HomeHaddonfield NewsNew life: Revival of historic Boxwood Hall is in the works

New life: Revival of historic Boxwood Hall is in the works

Emily Liu/The Sun
Resident and developer Michael Pasquarello (left), here with borough Commissioner Frank Troy and Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich, presented plans for Boxwood Hall on May 1.

After 10 years of uncertainty, the historic Boxwood Hall is being revived thanks to the recent purchase of the Haddonfield property by R & S Boxwood Hospitality LLC, a group led by resident Michael Pasquarello that will turn the site into a 10-room inn.

The purchase agreement was approved by county commissioners on April 8 and the property was sold for $200,000.

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“I think it’s an exciting project; we really looked to make use of the dilapidated property that we inherited,” said Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich at an April 15 commissioners meeting. ” … While the purchase price may seem underwhelming to some people, it will finally make productive use of a property that no one has offered us any use for, and I think it will be a really great addition to the downtown with the ability to stay over.”

The property sits across from the borough library and close to downtown, another possible draw for the future inn.

“Part of this is, you’re public facing to the library, you’re public facing to the downtown … wanting to make this a destination,” the mayor noted. “If we’re celebrating wellness or the music festival, of course we hope people will see this as a natural stop …

“From the borough’s perspective, this is a public partnership.”

In addition to the 10-room inn, there are also plans to revitalize the grounds by planting native plants and food to be served in a restaurant the group wants to house inside the property’s rear cottage. They also hope to have a pool on site and 10 parking spots.

The 1.4-acre Boxwood Hall was constructed in 1799 by John Estaugh Hopkins, a grand nephew of Haddonfield founder Elizabeth Haddon Estaugh, according to the request for proposal submitted by the borough.

“We’re going to engage with a designer, our locals in town, our buffs on this, and the goal is to see to it that it feels and looks like it did at that time, with the interior comforts and modern amenities that someone would need in order to stay here,” Pasquarello explained, describing the feel of the inn the group wants to create.

The property is made up of three sub-areas that include the main house, the cottage and open space. It was used as a residence until it was sold in 1965 and became office space. It was in 2014 that the borough bought the space for $1.8 million, “to settle litigation related to the affordable-housing obligations that were to be imposed upon a proposed 33-unit apartment building on the site,” according to a borough press release.

Emily Liu/The Sun
The master plan for historic Boxwood Hall’s redevelopment was shared at a press conference on May 1.

A number of ideas on what to do with the property were proposed in the last decade.

A group of residents formed the Boxwood Arts Committee and proposed a 365-seat theater with a multi-purpose space below and a gallery for Markeim Arts Center. But in 2018, the group announced it could not proceed with the plan because the ground conditions didn’t qualify for that use.

Bianco Bezich then proposed a single, five-unit residential building, but the idea was poorly received by residents and deemed too costly, both financially and in the length of time it would take to build.

Pasquarello – a borough resident who owns Cafe Lift in town – emphasized the importance of keeping Boxwood Hall as it is, but noted that there would not be additions or modification in his group’s plan.

“As a resident, I, like all the other residents of Haddonfield, really appreciate the historic nature of our downtown,” he explained. “As a group in our hospitality world, we take pride in taking the history that’s within a property and representing it in its new activation, so we’re really excited to reactivate the property, promote its cultural and historical tourism and allow (its) past to contribute to its future.”

The developers are now in a 90-day due diligence period, so further details on the timing of the project were not available.


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