a gable style.

American Foursquare

1 West Prospect Avenue
ca. 1910

The American Foursquare style is part of the Colonial Revival style, the name coming from the simple shape of the home and the impression that it looks like squares stacked atop each other which is easily seen in this exemplary building.

It is a 2 1/2 story, three-register (three windows across) house featuring a Colonial Revival porch with turned balustrades. A glazed and paneled entry with semicircular fanlight and sidelights; paired double hung windows with paneled and louvered shutters (shutters with horizontal, moveable slats). A dormer window can be found above the center register.

Tudor Revival

Perkins Center for the Arts
395 Kings Highway

Herbert C. Wise, Philadelphia Architect

Perkins Center was built in the Tudor Revival style, one of the architecture styles that came out of the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is a 2 ½ story stone and stucco building containing common Tudor Revival features including uncut stone laid in irregular courses, exposed framing and the incorporation of red brick in the entrance walkway and landing in front of the main entrance. Large porches flank the house on the east and west and are supported by painted wood columns clustered in groups of three. The roof originally was clad in cedar shingles. The main building is situated on a 5 ½ acre arboretum which was originally the Perkins family tree nursery prior to construction of the home and carriage house.

Additional examples of the referenced architectural styles:

24 East Central Avenue, 129 East Central Avenue,
122 West Main Street, 258 West Main Street,
3 East Second Street
37 East Main Street
128 East Oak Avenue

215 East Main Street
10 High Street
42 W. Main Street

16 East Oak Avenue, 329 Chester Avenue,
29 East Central Avenue, 154 East Main Street,
224 East Main Street
203 East Main Street
7 West Prospect Avenue

2 East Oak Avenue, 30 East Central Avenue,
266 West Main Street
2 East Oak Avenue
1 West Prospect Avenue