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the Center for Historic American Building Arts

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Preservation for the People !


CHABA is a people-centered, multilingual and multicultural non-profit dedicated to preserving the past and building the future of Bridgeton, New Jersey--proud owner of the state's largest nationally-registered historic district, with some 2000 properties!


Our HomeFronts program offers free advice or affordable preservation services for properties that are

privately-owned, and we seek grants for public sites. But we are also storytellers. We call it 'scripting the landscape'--anchoring

places in the human experience over time.


For us, preservation is futurism--about creating a healthy, inclusive, vibrant, sustainable community for all.

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Need help repairing or restoring an historic house? Call US First!856.221.3280 Leave a message.Someone will get back to you FAST

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CHABA is assisting the City of Bridgeton in preserving the 'Nail House' at the entrance to Bridgeton City Park--surviving home of the former Cumberland Nail & Iron Works, and one of the most storied places in South Jersey. Through a combination of grants--City, County and State--we are completing repairs that have already enabled this little building to be a hub of social and cultural activity again for people of all ages, and return to life as the ceremonial entrance to one of the largest urban parks in the state. One of our aims is to promote the Nail House's educational use, including tours for school children at every level. Look for our heavily-illustrated  "intergenerational children's book"  telling this "grunge to green"  200-year story! Its colorful down-to-earth language (English and Spanish) has already

made it a local classic!

"CHABA brings people together and makes our community stronger AND more beautiful!
I'm proud to support their mission" - Nadia Albizu

Named for the tiny bridge that has straddled the Cohansey River here since 1716, Bridgeton has been

the seat of New Jersey’s rural Cumberland County and the hub of its commercial activity

since before the Revolution. It is steeped in a marinade of pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial histories and cultures that--layer on layer--have flavored the South Jersey region for centuries.  


With over 2,000 inividual properties,

the district’s architectural range is encyclopedic--from cabin to castle, high Victorian to classical revival to modernist.

It also includes an amazing number of

individual architectural gems, many designed by noted architects. 

A premier example of an Arts & Crafts home on Bridgeton's west side

CHABA has been collaborating with the City of Bridgeton

and the New Jersey Historic Trust to make essential

repairs to the 1815 first home to the Cumberland Nail & Iron Works, a 'founder site' that helped launch Bridgeton as an industrial powerhouse.  Now--In this post-industrial era, we are not only making it accessible and usable again, but telling its stories--of ironmasters and ironworkers, of course--but also of its 'grunge to green' transformation in the 20th century into a resource for recreation and culture at the very entrance to Bridgeton City Park. 


We know we can reclaim and 'adaptively reuse' historic places in the social and cultural life of our communities, and not just keep them alive but make them beacons of environmental practice for the future.

A flyer for a 'maker' event at the Nail House,  is conveniently located on the edge of the Downtown, at the entrance to Bridgeton City Park--

both popular community destinations


Together, we can ensure that Bridgeton's rich history and culture are not just preserved, but made valuable, visible, useful and sustainable for generations to come.

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