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The History Page

This is part one of a photo essay developed by Kitty Katzell and Maggie Heineman for the 40th Anniversary of Medford Leas in 2011
Part 1   In the Beginning     Over the Years     Quaker Values     The Arboretum 
Part 2   Health and Fitness    Buildings and Changes     Traditions     Governance
Part 3   Mental Stimuli     Innovations     
  Then and Now

In Their Footsteps - by Os Cresson

A brief history of the lives of people who lived on the property called Lumberton Leas


In 1911, a boarding home for elderly ladies was opened in Haddonfield, New Jersey. It was a three-story house across the street from the Friends’ cemetery and the Haddonfield Friends School, near the Haddonfield Meeting. Next door was the library, where some of the ladies borrowed books and volunteered. The home was managed by a group of Friends (Quakers) who named it “The Estaugh,” after John Estaugh, an early Friend.

The Estaugh in Haddonfield - Watercolor by Todd Butler

A Century Ago
1911 Estaugh Boarding Home opened
1971 Medford Leas opened
1972 Community Building opened
1973 John Estaugh Building opened
1975 Elizabeth Haddon Pavilion opened
1976 John Woolman Building opened
1980 Lewis W. Barton Arboretum designated
1984 Rushmore opened
1985 Woolman Commons opened
1986 New Auditorium opened
1987 New Library opened
1988 Bridlington opened
1988 Nature Center built
1994 Coffee Shop opened
1999 Lumberton Leas opened
2003 New Fitness Center opened
2007 New Arts and Social Wing opened
2008 Atrium and Gift Shop renovated

At The Estaugh "boarding home for elderly ladies" rates were as low as $10 per week for room and board, varying with room location and whether the resident was Friend or not, though most were Friends.

Having a tray served in one’s room cost 10¢, which went to the waitress for her extra work.

After 55 years the boarding home became obsolete and needed extensive repair. The Estaugh Board first sought to build a new facility in Moorestown but that town turned them down. When the mayor of Medford learned of the problem, he invited Lew Barton, Chairman of the Estaugh, to look at the Mickle Farm.

A creek and woodlands adjoined the property, and what was to become the signature holly tree stood next to a windmill.

Mickle farm and the "Historic Holly," which still stands on the right side of the road approaching the office.

Train West of Campus
A section of the rail bed is now part of the trail system

The farm was on fairly high ground for the area, lying near a major highway, a railroad, and a town that provided essential services.

Money was quickly raised and the property purchased. Plans had to be developed, approvals obtained, and the myriad of details completed before construction could begin in 1970.

The Estaugh’s first quarters during this planning phase were in the offices of the Lewis W. Barton Co. on Marlkress Road in Cherry Hill. Blueprints filled the office for many months. Later, a trailer parked near the holly tree was the architects’ office and storage area.

The Estaugh office finally moved to Medford Leas in February 1971, and the trailer soon disappeared. For the first 16 months, Court #1 was Medford Leas headquarters.

The Director was in the living room of Apartment 5 in Court 1; the Assistant Director in the east bedroom of Apt. 6; the Receptionist in the living room of that apartment, with Accounting staff in the second bedroom. When the office moved to the Central Building early in 1972, Apartments 5 and 6 in Court 1 became the Health Center.

The first ten courts were built in this order: 1, 8, 2, 7, 9, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10. Courts 3, 4, and 5 were delayed because they were built on landfill; Court 6 was delayed because it was used as headquarters for workmen. One apartment was for carpenters, another for painters, another for electricians, etc.

Medford Leas celebrates
its birthday on March 2.

Gladys Fleming became the first resident on March 2, 1971

Gladys Fleming, who moved into what is now Apartment 11 on March 2, 1971, was the only resident for two weeks.

Planks were put down in the mud in order for the station wagon delivering her and her furniture to get from New Freedom Road through the woods. There was debris everywhere. For her security, a hole was cut in the wall so she could reach the phone in the “office” on the other side.

In the fall of 1971, a chef was engaged to prepare dinners on weekday evenings. He and a waitress served the residents in the old Party Room in Court 7. Later, dinners were served in an apartment in Court 10. Early residents recall that the women typically wore cocktail dresses to dinner, and evening dresses to special dinners in the Private Dining Room.

The area around Medford Leas was composed of farms and it was often necessary for staff to be called to herd cattle from Medford Leas courtyards and meadows back to the barn on the Hennissee Farm. That is the farm on which Bridlington now stands.

The plaque above can be seen in the entry foyer of the community building. It recognizes the contributions of the founders of Medford Leas.

Margo watching the game.
The scoreboard says Happy Birthday to Margo and other Phillies fans
More photos of Margo's birthday party


None of the original 1971 "pioneers" is still with us, but less than four years later Margo Hinman moved in on February 17, 1975. Margo is still going strong and, on her 95th birthday in 2010, she and friends from Medford Leas celebrated her 95th birthday by attending a Phillies baseball game.

