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The property at 511 Cooper Street can easily be divided into three distinct sections, because the building has a relatively stable line of ownership since it was first constructed in 1883. 511 Cooper was originally built by John C. Rogers for Dr. Henry Hunt, then became an office for a revolving number of doctors, and finally housed a law firm that still occupies the building into the present day. The official documents by the New Jersey Office of Historic Preservation, which disclosed why 511 Cooper Street was part of the Cooper Street Historical District, only mention Dr. Henry Hunt and therefore only the first phase of this site’s development.

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As the Camden City Directories revealed, Dr. Henry Hunt lived in 511 Cooper Street until his death in 1896. From 1883-1896, Dr. Hunt lived and had his homeopathic medicine practice within 511 Cooper. The Hunt family had at least four different domestic servants living with them during this period, and they were able to afford a dedicated coachman throughout the 1890’s. Children were not listed in census records or city directories during this time period, but Henry Hunt was already in his 50’s, so his children were potentially living elsewhere. Dr. Hunt’s wife Teresa continued to live on the property until 1901. Teresa’s sister Ann Beatty was a widow and moved into 511 Cooper in 1892. Both Teresa and Ann moved to 431 Penn Street in 1901, and their departure finished the first section of 511 Cooper’s history.

There is a slight research gap between 1901 and 1906 when the property was purchased by Albert Davis. The Camden County Historical Society did not have any information about deed exchanges or the sale of 511 Cooper Street, and city directories did not mention who lived within the property during the five-year gap. There is still a question of who lived on the site during this time, but that addition research will have to be done at a later date.

The city directory for 1905 lists Albert Davis as a student residing in 300 Cooper Street, but the Camden City Directory for 1906 lists Albert Davis as the only resident of 511 Cooper and provides office hours for his medical practice. 1906 Could have been the year Albert graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a medical degree in surgery. It is interesting to note that Albert Davis’s father William went to the University of Pennsylvania, owned a pharmacy at 300 Cooper Street, and was a founding doctor of Cooper Hospital in Camden. Albert would have been well connected with the medical Community throughout Camden County, and he served as the Secretary for the Medical Society of New Jersey throughout the 1910’s and 1920’s. After Davis’ family grew by a wife, two children, and some in-laws, Albert Davis purchased a home in Haddonfield in 1925 and started to rent out sections of 511 Cooper Street. A number of doctors started to practice medicine alongside Albert Davis from the 1920’s until the early 1950’s. Some only rented for a year, while others like George German or Lydia Wright, worked in 511 Cooper for over a decade. A few doctors were listed as residing at 511 Cooper during this period, so the transition to a full commercial building was not yet complete.

The current owners of 511 Cooper Street, the DuBois, Sheehan, Hamilton, Levin & Weissman LLC, purchased the building in 1954, back when they were only known as DuBois & Dubois. None of the lawyers or aids listed at 511 Cooper Street lived within the building, so the building became a full commercial area for the first time in the 1970’s. The DuBois & DubBois Law Firm grew substantially during the later twentieth century, but its main office is still 511 Cooper Street.

There are a number of gaps in this research, both because of time constraints and record availability. Research at the Camden County Historical Society pointed to the loose outline of this three-part structure for 511 Cooper, but a fully descriptive narrative is still many research-hours away. The narrative of 511 Cooper Street does fit within the narrative established by the Cooper Street Historical District. 511 Cooper Street transitioned from a building where professionals lived and worked, to a hub for many professionals to work during the day and lived in the surrounding suburbs at night.

-Joshua Lisowski

Sources:

Camden County Historical Society City Directories

Ancestry.com Census Data

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