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Croft Farm: Arts Center & Kay-Evans House

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100 Borton's Mill Rd
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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The 80-acre Croft Farm is located in the center of Cherry Hill Township, just 15 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and 45 minutes from Atlantic City, NJ.

The site is adjacent to Camden County's Challenge Grove Park, near the intersection of Brace & Borton's Mill Roads.
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Kay-Evans farmhouse at Croft Farm. Township file photo: April, 2009

Under the leadership of former Mayor Susan Bass Levin, Township Council and the Cherry Hill Cultural Arts Advisory Board (today's Arts Board), Croft Farm was reborn in 1995 as a regional center for the fine and performing arts.

The Township offers a broad spectrum of classes from painting to modern dance all year long. In addition, Croft Farm hosts community festivals, art exhibits and performances in the 'Ensemble Series.' In the summer, Croft is home to a unique arts camp for children in Grades 1 to 6. For more information on Croft Farm activities, call the Department of Parks & Recreation at 856.488.7868 or visit the Arts Board blog site.

History of Croft Farm
Once a working mill and farm and a stop on the Underground Railroad, today Croft Farm is a vibrant Arts Center and public open space site. The Croft site has played an important role in the growth of Southern New Jersey for more than 300 years.

From 1697-1897, four different mills earned the Kay and Evans families their livelihood. People and supplies traveled along Cooper Creek to Croft Farm, then known by such names as the Free Lodge Mill, Springwell, and Edgewater.

The centerpiece of Croft Farm is the 16-room farmhouse. Built in several stages, the original section of the house was erected in 1753 by Issac Kay and exists today as the dining room, 'tight winder' staircase and the primary facade facing Evans' Pond.

Through the years, the farmhouse has gone through many changes, including the addition of rooms on the northern side of the house in 1816. This changed the orientation of the home away from the pond and toward the road, a symbolic and functional acknowledgement of the development of roads and new transportation lines in Southern New Jersey.

It was reported by a descendent of Thomas Evans that Croft Farm "was one of the stations to which runaway slaves were brought. The slaves came from Woodbury and were received by Thomas Evans, then quickly hidden in the attic of the house so that no one could find them. Then, in the middle of the night, they would be given something to eat and hurried off in a covered wagon to Mount Holly, where they were received and hidden again." No one knows for sure how many people on the underground railroad were housed and fed at Croft Farm.

Records show that Josiah Evans arranged to purchase the freedom of two fugitive slaves, Joshua Sadler and Jefferson Fisher, rather than have them picked up by a bounty hunter. They remained at the mill, working to repay Evans for his kindness. Sadler went on to become the leader of a small settlement of freed slaves who established "Sadlertown" in what is now Haddon Township.

In the 1920s, with the once flourishing saw and grist mills no longer functioning, the Evans family sold the land to John W. Croft, Jr. who, along with assistant Thomas McCargo, farmed the land until 1981. In 1985, the Crofts sold the 80-acre property to Cherry Hill Township, and the Croft and McCargo families reside in Cherry Hill to this day.

In 1995, a new era began as the Cherry Hill Arts Center was dedicated on the grounds of Croft Farm. Today, the vibrant spaces are utilized year-round by children, seniors and all our community's citizens for classes, seminars, and concerts produced by the Recreation Department in partnership with the volunteer Arts Board and generous corporate sponsors.

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