Historical Society on a mission to save barn dating back to 1800s

The Historical Society of Moorestown is soliciting proposals from the public to save historic barn located on Main Street.

Nestled behind Aunt Selma’s Chocolate & Candy Company and Maurizio’s Bistro on Moorestown’s Main Street is a barn dating back to the 1800s. The original property owner of the land where the barn sits was Alfred Burr though it’s unclear as to whether he commissioned the barn’s building or not.

Nestled behind Aunt Selma’s Chocolate & Candy Company and Maurizio’s Bistro is something you wouldn’t expect to find along the thriving, commercialized strip of Main Street: a barn dating back to to the 1800s.

When the Historical Society of Moorestown learned the barn was slated to be torn down and replaced with office space, they approached property owner Joseph Ventresca about potentially saving the sliver of history. Today, the historical society is soliciting proposals from Moorestown residents in hopes of giving the barn a second life.

“We want to get as much public interest as possible in hopes that people with the necessary resources might have an interest in doing something with the barn, saving it and putting it somewhere else where it could be viewed by the public,” Historical Society trustee Elizabeth Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said the barn dates back to either the 1840s or 1850s. The original property owner of the land where the barn sits was Alfred Burr, though Rosenthal said it’s unclear as to whether he commissioned the barn.

While little is known about the barn’s history, Rosenthal said saving the structure underscores the Historical Society’s mission. She said the society’s goal is to further the knowledge of Moorestown history, and saving a barn that has endured for more than 100 years exemplifies the work it does.

“With so many historic buildings all over the country and even South Jersey being destroyed all the time, we just want to be vigilant and keep as many in existence as we can,” Rosenthal said. “That’s why we’re very excited to be able to give Moorestown residents and businesses an opportunity to be involved in this transaction.”

Fellow Historical Society trustee Paul Canton said the structure’s age and location in the center of town were what initially caught the Historical Society’s eye.

“It’s unusual that a barn has been preserved like that,” Canton said of the barn’s Main Street address.

Canton said the structure is a “good example of that time period’s construction.” He said the barn is pegged together and was constructed without the use of nails.

In soliciting proposals, Rosenthal said no use to simply reuse the materials will be given credence. She said they’re looking for a location within Moorestown, and preference will be given to someone with the ability to disassemble and reassemble the structure.

“If possible, it would be great if it was open to the public for them to learn more about and see for themselves,” Rosenthal said.

Canton said if the society is approached by someone looking to erect the barn for public use, they would be amenable to that idea, but the best-case scenario would be someone willing to open the barn for public viewing.

Ventresca, the property owner of the barn, said the barn has sat in disrepair since he took ownership of the property around 10 years ago.

He said he has been trying to get authorization from the township for three years to build an office building where the barn sits. He said when the Historical Society approached him a few months ago about saving the barn, he was more than open to the idea. He said all he asked in return was a charitable donation write off.

“For $1, they can have it,” Ventresca said.

Rosenthal said the idea of saving the barn has been on the Historical Society’s radar for months, and it was thrilled to learn Ventresca was willing to let them step in and try to relocate the structure.

“Otherwise, we would be shirking or responsibility to further the knowledge of Moorestown history,” Rosenthal said.

Proposals can be submitted to the Historical Society of Moorestown via email at moorestownhistory@comcast.net or mailed to 12 High St., Moorestown, 08057. All proposals are due to the Historical Society by Aug. 18.