Town by Town: Merchantville, a place with staying power

Merchantville is known as South Jersey's Victorian Secret. It is big on tradition but short on houses for sale. Why? People move in but they rarely ever leave. Whether it's the housing stock or the K-8 school district, people stick to Merchantville like glue, the Darlands say. On the street where the Darlands bought their 1907 Sears & Roebuck craftsman bungalow three years ago, there are 11 other houses.

Six or seven have been occupied by the same families for 25 years. "The previous owners of our house also were longtime residents," Joel adds. "Merchantville still has a small-town character, and its residents do stay a long time."


There is an emphasis here on tradition, a hallmark of small-town life. In 2009, Peter Burgess and Janet Stevens bought the venerable Philadelphia Fruit Co. at South Centre and West Park Streets from owner Bob Hanna, who retired after 27 years. The couple renovated the place and reopened it in 2010 as McFarlan's Market. The name? It's what the original market at that site was called in 1880s. Mothers walk their kids to school, or the kids walk there by themselves. Members of Merchantville's small police force rotate shifts, so each gets to know all the people in town and the residents know all the officers.



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Last modified on 03/21/2019

Published in History
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