Courtesy of The Courier Post – Delegates to the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions took a walking tour of Haddonfield earlier this month during their convention in Philadelphia as they took in the rich Haddonfield History.
They visited the construction site of Brandywine Living at Haddonfield, where new living quarters are being built to blend in with a historic Warwick Road property dating to the 1850s.
“They came to see our site to show that modern quality can co-exist and keep the character of a historic town,” said Brenda Bacon, president and CEO of Brandywine.
Retaining that character added a layer of scrutiny Brandywine had not encountered at its other assisted living residences.
The company acquired the 52-unit former Haddonfield Home in late 2011 as part of a deal that included similar developments in Pennington, Wall and Watchung. At the time, there were more than 30 residents.
The residential addition in Haddonfield, built in 1953, had a lot going for it. But as Bacon noted, the new owners had concerns: small living quarters; narrow hallways; apartments without showers, bathrooms or kitchenettes; a single elevator; communal space in a windowless basement.
“All activities were in the basement with no natural light,” Bacon said. “It needed a lot of work. We knew this when we acquired the property.
“We looked at a lot of options. Do we gut or completely demolish?”
Demolition won the day. But the historic part of the building stayed.
“The community does not want it to go,” Bacon said. “It has significance to the streetscape.”
Brandywine had to seek the blessing of the Haddonfield Historic Preservation Commission before work could commence.
“It took seven months to go through the process in partnership with the commission and local officials,” Bacon related. “We also had several meetings with neighbors.”
The commission recommended approval and Brandywine was very receptive, said Chairwoman Lee Albright.
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