In 1987 I interviewed local New Jersey historian Budd Wilson. He explained that the Hermann City Hotel was built in three sections "west", "center" and "east"). At the time, he explained the history of its construction as follows: In 1750 Nicholas Sooy built a house on the Mullica River in the area of Green Bank, Burlington Co., NJ. An addition (the center section) was built on it circa 1840s. In 1869, a glasshouse was built just to the east of the property. The Koster family purchased the Sooy house and built another addition (the eastern section) on it. The western end of the hotel is the oldest section. He based this order of construction on the papers of architect G. Edwin Brumbaugh.
There is controversy about this. The family said the center section was the oldest. In 1987, I met a Mark Andrews of Mt. Holly, NJ (later Browns Mills) who did amateur excavation of the fill around the foundations. Andrews also studied the doors and door locks in each section. He was the first to conclude that the center section was the oldest. In 1988, Andrews and I presented this information to Wilson. Budd recently advised me that the trim features (including the chair rail mentioned in my Hermann City Hotel 6 video) indicates that the first floor of the center section appears to be the oldest section.
Regardless of the order of construction, by 1869 when the Kosters arrived, the three-section 18-room property became known as the Hermann City Hotel and provided some lodging and bar entertainment for the glasshouse workers (there was also a boarding house for the workers). The glasshouse and Hermann City were the hopes of Brooklyn and Egg Harbor investors for a community clustered around the glasshouse and hotel.
The glasshouse failed during the Panic of 1873. Hermann City also folded and many of the buildings soon disappeared. Joseph Wharton, ex-Mayor of Philadelphia and entrepreneur, purchased most of the land that was Hermann City. After 1873, the house remained the homestead of the Koster family until January 1984 when the last resident died.
I brought much attention to the property in 1987 as a Drexel student producing a research video documentary on the town. I conducted interviews and videotaped the area extensively from January to June 1987. On March 2, 1987, local resident, archeologist and historian Charles "Budd" Wilson toured the house with me on video. On May 28, 1987, I visited the area and informed the family and local residents that I had completed my original video project and returned to Philadelphia. Two weeks later, on June 15, 1987, the hotel was destroyed by arson.
From 1987 through 1989, I presented my video documentary to the Batsto Citizens Committee and other historical societies. Family and friends (including me) gathered for a camping outing at Herman June 11 - 12, 1989. Shortly afterwards, the family sold the remaining land to the State. I have continued to gather research and video.
Today, the hotel is gone and the ruins of the glasshouse is a popular Geocache spot in the Pine Barrens. This video series is composed of the original visual and sound material recorded by me. Much of it is unedited. Music licensed. Copyright TechnerVideo all rights reserved.