Volunteer effort brings old wing of Community House new life

The Moorestown Community house unveiled the newly renovated library wing as part of the Cooks Tour.

Carroll Old (left) and Jean Hendrickson (right) volunteered to help decorate the wing of the Community House that was once the Moorestown Library. The pair arranged the space on Tuesday, Dec. 5 in preparation for the Community House for its Cooks Tour debut the following day.

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the Moorestown Community House was abuzz as members of the Moorestown Garden Club and community volunteers worked together to prepare the Community House for its Cooks Tour of Moorestown debut.

Dec. 6 not only marked the Community House’s first appearance on the tour but the unveiling of the newly renovated wing that was once home to the original Moorestown Library.

In September, volunteers began work to refurbish the space. The original Moorestown Library opened in the Community House in 1927 and closed in 1975. Following the library’s closure, the space was occupied by a few tenants, but this past September, the board of the Community House began thinking about how to utilize the space.

“We really saw the potential; we started to get excited about the possibility of that space,” said Executive Director of the Moorestown Community House Caryn Lynch. “We said, ‘Let’s start peeling back some layers and see what we have here. We discovered two fireplaces. We uncovered beautiful original hardwood floors. Everything else was really in great shape. We thought it was so exciting.”

The renovations were completed at the end of November — just in time for the house’s Cooks Tour debut. The annual Cooks Tour features Moorestown homes decorated for the holidays, with proceeds going toward oncology services at Virtua Memorial, a non-profit medical center in Mt. Holly. Lynch said when they agreed to have the Community House on the tour, she knew she would need some resources to help decorate, so she reached out to the Moorestown Garden Club.

Garden Club member Gina Zegel said the club was eager to lend a hand.

“The Garden Club meets here,” Zegel said. “This is our home; this is why they asked us to decorate for Cooks Tour.”

Zegel said the Garden Club held three “workshops” where a small group of members decorated both the exterior and interior of the Community House for the tour. Each year, the Garden Club creates wreaths made from greens collected from members yards and donates them to community organizations throughout town. Each year, the Community House receives six of the hand-made wreaths to be affixed to the front and back doors of the building.

Moorestown Garden Club president Stacy Schaffer arranges garland on the mantle of the Moorestown Community House’s fireplace. The garden club was hard at work on Tuesday, Dec. 5 preparing the Community House for its Cooks Tour debut.

For the Cooks Tour, the club brought its signature touch to the interior, as well adorning mantels with garland, decorating Christmas trees and arranging flowers throughout the historic building. While the Cooks Tour provides a $500 stipend toward decorating, the Community House and Garden Club also chipped in to bring the decor to life, Zegel said.

In addition to the Garden Club, volunteers Jean Hendrickson, whose son serves on the board of the Community House, and her friend Carroll Old, who worked at the Moorestown Library for more than 30 years, lent a hand on Dec. 5 staging the section of the old library that was once the children’s wing. The women decorated a Christmas tree, arranged books and hung wreaths throughout the wing.

“Our oldest son went to story hour here, so it’s really neat to be back and to see it,” Hendrickson said of the space. “The board here is doing an awesome job refurbishing and making it so it’s rentable.”

Lynch said putting the historic building on the Cooks Tour was another way they hoped to connect people with the Community House.

“I feel the more opportunities people have to come in and see our space, the more that emotional connection will form,” Lynch said. “The library space is a great opportunity for the community to connect more with the Community House.”

The library portion of the Community House will be available for rental for weddings and parties. Lynch said the Community House was built in 1926 under the condition that the community take care and ownership of the space, and she sees the newly renovated library wing as another opportunity for the community to do so.

“Everything we do is in an effort to welcome the community and involve them in this great space,” Lynch said.

To learn more about the Community House, visit thecommunityhouse.com.