Founded in 1874, Merchantville is a spirited community outside of Center City Philadelphia and near Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Historically, Merchantville served as a residential hamlet for wealthy Philadelphia business owners, while others summered in this South Jersey center. With the completion of the Ben Franklin Bridge in 1926, Merchantville embarked on a prosperous path and a new era of expansion that continues to this day.
A classic mix of 19th and early 20th century architecture and tree-lined streets with beautifully maintained gardens define the historic borough and its vital downtown. Less than one square mile, Merchantville is home to almost 3,800 residents. Quaint and intimate, Merchantville offers an unprecedented and authentic sense of community.
Merchantville combines timeless values with modern amenities. Over the past century, it has benefited from a caring and committed community that is actively involved in preserving its history, while positioning it for a promising future. Bounded by parks at each of its corners, the borough is extremely pedestrian friendly with a bike and walking path that runs right through the center of town along Chestnut Avenue. Residents can walk to many of Merchantville’s destinations, including its restaurants, markets, and houses of worship, and children can walk to the local public and private schools.
Many of Merchantville’s historic homes still stand. Serving as a focal point for the community, they have been lovingly restored and maintained by their owners.
The character and ambiance of the community, together with its proximity to Center City Philadelphia and other notable New Jersey neighborhoods, make Merchantville a marvelous place to call home.
Merchantville’s tree-lined streets, colorful awnings, historic storefronts, and vintage street lamps encourage residents to come out and support local business owners and service providers. They stop for coffee and tea, to enjoy a magnificent meal at one of Merchantville’s many restaurants, and to explore the array of specialty shops, like Aunt Charlotte’s Candies, antique stores, and art galleries that comprise its unique commercial district.
Although small in size, an impressive variety of goods and services are available within Merchantville. Residents are able to ride their bikes or walk to make purchases from its many locally owned shops. These local businesses, combined with the efforts of the Merchantville Business Association and Task Force, have resulted in a vibrant economy and retail offering that attracts residents from the surrounding region and beyond.
A transit-oriented community, many residents take advantage of the opportunities across the river in Philadelphia, as well as those throughout New Jersey. New Jersey Transit provides service from Main Street Merchantville into Center City Philadelphia, allowing for a relaxing and convenient commute.
Downtown Merchantville is a center for excitement. Residents have a remarkable number of opportunities for fun, freedom, and fanfare. First Fridays are always a favorite. Galleries, restaurants, and retailers all feature art, music, and movies.
Parks can be found throughout the community and offer an array of athletic fields, walking trails, and playgrounds for the little ones. The Merchantville Mile, a paved multi-use path, runs the length of Merchantville along the path of former railroad tracks.
For those seeking other outlets, Merchantville’s Essence Fitness offers both personal training and group training. The Eilandarts Center in the Station is a perennial favorite that features a naturally lit gallery space, three dedicated music rooms, and a fully-stocked arts and crafts center including sewing machines, book-binding, and ceramics supplies. Classes are offered year-round to all ages in a wide variety of subjects, such as music, art, yoga, writing, languages, photography, and more.
Throughout the year, a number of seasonal celebrations and annual festivals also engage the local community. Some of these many events include the Merchantville Birthday Celebration on the first Saturday in June, the Garden Tours and the Merchantville Crafts & Fine Arts Festival, the Merchantville Classic Car Show, Easter Egg Hunt, and the Town-Wide Yard Sale. On Saturdays from June through October, Market Off Centre offers local produce, crafts, goods, and live music. Every October, Merchantville transforms into Monsterville with a Haunts of Merchantville Home Decorating Contest where the winners win a golden broomstick and championship belt. In November, there is a Turkey Trot 5K, and the year wraps up with the annual Holiday Parade.
Merchantville is a treasure trove of a variety of well-preserved styles of residential architecture. This walking tour adapts and combines the Merchantville Historical Society's individual district tours. They can be walked separately or together depending what you choose to explore during your time in Merchantville. Detailed descriptions of the houses in each tract are linked to in the directions below or can be obtained in person at Borough Hall, One West Maple Avenue.
The Cattel Tract Historic District is the oldest area of Merchantville. It is bounded roughly by N. Chestnut Ave., Cove Rd., Rogers Ave., and Leslies Ave. and offers architectural examples of Victorian-era suburban living. Styles include Queen Ann, Late Gothic Revival, and Second Empire structures. Each maintains a high degree of architectural integrity and is in excellent condition.
The Oaks Historic District includes 14 single-family residences. Twelve are well-preserved houses from the early twentieth century, two are modern and therefore considered to be “non-contributing” to the historical significance of the district. This small district contains a variety of revival architectural styles including Neoclassical, Tudor, & Colonial. Architects have been documented for four of the homes.