Taunton Mansion

PinesExplr

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Dec 7, 2005
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Medford, NJ
I drive past this place all the time and wonder who owns it and if it's protected (it certainly looks unique and of historical value). Does anyone live there who can comment on it's condition inside? It looks like small apartments or rooms - always many cars outside.

Got a great view of the lake and a nice cupola (restored?).

ed
 

Oriental

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Apr 21, 2005
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I grew up across the lake from the mansion at Taunton. We always called it to Larsen Mansion as it was owned by that family since the 20's when the heirs of Joseph Hinchman (early cranberry pioneer) sold the tract to investors who began subdividing and selling off lots to people who wanted to put up summer cottages. My grandparents were one of the earlier buyers (mid 40's)and my brother still has the correspondence between the Larsen's and my grandparents regarding the purchase of lots there. Since I was a kid the Mansion consisted of a half dozen apartments (rented) and the ice house which was used by Carter Larsen when he came back to visit Taunton (from California). It was purchased a couple of years ago and apparently the new owner has done alot of work to try and restore the place.

The book by the Medford Historical Society (Pioneering Township) states that the mansion is circa 1830 which must have been toward the end of the "iron era" at Taunton and prior the the "cranberry era".

Just across the stream from the mansion, you can see the substantial iron stone foundation of the large cranberry packing house that served as the "Cranberry House School" until it burned down in a spectacular blaze in the early 1970's. The ruins are just behind the office building and across the street from the Blockbuster.

Incidentally, it was Hinchman and his bogs at Taunton that inspired brothers-in-law Joseph Evans and Joshua Wills to ask Joshua's father for the Friendship tract where they began their enormous enterprise. The Evans family lived just 4-5 miles down the road in Evesham and along with Wills (of Medford), they later developed the Willow Farm bogs which in now King's Grant.

I have great memories of growing up at Taunton. Alot has changed in 41 years. It really has an amazing history. Ah, the stories I could tell!

Rich
 
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Teegate

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Nice report Rich!

In 1971 I rode motorcycles in the bogs that were Kings Grant, and we would go to the small store that was just across the road from the Cranberry House School. The road out of the woods came out right at that intersections so it was easy getting there. We would rest up by walking across the street to the old gas station on the corner and roam around there. It was a very quiet intersection then where you could stand in the road for long stretches and not have a car go by. Not the same anymore.

I remember hearing on the radio and reading the newspaper articles on the fire that destroyed the building.


Guy
 

Oriental

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In 1971 I rode motorcycles in the bogs that were Kings Grant, and we would go to the small store that was just across the road from the Cranberry House School. The road out of the woods came out right at that intersections so it was easy getting there. We would rest up by walking across the street to the old gas station on the corner and roam around there. \
Guy
The little store used to be called Rips. It closed down around the time that the Cumberland Farms went up. We used to call the gas station "Bob's" beacuse that was the owner's name. I think the service station that is there is called Mayer's now. In Bob's there was one of those old Coca-Cola machines where you would get the 6-1/2 oz. returnable bottles for 25 cents. My older brothers and cousins used to pick up the old bottles on the side of the roads and return them for a few cents each.
 

Teegate

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Well, I now know that the old store was not there in 1971 because it was the Cumberland Farms when we went there. It appeared new so Rips must have just closed.

I wish I had a camera with me back then, because I saw those bogs destroyed more and more each week we visited. We were on one occasion chased by one of those big earth movers with the large tires. Two of us were on the motorcycle which was quite slow and they purposely went after us. Looking at it now we should not have been there, but we were big men going into high school and were invincible :(

Guy
 

PinesExplr

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Dec 7, 2005
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Medford, NJ
Thks Oriental & TeeGate:

Great stories, that covers my questions from all angles - I grew up near Rt70 & 73 and remember dairy farms, peach and apple orchards. Taunton felt as remote and rustic as a far away outpost in the wilds to me as a boy. I always loved that sense of solitude and smell of pine.

