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Manuscripts: Detwiller, Charles H. Architectural papers, 1927 and 1952-1983.

Manuscript Collection 1104
Special Collections and University Archives
Rutgers University Libraries

QUANTITY: ca. 7.6 cubic ft. (5 cartons, 2 newspaper boxes, 9 map folders)
ACCESS: No restrictions.
PROCESSED BY: Mitchell Greenberg

Biographical Sketch

Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., restoration architect, chair of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects' committee on historic preservation and an officer of the New Jersey Chapter of Architectural Historians, was graduated from Princeton University in 1939. He received further education at the Brooklyn School of Design and Construction, from which he was graduated in 1950. The son of Charles Detwiller, Sr., an architect in Plainfield, New Jersey, Charles Jr. had his office in Plainfield as well. His father, having once walked him around the former family homestead near Allentown, Pennsylvania, to "point out a pretty cornice," succeeded in sparking a passion in him at age 11 for architecture specifically dealing with older buildings.

His first recorded historical restoration project was the Drake House (circa 1747), Plainfield, the interiors of which Detwiller worked on in 1950. The next major project, in 1961, was the Stage House Inn (circa 1837), Scotch Plains, which involved not only restoration but house moving. Other important projects were the Mystic Maritime Museum (circa 1810), Mystic, Connecticut, which entailed new construction in period style, the Badgley House (circa 1710-40), Mountainside, which he measured and prepared a proposal to reconstruct, and the Old Red Mill Museum and Historic Village in Clinton, new construction in period style.

Detwiller also did consulting work with ten different historical societies throughout New Jersey and, in conjunction with a variety of engineering firms, advised on the cultural impact of major highway extensions in northern and central New Jersey (I-287, I-78 and Route 55).

Of Detwiller's children, two (Frederic and Charles III) also became architects.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of restoration architect Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., MC 1104, span the years 1952 to 1983, with the bulk of them falling between 1976 and 1983. They are filed in two series (sequences) as received: 1) documentation relating to individual historic buildings and historic districts for which Detwiller provided professional services (e.g., Buccleuch Mansion, Crescent Avenue Historic District), about which he was contacted (e.g., Ivy Hall) or in which he had an interest (e.g., Hiram Market); and 2) documentation of major highway extension plans and surveys and their environmental impact on historic buildings (i.e., I-287, which comprises the bulk of this series, and I-78 and Route 55), plus major sewer facility expansions and their impact (e.g., Franklin Borough). Also filed in the second series, as found, are papers concerning one additional historic district for which Detwiller provided consulting services (Old Bridge) and notes from a 1980 historic restoration conference.

The majority of the papers in the first series detail Detwiller's activities inspecting and suggesting appropriate improvements to New Jersey buildings dating from as early as the 18th century. Parallel to these activities Detwiller appraised the likelihood of various buildings qualifying for federal or state "historic landmark" status and attendant benefits (financial aid in restoration, tax reduction). His role in restoration was thus not only to tastefully preserve but also to follow guidelines set forth by the National Park Service (its National Register for Historic Places) and the New Jersey Historic Sites Commission. The remainder of the papers in the first series reflect Detwiller's involvement in preservation campaigns where developers had bought up certain properties (Blenheim Hotel, Hiram Market), researching the history of previous ownerships and restorations on certain buildings (Denville survey) and various other activities relating to buildings or districts.

The second series consists mainly of I-287 extension plans, 1977-1983. This project was seen in its various alternate proposals to affect many houses in early settled parts of northern New Jersey extending from Montville to the New York state border. Detwiller was employed by the architectural and engineering firm of Louis Berger & Associates, Inc., East Orange, to assess the historical value of buildings in and near the path of this highway. He played the same role in the 1978 Route 55 project (under the auspices of the Environmental Assessment Council, New Brunswick) and the 1975 I-78 project (for URS Madigan-Praeger, Inc., of New York City).

The Detwiller papers provide an excellent overview of efforts to preserve New Jersey's heritage through restoration methods and materials that are in keeping with original architecture. The collection also provides a glimpse into the difficulties of nonpartisan appraisal of buildings that lie in the path of proposed construction projects.

