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This recently renovated office duplex dates back to 1920 when attorney A.S. Woodruff had the two adjoining buildings constructed with the purpose of renting space to the growing number of lawyers and other professionals in Camden during the post-war boom. As the suburban Philadelphia town grew, its need for real estate agents, insurance professionals and attorneys grew, but most worked in makeshift offices. The Woodruff buildings, followed by the Wilson Building skyscraper in 1926, demonstrate the growth of Camden. However, that boom would come to an end in the 1930s and the area saw stagnation followed by a period of decline in the last half of the twentieth century. In recent years, the area has seen a renewed investment. The Wilson Building now houses a High School and the Woodruff and Law Buildings have been fully renovated.

A.S. Woodruff and Law Buildings in Camden, NJ

A.S. Woodruff and Law Buildings in Camden, NJ

The Georgian Revival A.S. Woodruff and Law Buildings (circa 1920) are two connected buildings that appear as one in central downtown Camden. They are the only buildings in central downtown Camden explicitly constructed as law offices, arriving during the start of Camden's boom years during the 1920s. As the city grew, the number of attorneys in Camden expanded along with the banking and insurance business.

Camden grew as an industrial town outside of Philadelphia that, much like the entire nation, boomed after World War I ended in 1918. The erection of the Delaware Bridge in 1926 (now known as the Ben Franklin Bridge) speaks to the "Greater Camden Movement," and the growing investments in the suburban city. Camden also served as the county seat and ostensibly the financial center of southern New Jersey. As a result, the town increasingly needed lawyers to handle a multitude of government, business, and personal needs, and the Woodruff and Law Buildings served as an early step towards accommodating attorneys in Camden. 

Albert S. Woodruff owned the buildings and worked as an attorney; he maintained his offices there. The twin office buildings originally adjoined on the second floor, but at some point, the opening that connected the buildings was sealed, thus legally becoming two buildings. Prior to its opening, Camden's lawyers worked in homes and various office spaces, often makeshift rooms not truly suitable for law work. By 1926, many lawyers, both in the Woodruff Law Building and scattered around town, moved into the modern skyscraper known as the Wilson Building. As a result, notaries, real estate agents, a dentist, and other professionals moved into the Woodruff Law Building. 

Camden's success weened during the Great Depression and World War II, followed by many industries' departure during the 1950s. Thus, the second half of the twentieth century proved vastly different for the town than its 1920s boom. Nonetheless, during the first decade of the 2000s, the investors undertook a project to renovate the Woodruff Law Building. In 2006, the acclaimed Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia awarded the project its Grand Jury Award. It remains a functional office duplex in Camden and speaks to the area's rebirth. 

Gillette, Howard. Camden After the Fall: Decline and Renewal in a Post-Industrial City. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. Accessed January 2, 2021.

Powers, Mathew and Clio Admin. "Wilson Building in Camden, New Jersey." Clio: Your Guide to History. January 2, 2021. Accessed January 11, 2021.

State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection "2006 Historic Preservation Awards." 16th Annual Preservation Awards Ceremony.

Thompson, Priscilla M. and Franklyn M. Thompson. "328: A S. Woodruff Building; 330: law Building." National Register of Historic Places. August 24, 1990.


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By Smallbones - Own work, Public Domain,