Oriental: Do you happen to know anything about the bogs upstream from Taunton on the north side of Jackson Rd. -- named Jobstown bogs (or who Jobs was ?)?
 

Oriental

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Apr 21, 2005
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Thks Oriental & TeeGate:

Oriental: Do you happen to know anything about the bogs upstream from Taunton on the north side of Jackson Rd. -- named Jobstown bogs (or who Jobs was ?)?
I wish I had more info on that. I remember someone (probably you) posting about those bogs being in their back yard. Hinchman's bogs went from Centennial Lake (named because they were built in 1876 or because the Centennial variety of cranberry was planted there?) through Taunton, Lake Pine, and Oakwood Lakes down to Oliphants Mill. I also believe they extended upstream from Taunton in the direction of Mimosa Lake and most of the Lakes that made up the former Lenape Boy Scout Camp (more great memories of Lenape). However, I always doubted that the Jobstown bogs were ever part of his holdings. It just doesn't make sense that they would have a separate name like that. Joseph Hinchman died in the late 1890's and a relative, Samuel Hinchman, ran the bogs for perhaps 20+ more years. I think the map that shows the Jobstown bogs would suggest that they were never owned by Hinchman unless he bought them after they were built. Scott's 1876 atlas shows that the Medford Cranberry Co. owned land in that area. That enterprise may have been more closely associated with the West Jersey bogs which eventually came into the hands of the Brick Family and their "Cranberry Co. of Medford". I'll keep looking.

I would love to get confirmation of a suspicion of mine that Birchwood Lakes and all of the small bogs that make up Medford Lakes were Hinchman's at one time.

You can still find the remains of old abandoned bogs all over that part of Medford. Right behind Cranberry Pines School are dikes, dams, and gates. You can also see some old bogs on Fairview Road not far from Jackson.
 

PinesExplr

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Dec 7, 2005
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Medford, NJ
yep, me - still wonder'n (aloud)

I wish I had more info on that. I remember someone (probably you) posting about those bogs being in their back yard. Hinchman's bogs went from Centennial Lake (named because they were built in 1876 or because the Centennial variety of cranberry was planted there?) through Taunton, Lake Pine, and Oakwood Lakes down to Oliphants Mill. I also believe they extended upstream from Taunton in the direction of Mimosa Lake and most of the Lakes that made up the former Lenape Boy Scout Camp (more great memories of Lenape). However, I always doubted that the Jobstown bogs were ever part of his holdings. It just doesn't make sense that they would have a separate name like that. Joseph Hinchman died in the late 1890's and a relative, Samuel Hinchman, ran the bogs for perhaps 20+ more years. I think the map that shows the Jobstown bogs would suggest that they were never owned by Hinchman unless he bought them after they were built. Scott's 1876 atlas shows that the Medford Cranberry Co. owned land in that area. That enterprise may have been more closely associated with the West Jersey bogs which eventually came into the hands of the Brick Family and their "Cranberry Co. of Medford". I'll keep looking.

I would love to get confirmation of a suspicion of mine that Birchwood Lakes and all of the small bogs that make up Medford Lakes were Hinchman's at one time.

You can still find the remains of old abandoned bogs all over that part of Medford. Right behind Cranberry Pines School are dikes, dams, and gates. You can also see some old bogs on Fairview Road not far from Jackson.
Thks, I just find it very interesting that there was such actvitiy and economic interests in this area.. say 140 years ago, and little record of exactly what and when. I'm guessing extensive bogs in the 1860-1900.. then nothing for years -- until development around the edges in the last 30 years. Clearly, private hunting areas, but also remains of buildings, some look old -- some witin the last 40 years.

I'd certainly be willig to help diggin up some of the history - if I knew where to start. Arieal phots from the 1940-70s would help determine if the bogs were active in the 1st 1/2 of last century - there are very old cedar trees in many of those bogs.
 

Teegate

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It would be interesting to know where all the dwellings were in that area over the years. There were people living at the West Jersey Cranberry Bogs in 1937.

