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Flood Destroys Memorabilia at Gloucester City Historical Society

Related: Gloucester City History


William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet

GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ ( 21, 2019)--The heavy rain that has hit the South Jersey region recently has caused flooding of major highways and side streets. That flooding has also destroyed family memorabilia and old photos stored in basements of homes and businesses.

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 11.43.56The heavy rains washed out Jersey Avenue, Gloucester City (CNBNews photo)

The Gloucester City Historical Society, located on North King Street across from the Fire Department told the Courier-Post today that the water had destroyed volumes of old Gloucester City News that were tucked away in the basement of their building.

In the early 1980's, the Gloucester City News worked with Board members of the Gloucester City Library to obtain a grant to have volumes and volumes of the old papers that were stored at the Gloucester City News to be microfilmed starting with the first edition of the paper in 1926 on up to the 1980 or thereabout.  Once they were transferred to microfilm the arrangement between the two parties called for the paper to pay for microfilming the paper from thereafter. There were two reels made; one for the City Library and one for Gloucester County Historical Society in Woodbury. There was also a hard copy made that was stored at the newspaper's office on Broadway.

Flood waters lapped front stoops on King Street along the Delaware River Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. The water was up to the Gloucester City Historical Society Museum's front step, just under the doorway, treasurer William Lee told the Courier-Post

When he opened the building at 10 a.m. Thursday, it was clear very quickly the cellar sump pump couldn't keep up with the three feet of water in the museum's basement. 

Lee looked down the basement steps to objects — tables and documents — floating in murky water. 

"We have had water on the floor," Lee admitted. 

But nothing like the scene Thursday morning. 

Wet pages of the Gloucester City News became so heavy, the binders of newsprint collapsed the shelving. 

Antique bottles and commemorative Gloucester City plates and cups were rescued, historical society president Carol Lynn Carey-Lee said. 

The historical society, established in 1915 and re-established in 1945, houses the oldest and most coveted bits of one of the region's oldest cities. It was settled in 1627. The oldest artifact it cares for is the original notes from the founders' meeting in 1686 describing how the land will be broken into lots and how it will be sold. A copy is on the first floor of the museum. The original is in a water- and fire-proof safe at the Lees' home. 

"These are all Gloucester City News on the shelves and they're all wet. Once they get wet from the bottom it sucks it up."

Trying to hold on to the hundreds of wet papers could be a breeding ground for mold, Carey-Lee fears.