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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.


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 become 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 public parks in the state. One of our aims is to promote the Nail House's educational use, including tours for schoolchildren 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

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 since before the Revolution.

It is steeped in a marinade of precolonial,

colonial and postcolonial histories and cultures.  


Bridgeton’s architectural range

is encyclopedic: from cabin to castle, high Victorian to classical revival to modernist.

The Historic District itself includes an

amazing number of individual architectural gems, many designed by noted architects. 

The Cohansey River

Historic Architecture 

CHABA has been collaborating with the City of  Bridgeton and the New Jersey Historic Trust to make essential repairs to this 'founder' site, which, in 1815, became first home to the Cumberland Nail & Iron Works, and helped launch Bridgeton as an industrial powerhouse.

  Now, In this post-industrial era, we are not only making it accessible again, but telling its stories --not just of ironmasters and ironworkers, but its classic tale of 'grunge to green'--its 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 our social and cultural life, and not just keep them alive but make them beacons of environmental practice for the future.

Contact Us


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

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