The papers consist of correspondence, notes, photographs, Detwiller's reports on individual structures (evaluating age, style, significance, condition, etc.), bid specifications, architectural drawings, construction contracts, bills for services rendered, printed matter (maps, pamphlets, catalogs, periodical issues, government documents, newspaper clippings, photocopies from county histories, blueprints, aerial photographs, etc.), photocopies of deed book entries, contract archaeology reports and a variety of brochures. Also included are a fragment of hand-painted wallpaper, paint chips and more than one rusty nail.

Arrangement Note

The Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., architectural papers are arranged in two series (filing units), one consisting of individual building and district surveys and the other of highway extension proposals and district surveys. The documents were received by Special Collections and University Archives in these two groupings. Most of the folders in the first series were labeled with the names of either areas or buildings, although not all of the building names correspond to current usage. Some folders (ten or so) retained the owner's names since the buildings themselves had no names as such. A very few folders lacked headings and were supplied them; these headings appear in bracketed form on the folders. The second series, in contrast, contained many unlabeled, vaguely labeled or mislabeled folders. While the unlabeled and mislabeled folders were provided bracketed "Miscellaneous" headings (among the I-287 subseries), the vague headings were transferred as they appeared to the new folders--with the result that many related materials in this series are found scattered between folders without any clear rational.

Most oversize blueprints from the first series were segregated, their corresponding folder headings copied on larger folders, and put in newspaper boxes. An asterisk next to a folder number on the container list indicates that an oversize blueprint has been shifted in this manner.

Maps, blueprints, topographic surveys and aerial photographs from the second series, and some blueprints from the first series, were transferred to a map case drawer due to their very large size. These documents are listed at the end of the container list.

Container List


 1       1         List of Surveys of Historic Sites by C.H. Detwiller or A.I.A.
         2*        Acorn Hall (Morristown), 1978-1979
         3         Badgley House (Mountainside), 1972-1980
         4         Basking Ridge Historical Society (Basking Ridge, Bernards
                     Township), 1976
         5         Berkeley Heights Historical Society (Berkeley Heights
                     Township), 1977-1980
         6         Blenheim Hotel (Atlantic City), 1978
         7         Buccleuch Mansion (New Brunswick), 1979
         8*        Burrows Mansion (Matawan), 1977-1981
         9*        Carriage House--Clinton Curtis (Morristown), 1979
         10*       Clinton Historical--Grandin Library (Clinton), 1977-1978
         11        Clinton Museum--Bids and Other Data, 1978-1979
         12*       Clinton Museum--Old File--"Red Mill 5," 1964-1965
       13-18*      Clinton Museum, 1978-1980
       19-22*      Crescent Avenue Historic District (Plainfield), 1980-1981
         23        DiMiceli, J. (Scotch Plains Township), 1979
         24        Denville Survey (Denville), 1979-1980
         25        Diver, C. (Avon), 1980
         26        Diver's House (Avon), 1980
         27        Durrand-Hedden House (Maplewood), 1979
         28*       Eld, Wendell (Lamington, Bedminster Township), 1973
         29        Elizabeth, City of--Cultural Resource Study, 1980
         30        Elliott, W.P.--Old Stansberry House (Scotch Plains Township),
         31        English Neighborhood Historical Society (Maywood), 1979
         32        "Eoff" Farmstead--R. Brooks & Associates (Pluckemin,
                     Bedminster Township), 1977-1979
         33*       Facade Program, 304-308 Front St. (Plainfield), 1979
         34*       Facade Program, 435 Park Avenue (Plainfield), 1979
       35-38*      Friends Meeting House (Plainfield), 1954-1980

