Hollybush, built in 1849, has had many lives: it’s been the Whitney Mansion, home to the well-known South Jersey glassmaking family; dorms for the earliest students of Glassboro Normal School, now Rowan University; and residence for the University’s presidents for many years.
Time and use have taken a toll on the Italianate villa, one of the most revered buildings on the Rowan University campus and in Glassboro, and proper rehabilitation is critical to preserve Hollybush’s heritage and to keep the mansion open for Rowan's and the community’s use.
More than 140 years after Thomas Whitney built his home, Rowan began to refurnish Hollybush in its original Victorian style with Eastlake and Renaissance Revival styles of the period. Friends of Hollybush and Rowan University, as well as historic preservation groups and the Rowan University Foundation, donated select pieces and seed money to purchase furnishings.
Much work has been done in the last few years to restore the 19th-century mansion, which is on the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places. After three firms specializing in historic preservation concluded Hollybush was no longer suitable as a home, Rowan began undertaking the renovation needed to make it into meeting space.
Since 2003, Rowan has been working on $3 million in foundation, structural, exterior and interior work at Hollybush, including such tasks as replacing the roof with slate similar to that used for the original structure; stabilizing the foundation; installing new heating, ventilation, plumbing and electrical systems; repointing stone; reinforcing the tower; refurbishing stained glass windows; and restoring and conserving significant decorative features.
Specialists also conducted a paint analysis of the interior and uncovered decorative ceiling painting in the parlor and library, a unique find in historic houses in South Jersey.
When work is completed, Hollybush will be used as a reception and meeting venue for official Rowan University and community functions and will feature displays of artifacts relating to the 1967 Summit and the history of the region and the University.
To date, Rowan University and the New Jersey Historic Trust have funded the work, which has received support from officials, community members and numerous organizations in the area.
Supporting the Hollybush Restoration Project
Rowan University welcomes donations (which are tax-deductible) to the restoration effort. You may support the Hollybush project through the Rowan University Foundation, a non-profit organization. If you would like to make a donation, send a check made out to the Rowan University Foundation (with “Hollybush Project” indicated on the memo line) to the Rowan University Foundation, Bole Hall, 2nd Floor, 201 Mullica Hill Rd., Glassboro, N.J. 08028. If you have questions about Hollybush, please call the President's Office at (856) 256-4100.
Friends of Hollybush