Preserving Hollybush

HOLLYBUSH
Detail photo of the renovated ceiling in Hollybush

Preserving Hollybush

Built in 1849, Hollybush has had many lives: it has been the Whitney Mansion, home to the well-known South Jersey glassmaking family; a dorm for the earliest students of Glassboro Normal School, now Rowan University; and the residence for the University’s presidents for many years.

The Italianate villa is one of the most revered buildings on the Rowan University campus and in Glassboro.

More than 150 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.

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.

Beginning in 2003, Rowan undertook $3 million in foundation, structural, exterior and interior work at Hollybush, including such tasks as replacing the roof; stabilizing the foundation; installing new heating, ventilation, plumbing and electrical systems; repointing stone; reinforcing the tower; 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.

Today, Hollybush is used as a reception and meeting venue for official Rowan University and community functions. It features 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 restoration work, which has received support from officials, community members and numerous organizations in the area.

Rowan University welcomes tax deductible contributions to the continued restoration effort. Donations (with “Hollybush Project” indicated on the memo line) can be made through the Rowan University Foundation, Shpeen Hall, 201 Mullica Hill Road, Glassboro, NJ 08028 or online at http://rowan.edu/home/foundation.