Samuel Prince and Miss Mamie Chew, both of West Jersey Cranberry bogs, were united in marriage at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Deissler, Branch street, Medford, at 7 o'clock on the evening of July 6. The ceremony was performed by Rev. George Thompson in the presence of a few friends. Clinton Prickitt acted as best man. A reception followed the ceremony.

And in 1908.

... The body of James Morton, who died from apoplexy at the West Jersey cranberry bogs near Atsion, on June 28, was held by undertaker William Reilly until yesterday, and as no claimant appeared it was interred at public expense. Morton had been in this section about ten years. He was well educated and had "seen better days," but he kept his past a secret.


Guy
 

Oriental

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Apr 21, 2005
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It would be interesting to know where all the dwellings were in that area over the years. There were people living at the West Jersey Cranberry Bogs in 1937.

Samuel Prince and Miss Mamie Chew, both of West Jersey Cranberry bogs, were united in marriage at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Deissler, Branch street, Medford, at 7 o'clock on the evening of July 6.

Guy
I think that the only "dwellings" at West Jersey Bogs now are trailers that serve to house the seasonal labor. I am just guessing that the place was not very busy outside of the growing/harvesting season. Perhaps there were a couple of year long residents there to keep an eye on things but maybe they just headed to civilization in the winter.

The wedding announcement is interesting. The Brick family (owners of WJB) lived in downtown Medford. In fact, J. R. Brick was the Mayor of Medford at one time. Among the other Brick family enterprises is Medford Concrete which is between Branch Street and Rt70. I think the concrete business was linked to their silo business.

It is my understanding that all of the berries harvested at West Jersey are "dry picked" by mechanical harvesters. The berries and chaff are bagged in burlap and transported to the packing house which sits behind the Stove Works on Branch Street in Medford. As the train station was just a block away, getting the product to market was easy.
 

Lenape

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Jun 9, 2014
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I grew up across the lake from the mansion at Taunton. We always called it to Larsen Mansion as it was owned by that family since the 20's when the heirs of Joseph Hinchman (early cranberry pioneer) sold the tract to investors who began subdividing and selling off lots to people who wanted to put up summer cottages. My grandparents were one of the earlier buyers (mid 40's)and my brother still has the correspondence between the Larsen's and my grandparents regarding the purchase of lots there. Since I was a kid the Mansion consisted of a half dozen apartments (rented) and the ice house which was used by Carter Larsen when he came back to visit Taunton (from California). It was purchased a couple of years ago and apparently the new owner has done alot of work to try and restore the place.

The book by the Medford Historical Society (Pioneering Township) states that the mansion is circa 1830 which must have been toward the end of the "iron era" at Taunton and prior the the "cranberry era".

Just across the stream from the mansion, you can see the substantial iron stone foundation of the large cranberry packing house that served as the "Cranberry House School" until it burned down in a spectacular blaze in the early 1970's. The ruins are just behind the office building and across the street from the Blockbuster.

Incidentally, it was Hinchman and his bogs at Taunton that inspired brothers-in-law Joseph Evans and Joshua Wills to ask Joshua's father for the Friendship tract where they began their enormous enterprise. The Evans family lived just 4-5 miles down the road in Evesham and along with Wills (of Medford), they later developed the Willow Farm bogs which in now King's Grant.

I have great memories of growing up at Taunton. Alot has changed in 41 years. It really has an amazing history. Ah, the stories I could tell!

Rich
Thank you for writing about the "Cranberry House School." I had no idea it was there and I went over to see the ruins, the foundation is still there. I can't find any information about that school but I have only just begun to look. I would love to find a photo of that building. Do you know if Cranberry Pines School received its name partly from being built down the street from the old packing warehouse/school? Thanks for any help.
 

MikeBickerson

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Feb 8, 2004
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I think that the only "dwellings" at West Jersey Bogs now are trailers that serve to house the seasonal labor. I am just guessing that the place was not very busy outside of the growing/harvesting season. Perhaps there were a couple of year long residents there to keep an eye on things but maybe they just headed to civilization in the winter.

