Letter to the Editor: Herb Hess

Longtime borough resident with strong voice urges action on beloved landmark.

To the Editor: 

First, here is the letter I look forward to writing: 

“Many thinks to the Borough Commissioners of Haddonfield for their prompt action to protect and preserve the Tiffany stained-glass windows at Lullworth Hall.  Recent vandalism threatened this irreplaceable artwork. The Borough’s efforts to fully cover these windows with protective sheathing along with other measures will ensure that many will enjoy this treasure for years to come.”

If it were only so.  

After spending millions to own the Bancroft property, secured in part by the Open Space and Historic Preservation Trust Fund into which Haddonfield residents have paid close to $1.3 million, the Borough is willing to take every step possible to protect Lullworth Hall except removing the windows or shielding the stain glass windows. While the steps taken are laudable, they won’t stop the catastrophe that nearly occurred when large stones and liquor bottles were heaved through the first floor windows. The window glass was shattered but the stained glass, only inches away, was spared.

Here is the letter I don’t want to have to write:  

“Mayor Rochford, you explained to me that not covering the Tiffany stained glass at Lullworth Hall was a judgement call. Now that these artful windows have been destroyed, it is clear that this was a bad decision. Words cannot restore what was taken through senseless vandalism. Your judgement, contradicting the advice of preservationists and professionals, and wasting the investment of the NJ Historic Trust and the mandate of the State Historic Preservation Office, is beyond my comprehension. The remedy would have cost hundreds of dollars and the loss is beyond any amount that could restore what we had. I am saddened and disheartened by your decision and that of your fellow Commissioners to not fully protect what you have a duty to protect.”

If you believe as I do that Lullworth Hall is worth saving, I invite each of you to write, call, or email the Mayor and Commissioners of the Borough of Haddonfield. Find their contact info at haddonfieldnj.org. Please help me avoid having to write the second letter.

Herb Hess

Haddonfield, N.J.