Haddonfield unveils two markers commemorating the borough’s Black experience

The markers are the first ones recognizing the borough’s Black history since its founding in 1713.

two people with a shovel at the groundbreaking

Adrienne Rhodes, co-founder of the Preserving Black Haddonfield History Project (right) with Historic Mt. Olivet Baptist Church pastor, Reverend Anthony Talton, at the ceremonial groundbreaking of a marker denoting the historical significance of the church. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Linda Armstead’s father attended School #4, a second elementary school for Black students, which was built in 1904.

Years later, he bought the house after serving in the military and “resided in his kindergarten classroom.” Armstead did not know the home where she spent her entire life and where she lives now with her mom was a school with historical significance.

“To me, this was just a regular house,” she said.

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Linda Armstead in front of her home
Linda Armstead currently resides in the building that was once her grandfather’s school in Haddonfield, N.J., and is a stop on the Preserving Black Haddonfield History Project walking tour. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Armstead house was one of the sites featured on a tour that unveiled markers commemorating the Black experience in the Borough of Haddonfield.

Adrienne Rhodes, co-founder of the Preserving Black Haddonfield History Project, said these are the first such markers since the borough’s founding in 1713.

“It feels awesome,” she said. “It has never, ever been done before in Haddonfield.”

Adrienne Rhode addressing the crowd on a microphone
Adrienne Rhodes, co-founder of the Preserving Black Haddonfield History Project, led the ceremonial unveiling and groundbreaking on June 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The two markers will be installed at the Lincoln School for Coloreds on Lincoln Avenue and the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church on Douglass Avenue. The Lincoln School site is now Tarditi Commons, an affordable senior housing community.

Rhodes, who is also a member of WHYY’s Community Advisory Board, said the markers are expected to be installed in the fall.

To celebrate the occasion, officials on Friday broke ground and had a mini-church social where iced tea and sweet potato pound cake was served. There was also a walking tour of 12 sites in an area known as “The Point,” a former vibrant African American community.

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“Black Haddonfield once covered at least five streets and included several dozen families, a couple of churches, schools and businesses,” Rhodes added.

Mt. Olivet Baptist Churc
Historic Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Haddonfield, N.J. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

At Mt. Olivet, the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Anthony C. Talton, greeted those on the tour from the church’s steps.

“[We’re] a church that is loving, that is welcoming and, more importantly, it has air conditioning,” he said, noting the warm summer weather.

 Reverend Anthony Talton speaking into a microphone while standing on the church steps
Historic Mt. Olivet Baptist Church pastor, Reverend Anthony Talton, welcome visitors during the Preserving Black Haddonfield History Project’s walking tour. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Talton is an advisor for the Preserving Black Haddonfield History Project. His early recollections of the borough’s Black community were from his grandfather, who once led the church,

“The Sunday dinners, when they would come to my grandfather’s house, and they just had dinner [and][ would just enjoy themselves,” he said. “This was such a community close-knit that everybody knew each other, and more importantly, it was Christ-centered.”

Talton credited those who came before him for paving the way to honor the borough’s Black history.

“All I can say is thank you for just the giftedness of their perseverance,” he said. If they didn’t persevere, we wouldn’t have what we have right now.”

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