The wedding announcement is interesting. The Brick family (owners of WJB) lived in downtown Medford. In fact, J. R. Brick was the Mayor of Medford at one time. Among the other Brick family enterprises is Medford Concrete which is between Branch Street and Rt70. I think the concrete business was linked to their silo business.

It is my understanding that all of the berries harvested at West Jersey are "dry picked" by mechanical harvesters. The berries and chaff are bagged in burlap and transported to the packing house which sits behind the Stove Works on Branch Street in Medford. As the train station was just a block away, getting the product to market was easy.
ha! Lived with a member of the Brick family for several years. They still harvest (I believe right in Medford), had piles of cranberry boxes in the garage when I helped move furniture.
 

Tim

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Sep 16, 2015
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Thank you for writing about the "Cranberry House School." I had no idea it was there and I went over to see the ruins, the foundation is still there. I can't find any information about that school but I have only just begun to look. I would love to find a photo of that building. Do you know if Cranberry Pines School received its name partly from being built down the street from the old packing warehouse/school? Thanks for any help.

I have dyslexia and ADHD and went to the school for tutoring (which was all but useless because no one in those days knew about it). Robert Hoffman and his wife were teachers who ran the school. My parents were social friends with them and were there many times. They lived in the house as well.

Later, I actually took care of the two horses they had for the children to ride. I was in California and came home the night the place burned down. We always thought it was haunted before the Hoffman's took it over.
 
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Tim

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Sep 16, 2015
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The little store used to be called Rips. It closed down around the time that the Cumberland Farms went up. We used to call the gas station "Bob's" beacuse that was the owner's name. I think the service station that is there is called Mayer's now. In Bob's there was one of those old Coca-Cola machines where you would get the 6-1/2 oz. returnable bottles for 25 cents. My older brothers and cousins used to pick up the old bottles on the side of the roads and return them for a few cents each.
My father's best friend cut meat there. Rip was an awesome guy who helped people a lot. He ran a tab for paycheck to paycheck families.

The gas station was owned by Mr. Lifefine (sic). His son was a friend of mine. They lived in Mimosa Lakes. Artie, my friend, drowned in the lake when he fell through thin ice.
 
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relayer

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I thought that this building was Taunton Mansion. After talking to a couple of guys who grew up around there I think of the surviving building as the hotel :) BTW - a house pretty similar to this, it may be the portico that does it, may still, I think, be found in or around Atco. As usual, I have forgotten the proper location.
ztauntonforgmansnevmickle.jpg
 

Tim

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To us, it was always Cranberry or Blue Lake House. I've never seen that picture. Really cool. There is one extant building around the corner, at the corner of Breakneck and Hopewell.
 
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Oriental

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I thought that this building was Taunton Mansion. After talking to a couple of guys who grew up around there I think of the surviving building as the hotel :) BTW - a house pretty similar to this, it may be the portico that does it, may still, I think, be found in or around Atco. As usual, I have forgotten the proper location.View attachment 6246
That photo is of the iron master's house that was located between the "hotel" and the Taunton dam. It was torn down in the 1950's. The ice house from that era still remains. The "hotel" was (contrary to some accounts) probably built in the 1850's but only served in the function for a short period. Later it was used as a cranberry house. The reason we used to refer to the existing building as the Larsen Mansion comes from its subsequent use as a residence and real estate office when Taunton was being developed as a summer community.
 
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Tim

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The Cranberry House became a day school when the Hoffman's took it over. It burned down in, as I recall, 1975. We were coming back from a trip to California. We saw this orange red glow in the sky. It was the house.
 
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relayer

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Thanks Oriental, that cleared things up. So I was looking for some other pictures of either place and this is the one that turned up. Looks like some really smart people discussing the place back in July of 2012 :) See you Saturday.
Taunton Hotel.jpg