Not far from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge sits a vacant historic house built in 1734 facing away from the street towards the water. It is situated on the site of the first English settlement in what is now Camden, then called Cooper's Ferry. William Cooper took ownership of the land in 1689 from William Penn's Shackamaxon. Willam Cooper's grandson, Benjamin, built the house and tavern while his other son, Samuel, inherited the ferry service. In 1777-78, the site was occupied several times while the British occupied Philadelphia and later moving 15,000 troops and supplies through the site when evacuating to New York City. On March 2, 1778, there was even a skirmish between the British and Hessian troops and the American Continentals and New Jersey Militia led by Cavalry General Casmir Pulaski and "Mad" Anthony Wayne. The site is on the list of American Battlefields and Historic Sites as recognized by the US Congress in 1993. 

Today, the Camden County Historical Society (CCHS) has raised $3 million of the $4 million needed to transform the historic tavern into the American Revolution Museum of Southern New Jersey in time for the America’s 250th celebrations on July 4, 2026. The restoration of the Benjamin Cooper Tavern and its adaptive reuse will benefit the State of New Jersey:  

  • by attracting thousands of heritage tourism visitors, especially from Philadelphia during the years leading up to America’s 250th celebrations.  
  • by sharing the overlooked American Revolution history of Southern New Jersey.   
  • by examining the promise of the Declaration of Independence’s statement that “All men are created equal”, as later codified in the US Constitution’s 14thAmendment (equal protection clause), and the struggle for equality to the present day.  
  • by improve New Jersey’s heritage tourism economy.  
  • by becoming the trailhead for the North Camden and Cramer Hill Waterfront Trails Project as part of the 33-mile bicycle and pedestrian Camden County Link Trail to Atlantic County.  

As trailhead for the 34-mile bicycle and pedestrian Camden County Link Trail from the Delaware River to Atlantic County, this important historic restoration project is envisioned as a key hub and welcome center on this trail, providing a nice synergy with the proposed museum/visitor center/community center uses. The Camden County Link Trail is a planned 34-mile multi-use, off-road trail designed to serve as the “spine” for a County-wide trail network. 

In 2017, the County completed a feasibility study for this spine, known at that time as the Cross Camden County Trail. The result was a trail alignment that travels through seventeen municipalities from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Camden to the Gloucester County line in lower Winslow Township. Along the way, the trail will travel through urban, suburban, and rural environments connecting many municipal and county parks and several downtown business districts. In addition, the trail will provide users with the opportunity to access hundreds of acres of public open space in Winslow Township. Camden County recently received a $19 million grant to develop the trail and they are active in acquiring the rights-of-way to complete the trail within the next few years. 

To learn more about the restoration of the Benjamin Cooper Tavern, visit:

To learn more about the Camden County Link Trail, visit: