Asher Woolman built this two-story, brick farmhouse in 1807. It replaced a 1754 dwelling, which Woolman marked by putting a date stone on this building commemorating the older house. The unadorned, Federal-style dwelling was built on land that had been in the Woolman family since the late seventeenth century. Asher’s grandfather was an original West Jersey Proprietor, and his older brother, John, an itinerant preacher, was an influential Quaker thinker and antislavery advocate. John Woolman’s Journal, a masterwork of colonial American literature, has been in print continuously since it was first published in 1774. Woolmans and their descendants lived on this property in the Rancocas section of Westampton well into the twentieth century.
The Asher Woolman house, which has been vacant since the 1970s, is in poor condition. Although the site has been largely devoured by roads and commercial development – it is now adjacent to an I-295 on-ramp – the property is all that remains of the Woolman family, a pillar of the Quaker community.
With the support of Woolman descendants who would like to see the complex saved, the Rancocas Historical Society tried to buy the building, a barn associated with the house, and a small piece of land. They were unsuccessful because the owner, a realtor, would prefer to sell the buildings together with all the land on which they sit.
The plight of the Asher Woolman homestead is a reminder that many absentee owners allow valuable historic properties in New Jersey to deteriorate. The Woolman homestead is an important artifact from the period when Quakers were a dominant social and political force in New Jersey. PNJ believes the Woolman homestead warrants a better fate than the outcome that awaits it when the property is sold for development. It deserves to be preserved to remind future generations of the Woolmans and their community.