Mount Laurel, New Jersey Mayor Richard van Noord has announced that the 1838 ‘Sunnyside Farms’ homestead will be demolished. Van Noord cited the cost of stabilization and the danger the house presents if left standing as the reasons for this decision. The twenty-three acre grounds will be preserved as open space.
Sunnyside Farms was built for Quaker Joseph Hooton and is one of three known Hooton family farmsteads in the state. The others are Paulsdale, currently the home of the Alice Paul Institute, and Hooton Hall, which stood in Moorestown until its demolition in 2001.
The Garden State Historic Trust awarded Mount Laurel a nearly $12,000 grant for a feasibility study on the Sunnyside house in 2010. Estimates to stabilize the house and it up to code run “well over a million dollars” according to Van Noord. Left standing, the house poses a threat to local residents. After long-term vacancy and neglect, it has badly deteriorated. Several break-ins have occurred, exposing the vandals not only to the dangers of an unstable structure but also to asbestos. Demolition of the home, which could begin as early as July, will relieve the township of the potential liability if someone is injured.
Mount Laurel residents have taken to the township’s Facebook page to express their frustration and sadness over the impending loss of a beloved landmark.