               *For related oversize material, see boxes 6 and 7


         1         General Historic Site Survey Evaluation, 1980
         2         Gladis, Joseph W. (Westfield), 1978
         3         Glen Ridge Historical Society, 1977
         4         Goett--Lake Avenue (Clark), 1979
         5*        Gutherz Research Property (Oldwick, Tewksbury Township), 1979
         6         Gural--Old Coach Road (Summit), 1979
         7         Hartman, Lois (Georgetown, Mansfield Township), 1980
        8-10*      Highland Falls (Highland Falls, New York), 1979-1980
         11        Historic American Buildings Survey--Library of Congress,
         12        Hoser House Restoration (Harmony Township), 1981
         13        Hillside Historical Society, Inc., 1978-1979
         14        Ivy Hall [Cornelius Low House] (Piscataway Township), 1979
         15        Jersey City--City Hall, 1979
         16        Johnson & Johnson--Riverview (New Brunswick), 1980
         17        Kearny Cottage Historical Association (Perth Amboy), 1978-1979
         18        Kellers--Ryders Lane (Milltown, etc.) & Morris Ave. (Spring-
                     field Township)--Surveys, 1979-1983
         19        Kita, Henry (Plainfield), 1978
         20        Lagos, Dr. John M. (Chatham Township), 1977
         21        Lebanon Township--School Houses, 1979
         22*       Merchants & Drovers Inn--Rahway Historical Society, 1969-1980
         23        Metuchen Meeting, 1978-1979
         24*       Mills, Timothy House (Morristown), 1977-1978
         25        Middletown--Bowne House (Leonardo, Middletown Township), 1980
         26        Millington House--George St. (New Brunswick), 1978
         27        Monday Afternoon Club (Plainfield), 1980
         28        Montclair Survey--J. Kellers, 1980
         29*       Morristown, 1980
       30-31       National Trust Talk, 1980
         32        Nevius Homestead (Bedminster), 1975
       33-34       New Brunswick Historic District--Hiram Market Area, 1980
         35        "New Brunswick Tomorrow", 1980
         36        New Providence Historical Society, 1974
         37*       North Avenue (Plainfield), 1980
         38        North Plainfield Historical Society, 1974
  [map case only]  Oakey House
         39        Octagon House (Port Monmouth, Middletown Township), 1979
       40-41       Old Bridge Township, 1980-1981
         42        Olde Towne, Vandeveer-Knox House--Hoes Lane, 1974-1978
       43-48*      Olde Towne [East Jersey Olde Towne], 1973-1981

               *For related oversize material, see boxes 6 and 7


        1-3*       Olde Towne [East Jersey Olde Town], 1973-1981 [continued]
         4         Our Lady of Fatima--Phyphe House (Piscataway Township), 1977
         5*        Paterson College (Wayne), 1978
        6-9*       Perth Amboy, 1978-1979
         10        Plainfield Historic Preservation, 1980
         11        Plainfield--S & T Restaurant, 1980
       12-13*      Plainfield Downtown Development, 1978-1979
         14        Plainfield Historic Review Committee, 1980
       15-16*      Poricy Park Citizens Committee (Middletown), 1975-1979
         17        Preservation Plainfield, 1979
         18        Rahway Library, 1978
         19        Robinson House (Clark), 1979
         20        Runyon Funeral Home (Plainfield), 1978
         21        Saddle River Survey, 1980
         22        Scotch Hills (Scotch Plains Township), 1979
         23        Scotch Plains, 1975
       24-27*      Shoal Harbor--Spy House (Port Monmouth, Middletown Township),
         28        Slocum House (Fanwood), 1979-1980
         29        South Bound Brook Municipal Building, 1978
         30*       Spann, Max (Washington Township), 1978
         31        Straus House (Atlantic Highlands), 1980-1981
         32        Terrell, Mrs. Virginia (Plainfield), 1973
         33        Thomson, George S. (Somerville), 1978
       34-35       Unitarian Fellowship--Thorne Mansion (Morris Township), 1980
       36-37*      Van Bunschooten House (Wantage Township), 1974-1980

               *For related oversize material, see boxes 6 and 7


         1*        Van Bunschooten House (Wantage Township), 1974-1980 [continued]
        2-4*       Van Duyne House (Wayne), 1976-1979
         5         Walker, Allen--Janis House (Mahwah Township), 1978
         6         Williamson, John House (Edison Township), 1978-1980
         7         Zimmerman, Todd (Cherryville, Franklin Township, Hunterdon
                     County), 1980
                 [see also box 5 and map folders]
        8-9        Route 55 Environmental Impact Study (Gloucester County), 1978
       10-15       Route 78 Environmental Impact Study, 1975-1976
         16        Sussex Turnpike (Morris County), 1981
       17-20       Old Bridge Historic District, 1977-1978
       21-22       Franklin Borough (Sussex County)--Sewage Facility Expansion
                     --Environmental Impact Study, 1979
         23        Highland Falls/Fort Montgomery Proposed Sewage Facilities, 1980
       24-25       Ogdensburg Sewage Facility Expansion--Environmental Impact
                     Study, 1979
         26        Franklin & Ogdensburg Environment Impact Studies--Miscellaneous
         27        Upper Walkill Basin--Realigned Sewage Facilities--Cultural
                     Resource Survey, 1979
         28        Fourth Annual Conference on Preservation and Restoration of
                     Old Houses,Princeton, 1980

