Haddonfield, N.J., a town of about 11,500 people in Camden County, is one of the oldest communities in the southwestern portion of the state, so old that dinosaurs lived and died there — but more about that later. Take a walk through the heart of town, where more than 200 shops, restaurants, art galleries and independent businesses are thriving, and it’s easy to understand why many visitors want to call Haddonfield home. Streets are lined with historical buildings, and many are exceptionally well preserved. Such buildings as the Indian King Tavern, c. 1750, which was New Jersey’s first official historic site (in 1777 the New Jersey State Assembly met there to officially ratify the Declaration of Independence) and the 1760 Quaker meetinghouse look much as they did when first constructed. Haddon Fire Company No. 1 is the second-oldest volunteer fire company in the United State.
But even before Lenni Lenape Native Americans and Quakers populated Haddonfield, something far larger called it home, namely dinosaurs. In 1858, naturalist William Parker Foulke was visiting Birdwood Farm in Haddonfield. Quite by chance, he discovered the first-ever, largely intact dinosaur skeleton, called Hadrosaurus foulkii, in an old marl pit on the property. It changed scientists’ understanding of these prehistoric creatures, and a centerpiece of downtown Haddonfield is Hadrosaurus, a sculpture representing H. foulkii by John Giannotti, located on Hadrosaurus Lane, of course.
While Haddonfield’s streetscapes have been known to convert many a visitor into a resident, its proximity to Center City Philadelphia as well as the Philadelphia’s sports arenas also add to its appeal. It is located just 10 minutes from both the Walt Whitman and Betsy Ross bridges connecting New Jersey with Philadelphia. The high-speed PATCO transit line take commuters directly into Philadelphia. In addition, residents can transfer to the light-rail River Line for service between Camden, N.J., and Trenton, N.J. For those who want to hit the beach in summer, New Jersey’s shore towns are just over an hour’s drive.
Despite the ready supply of historical houses in Haddonfield, it’s important to note that there are many newer homes in town and also in the surrounding Haddon Township area. In fact, it’s the newer construction that often has drawn the highest prices in the past year or so of home sales. Million-dollar home prices are not unusual, and sales in the $700,000 – $900,000 range represent something of a sweet spot in the market. For those with a more modest budget, bungalows and cottage-style homes are plentiful and can be purchased for half the price of a grand Victorian or newer home in the Borough.