By Joseph Busler
It’s Savannah Mews no more!
No, the 160-odd housing development on the Rhawn Tract has not been cancelled. As much as we hate to see the horse farm go, plans for the transit village remain on track.
But it will be called, “Crossings at Delanco Station.”And the streets will be called Dobbins Alley, Tolson Alley, Walton Alley, Denning Drive, Austin Lane, Sterling Drive, Hartley Lane, Walton Way, Preston Drive, and Morrison Drive. The streets will be named for past members of the Delanco Choral Society, which was established in the early 1900s. The street names will continue a tradition started by John Rahenkamp, developer of Newton’s Landing and the Point, of naming new residential streets east of the railroad tracks after Delanco residents.
“After much discussion and consideration as to the positioning of this community, along with the insistence of the township that we come up with a new name to replace Savannah Mews, a name that seems to cover the majority of the bases is Crossings at Delanco Junction,” developer Peter Hovnanian wrote in a statement to the township.
“Also, in an attempt to incorporate some of the town’s long and rich history into the community, the following street names, 10 in total, are named after members of the Delanco Choral Society, which was first established in the early 1900s.
“… I trust that these suggestions will get the blessings of the town, which will help us further to expedite approval process of Crossings at Delanco Junction.”
A number of members of the Township Committee and the Joint Land Use Board loathed the name “Savannah Mews” for, among other things, its total lack of connection with Delanco or the local area. Led by Committeewoman Kate Fitzpatrick, they have conducted a high-pressure campaign in recent months to persuade Hovnanian to choose another name.
The name “Crossings at Delanco Junction” pays homage to the Delanco train station, which gave Delanco its name.
In the fall of 1833, the Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company extended its tracks from Bordentown to a stop in Wellingborough Township that is now Delanco.
The rail company named the train station, near the present RiverLINE stop, “Delanco,” the first use of the term – a contraction of DELaware River and rANCOcas Creek.
The name “Delanco” was first used for the then-rapidly-developing residential community in 1857, when the U.S. Post Office created the Delanco Post Office on Oct. 5. Before that, the houses that comprise the heart of Delanco Village on the old Wilmerton Farm along Rancocas Creek were called Delaranco, and other sections were called by various names such as Rancocas.
The first postmaster, storekeeper Micajah Dobbins, was an ancestor for the person Dobbins Alley is named for.
In 1857, Delanco was still part of Wellingborough (Willingboro) Township. It became part of Beverly Township, which no longer exists, in 1859. Delanco was unincorporated and considered a village, a rail and steamboat stop, and a post office within Beverly Township. It was, however, enumerated as a separate entity by the Census Bureau beginning in 1860. Delanco was incorporated as a township on Dec. 20, 1926.
The photograph accompanying this article shows members of the Choral Society posing in town hall in the early 1900s. Those in the picture are not the individuals for whom the streets will be named. A version of the photograph appears on page 18 of The Delanco Story: Its Past and Present, prepared for the Bicentennial in 1976. An online version of the rare book is available online on the Delanco Township Web site, Delanco Township - Home Page.