               *For related oversize material, see boxes 6 and 7


                 [see also box 4 and map folders]
         1         I-287 Alternate 1 Environment Studies, Montville & Pequannock,
         2         I-287 Correspondence--Final Report--Field Survey Notes, 1977
         3         I-287 Correspondence (to Weck) Historic Architectural Analysis
                     (Suffern) [and Finances], 1980
         4         I-287 Correspondence and Weck Instructions, 1977
         5         I-287 Cultural Resource Survey--Architectural Analysis,
         6         I-287 Field Notes and Rough Drafts
         7         I-287 Final Report
         8         I-287 Final Retyped Reports
         9         I-287 Financial Information, 1977-1981
         10        I-287 Ford Mansion (Morristown), 1975
         11        I-287 Historic Archaeology Survey (Montville-NY State Thruway)
                     [and Notes], 1977-1979
       12-14       I-287 Miscellaneous
         15        I-287 Montville-Riverdale--Architectural Survey, 1980
         16        I-287 Montville-Riverdale--Environmental Impact Study
         17        I-287 Montville-Suffern Historic Archaeology Survey, 1977-1978
       18-19       I-287 Montville-Suffern Historic Architecture Analysis
         20        I-287 Montville-Suffern Historic Architecture Supplement, 1980
         21        I-287 New York State Section, 1971-1980
         22        I-287 Originals and Changes to Report, 1981-1983
         23        I-287 Suffern Area--Research Material
         24        I-287 Survey Reports and Field Notes
       25-26       I-287 Wayne Township, 1978-1982
         27        I-287 Working Maps & Notes


                 [see also boxes 1-4 and 7]
         1         Acorn Hall (Morristown), 1979
         2         Burrowns Mansion (Matawan), 1975
         3         Carriage House--Clinton Curtis (Morristown), 1979
         4         Clinton Historical--Grandin Library (Clinton), 1978
         5         Clinton Museum--Bids and Other Data, 1978
         6         Clinton Museum--Old File, 1964-1965
         7         Clinton Museum, 1965-1978
         8         Clinton Museum, 1978
         9         Crescent Avenue Historic District (Plainfield), 1927
         10        Eld, Wendell (Lamington, Bedminster Township), 1952
         11        Facade Program, 304-308 Front St. (Plainfield), 1952 and 1979
         12        Facade Program, 435 Park Avenue (Plainfield), 1979
         13        Friends Meeting House (Plainfield), 1954-1962
         14        Gutherz Research Property (Oldwick, Tewksbury Township), 1979
         15        Highland Falls (Highland Falls, New York), 1979-1980
         16        Merchants & Drovers Inn--Rahway Historical Society, 1953-1972
         17        Mills, Timothy House (Morristown), 1977-1978
         18        Morristown, 1980
         19        North Avenue (Plainfield), 1974
       20-24       Olde Towne [East Jersey Olde Towne], 1973-1981
         25        Our Lady of Fatima--Phyphe House (Piscataway Township), 1977


                 [see also boxes 1-4 and 6]
         1         Paterson College (Wayne), 1978
         2         Perth Amboy, 1978-1979
         3         Plainfield Downtown Development, 1978-1979
         4         Poricy Park Citizens Committee (Middletown), 1975-1979
         5         Shoal Harbor--Spy House (Port Monmouth, Middletown Township),
         6         Spann, Max (Washington Township), 1980
         7         Van Bunschooten House (Wantage Township), 1973-1975
         8         Van Duyne House (Wayne), 1976-1979


Case             [see also boxes 4-5]
        1-7        Route 287 (Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike)
         8         Route 55
         9         Site Surveys and Building Restorations
                     Oakey House, 1976
                     Clinton Museum--Red Mill, 1978
                     Olde Towne [East Jersey Olde Towne] (East Brunswick map)
                     Badgley House--"Westfield in Revolutionary Times" (map)
                     Old Bridge Township, undated