The Revolutionary War-era Hugg-Harrison-Glover House in Bellmawr was torn down Friday, a surprise demolition for a highway construction project that shocked and outraged preservationists.
Concern and conflict over the historical site's fate have been brewing for years, and many were caught off-guard by Friday's destruction. So what was the history-rich house that has generated so much debate in recent years?
The house, located at New St. Mary's Cemetery on West Browning Road, was the home of Capt. William Harrison, commander of the Gloucester Town militia company in the Revolutionary War.
The house was thought to be the only surviving home of a Revolutionary War officer in Camden County, according to a Gloucester City resolution last year that called for the site to be preserved.
The property was originally owned by the Hugg family as early as 1683, according to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities at Rutgers-University Camden. The Harrison family acquired the land in 1751 and added the dwelling's brick portion in 1764.
William Harrison mortgaged the property to raise money to form the militia, according to the center.
The property first played a role in battle in October 1777, when Hessians marching to attack Fort Mercer bypassed a bridge that had been overtaken by the militia by crossing Little Timber Creek on Harrison's mill dam and then proceeding to the fort.
Then, the November 1777 Battle of Gloucester was partially fought on the land. Harrison and his company fought in that battle under the Marquis de Lafayette. The fight was an early battlefield command for Lafayette and advanced his military career.
The house was also the site of non-battle wartime activities. "Capt. Harrison cleaned the muskets at this house. He received the pay from the Continental Congress and distributed it to the soldiers at this house," Chris Perks, president of the Camden County Historical Society, said last year.
Harrison's debts eventually led to the property being sold at sheriff sale, according to the Rutgers center. It was passed to another family, and then to the Glover family in 1835. The house was owned by the Diocese of Camden, which operates the cemetery, for nearly a century, and has been the property of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, which acquired it through eminent domain, since 2010, according to the diocese.
Now, the house is a pile of rubble, with shattered bricks where the home once stood.