Broadway Trust

Broadway Trust, also known as Broadway Merchants Trust

938-944 Broadway, Camden, NJ

The Broadway Trust Company building was built prior to World War I. The architect was Phillip Merz who was based in Rochester NY and the building was constructed by the J. Henry Miller Co. of Baltimore MD, who also built the building which would become the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s third home in Washington DC, and the Bank of America Building in Baltimore MD.

The Broadway Trust Company was led by John J. Burleigh, one of the leading businessmen in South Jersey from the 1870s through World War I. William J. Cooper, who owned a business at 215-221 Kaighn Avenue selling doors windows and moldings, served as one vice president; the other was Anthony Kobus, who was in the shoe business at South 4th and Spruce Streets. Adam Schlorer, the owner of a large meat business at South 8th & Chestnut Streets, was also one of the original organizers.

According to the city directories, John J. Burleigh was president of the bank through 1916. Anthony Kobus succeeded him until he passed away in 1920. Later principal officers included Judge John B. Kates and Cramer Hill bottler John Schimpf. Also connected with the bank during the 1910s was T. Yorke Smith.

On October 5, 1920 Broadway Trust’s bank messenger, David S. Paul, mysteriously disappeared while carrying tens of thousands of dollars worth of cash and securities. His body was found on October 16 at Irick’s Crossing, near Tabernacle in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. He had been kidnapped, murdered and robbed by two acquaintances, Frank J. James and Raymond Schuck, who were tried and convicted of his murder. They were executed in New Jersey’s electric chair on August 30, 1921.

During the 1920s a series of mergers occurred among the smaller banks of Camden. The relatively small Broadway Trust attempted to keep pace with its larger competitors by absorbing the Merchants Trust, a small bank at Broadway and Carman Street that catered to Camden’s business community. By 1927 a small satellite branch was open at Mount Ephraim Avenue at Jackson Street. However, after the stock market crash of 1929 as the country slipped into the Depression many small banks failed across the country. The Broadway Merchants Trust survived 1930 as evidenced by the stock certificate shown below but closed shortly afterwards.

The building hasn’t functioned as a bank since it closed. In recent years it has been used as a church. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Sadly, on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, the building was heavily damaged by a fire, as reported in The Courier-Post.

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