By Amy Filippone, Dept. of Parks & Recreation
The Moorestown Parks and Recreation Department recently held a winter ‘Treasure Hunt’. Seven clues took participants on a journey through town starting at Strawbridge Lake Park. Each site not only provided the next clue but information on the place and in many cases, its historic significance. The theme generally focused on influential inventors and business magnates who resided in Moorestown.
The treasure hunt kicked off at the bear sculptures at Strawbridge Lake Park. Esther Strawbridge Brophy, widow of Edward R. Strawbridge of the Strawbridge and Clothier department store family, donated 25 acres to the township during the Great Depression to provide jobs. It was previously Hooton Creek (the Hooton family were Quakers and pioneer settlers of Burlington County in the late 1600’s) and was widened to create the lake and public park. At the same time, the Stokes family built a public swimming pool at the park, also to provide jobs.
The Breidenhart Castle, now the Cambridge Senior Living Center, was home to both Samuel Leeds Allen, who invented the Flexible Flyer sled and later to Eldridge Reeves Johnson who founded the Victor Talking Machine (which became RCA).
Samuel Leeds Allen was a farmer, inventor and manufacturer. S. L. Allen held hundreds of patents, mostly to do with the agricultural industry and wanted to have something for his workers to do in the winter — hence the creation of the Flexible Flyer (he was a sledding enthusiast). There is Flexible Flyer museum housed at the Moorestown Library, which details the history of this famous sled.
Eldridge Reeves Johnson’s Victor Talking Machine Company, began in 1901 in Camden and grew to one of the largest producers of phonographs and phonograph records in the world. He retired in 1926 and lived in Moorestown until his death in 1945. Johnson donated funds to build the Moorestown Community House and the Trinity Episcopal Church, both on Main Street.
The Moorestown Friends Meeting House was another stop on the Treasure Hunt. The current building is its third iteration. The first Meeting House was built in 1700 and was made of logs. S.L. Allen was married to Sarah Hooton Roberts at the Moorestown Friends Meeting House in 1866.
Stokes Hill and the Nipper dogs on Main Street were also part of the treasure hunt, which ended at the Church Street Recreation Center. Sophia Geiger of the Parks and Rec. Department, wrote the clues and background information for each site. There was a surprise drawing for a brand new Flexible Flyer that was won by the Drexler Family (new to Moorestown).
This was a free, all day event — minimizing crowds. To find out more about free events and other programs for adults and children, go to www.moorestownrec.com.