CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Among the buzz and bustle of a people-packed region lies a quiet oasis of trees, trails, and gardens along with a trove of history.
The Barclay Farmstead Museum, located in the Barclay Farms Housing Development along the North Branch of the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, is a living history museum where visitors can observe and even participate in the agrarian lifestyle of the early 19th century.
Volunteers in full period costume demonstrate and explain what life was like on the farm back in the 1800s.
According to Board Chair for the Friends of Barclay Farmstead, Carolyn Franz, the Farmstead was built by the Thorn family in 1816, acquired by the Joseph W. Cooper Family in 1826, and sold to Cherry Hill Township by the Barclay Family in 1975.
“The museum hosts thousands of guests each year,” Franz said. “They enjoy access to a variety of site-specific activities.”
Those activities include an award winning 5th grade school program, plant-a-patch community gardens, Music Under the Stars, and 32 acres of green space for family fun. “The Farmstead is truly the crown jewel of the Barclay area and all of Cherry Hill,” Franz added.
While the museum is under the jurisdiction of Cherry Hill Township, it is the Friends of Barclay Farmstead volunteer organization that runs most of the on-site programming.
The Friends of Barclay Farmstead, Inc. is a non-profit, volunteer organization founded in 1975. “The purposes for which the Friends has been formed are to promote directly the historical, scientific, educational and interpretive activities of the Barclay Farmstead and to promote restoration of the house, outbuildings, and grounds,” Franz said.
The Friends of Barclay Farmstead is funded by yearly dues and through events and programs held throughout the year.
One such program is the upcoming Prohibition Night which will commemorate the 1936 discovery of an illegal still at the Farmstead. “While the Barclay family vehemently denied any knowledge of the still, the Feds confiscated their Cherry Hill and Haddonfield properties,” according to the museum’s Facebook page. The event takes place on Friday, October 4, from 6:30 P.M. – 9:30 P.M. Tickets are $40 per person and can be purchased at https://friends-of-barclay-farmstead.ticketleap.com/.
The museum is open on Wednesdays, 12:00 noon to 4:00 P.M. and the first Sunday of each month from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. Admission is free for Cherry Hill residents, children 12 and under, and members of the Friends of Barclay Farmstead. All other visitors pay $5 for entry; $3 for seniors and students 13 and over.
The Friends of Barclay Farmstead is always looking to expand their board membership as well as find more museum volunteers. Anyone who is interested in history or community relationships is asked to consider joining their board.
“We have a number of active committees with a variety of opportunities to share your talents,” Franz said.
Call the Farmstead office at 856-795-6225 for information regarding an upcoming meeting.