2012 photo of Farmer's Hall
Backstory and Context
Farmer's Hall (sometimes spelled Farmers' Hall) stood as the center of cultural and civic life for much of Mount Laurel's history, serving the town from 1866 to 1969. Indeed, the hall opened six years before the incorporation of the city in 1872. From 1866 to 1904, the Farmer's Protective Club, who built the hall, used it for meetings and events, both one's they hosted and by other civic groups. In 1904, Mt. Laurel took ownership of the building and used it as its town hall until 1969. Farmer's Hall personifies local Quaker Architectural conservatism with its simple Greek Revival design, which is in sharp contrast to the ornate architecture of the 1860s. Thus, the simple design speaks more to the people who built it more than the style or period.
David Parnell, one of the Farmer's Protective Club founders (the group that built the hall), donated the land to Mount Laurel. Farmer's Hall was built directly across from Evesham Meeting House (circa 1760) and adjacent to the original Quaker school (now altered). Within ten years, the club consisted of 110 life members. However, the building ultimately served the entire community in various ways, including a meeting place for the Lodge of Good Templars and the Mount Laurel Pursuing and Detection Society (the town's first form of policing). As well, the Progressive Farmers Club sponsored two annual exhibitions at the hall. In 1904, the Farmers Club donated the building to the township to use as the Mount Laurel Town Hall, which it did until 1969 when Mount Laurel municipal offices moved into a new complex of buildings two miles "up the road" toward Moorestown.
Construction of a new town hall in 1969 left Farmer's Hall vacant, and in 1972, locals established The Mount Laurel Historical Society to save Farmer's Hall from demolition. Today, the Historical Society of Mount Laurel leases the building from Mount Laurel Township; they have spend decades renovating and restoring the building. In addition to its modern function as the home to the historical society, it stands as a monument to the town's early history when Farmer's Hall served a village with a little more than 1,000 people, mainly Quakers.
Clark, Zanie. "Mt. Laurel Historical Society to open historic Farmers’ Hall on second Sunday in July and August.." The Sun Newspapers (Pennsauken, NJ) June 14, 2008. https://thesunpapers.com/2018/06/14/mt-laurel-historical-society-to-open-historic-farmers-hall-on-second-sunday-in-july-and-august/
Fricker, Jonathan C. "Nomination Form: Farmer's Hall." National Register of Historic Places. nps.gov. January 10, 1977. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/3a01a07c-b7af-4f60-b4f7-2caa81413881/.
Mount Laurel Historical Society. Accessed February 15, 2021. https://www.mountlaurelhistoricalsociety.com/.
By Apc106 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21702656