October History Talk: Renewal on Main Street

For October's History Talk: Paul Showers, chairperson of Harrison Township's Historic Preservation Commission, takes a look back at how Main Street became what it is today.

Being asked to write about Mullica Hill history and the Historic District causes me to think about 1967 when my family moved here. I was nearly ten. The town was in need of some attention, many houses needed a coat of paint and in some cases even windows. The aluminum siding man was beginning to make his presence known. It was much smaller then. There were no subdivisions. There were three gas stations, two markets, one real estate office, one attorney; the churches were all present and active. Blueplate was Hilltop Restaurant with a few booths, a few tables and counter service.

Fast forward a couple of years and antique shops began to appear. Fred and Eileen Sharp were first with Hillcreek House. They knew other dealers from doing antique shows and encouraged them to relocate to Mullica Hill. The Sign of St. George which was the first antique shop in a mall in the country left Cherry Hill Mall and landed on Main Street with The Copper Quail. Houses began to be covered in colonial colors, vacant buildings were being fixed up and a variety of shops began to open up and down the street. 1820 House, G Antiques, The Rusty Nail, The Tweed and Tartan Shop, CoCo Boutique, The Eagles Nest were open. Spring and Fall open house weekends drew literally thousands of people from all over. The Historical Society was formed and it restored Old Town Hall, a centerpiece for Lights on Main, as well as the home of award winning exhibits and collections of our local history.

Well, times have changed and once again the town was looking a bit tired as many of the shops closed. There was a shift to professional uses with less retail shops for a while. Walk Main Street now and see the reemergence of retail shops, freshly painted buildings and a variety of restaurants. We have street lights, we have people investing in properties and our Main Street grows more vital all the time. Get out and experience Main Street, bring your guests as it’s not only historic, it’s vibrant and alive…again!