By 1975 when Margo came there had already been some major changes around Medford Leas.

The Community Building opened in 1972, the John Estaugh Building in 1973. Work was proceeding on the Elizabeth Haddon Pavilion, which opened later in 1975, and the John Woolman Building would open in 1976.

Over the next 35 years, the Barton Arboretum, Rushmore, Bridlington, and the Lumberton campus would be established, Woolman Commons would come and go, and internal changes would take place. Through it all, there has been the sense of community that is so well illustrated by the two-way street of caring interaction between residents and staff. And it is that sense of community that will be the focus of events throughout 2011 in observance of this birthday.


The Estaugh is guided by the teachings and beliefs of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), particularly the basic tenet that there is “That of God” in everyone and the respect for the sanctity of every individual that is inherent in that belief. The Estaugh is further guided by the following Quaker testimonies: peace and nonviolence, equality, stewardship, simplicity, integrity, and community. These values are found in all phases of life at Medford Leas.

For example, Medford Leas reflects Friends’ appreciation for simplicity in its décor and building design. There are no elaborately decorated interiors or ostentatious structures. The facility is functional, friendly, and attractive with beautiful natural landscaping.

Although fewer than a third of Medford Leas residents are members of the Religious Society of Friends, the influence of Quaker values on life at Medford Leas makes residents of all beliefs welcome here.


Stewardship is especially noteworthy. Respect and appreciation for nature is easily seen in the number and range of the sub-committees under the residents’ Nature Coordinating Committee, which includes Birding, Wildflowers, the Farm, Nature Preserve, Woodlands, Courtyard Mapping, Nature Library, Nature Bulletin Boards and Displays. The vigorous outcry when the woods and meadows were to be violated in earlier expansion plans attests to this value among all who are involved with Medford Leas. Protection of God’s creation is a concern of Friends. THE LEWIS W BARTON ARBORETUM

The two-way street of caring interaction between residents and staff is the best illustration of the values of equality and community. For example, the incomes from the residents’ Workshop, Thrift Shop, and Gift Shop help to provide employee scholarships and to express residents’ appreciation of staff. The Staff Holiday Show and other programs exemplify the give and take on a grand scale, communicating a concern for individuals.

2011 Holiday Show Photo Essay
with links to Photographs of Holiday Shows since 2005


Lewis W. Barton was one of the founders of Medford Leas, a horticulturist by education and lifelong experience, an Estaugh Board member, and a resident. His daughter, Nancy Barclay, is now a resident of Bridlington and chairman of the Estaugh’s Arboretum Committee. Nancy recalls coming with her parents to walk around the Mickle property, which would become Medford Leas.

As construction proceeded, Lew guided the landscaping around the campus. He advised what to plant to achieve maximum beauty year-round, and he contributed many specimens. The first landscape architect hired by Medford Leas was charged with designing the courts’ plantings so that each would be unique, and they remain so to this day.

Court Seven

In 1980, at a reception attended by Lew Barton, the entire campus of Medford Leas was formally named the Lewis W. Barton Arboretum. After Lois Forrest became Medford Leas Director in 1979, she invited Ernesta Ballard, head of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, to visit. During their walk around the property, Mrs. Ballard taught one of the basic lessons about plantings: during their first five years, the area will seem under-planted; during the next five years, things will seem about right; during the third five years, they will be over-planted and become ready for redevelopment. Mrs. Ballard advised Medford Leas to obtain the services of an established arboretum and recommended the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. Paul Meyer, who was on the staff of the Morris Arboretum and later was to become its director, became the first liaison in 1981. Bob Wells is the current liaison.

The Estaugh’s Arboretum Committee includes members of the Estaugh Board, staff, residents, and the community. They meet quarterly in the Nature Center to review the current status of the Arboretum and to lay plans for the future. When the Lumberton campus became part of Medford Leas, it also became part of the Arboretum.


The creation of a Memorial Garden was approved by the Estaugh Board in 1999. It is available for scattering of residents’ ashes and for private meditation. The garden, located in a wooded area across from Parking Lot B, is nicely landscaped and contains two benches.


Lumberton Meadow in the Rain

In 2000, a landscape architect was invited to design a special “healing garden” in the terrace space between the Estaugh and Haddon buildings. Now known as the Back Porch Garden, the area is a popular setting for cookouts, concerts, bird and butterfly watching, and residents’ plantings of flowers and occasional vegetables.


The Lewis Barton Arboretum has been mapped using GPS satellites. Coordinates divide the campus into 200-sq.-ft. grids inside which individual trees are identified. Each identified tree has been assigned a number, and signs with the number and the common and scientific names are being affixed to the trees. Much work remains to be completed before all this information will be readily accessible. Information Technology has prepared a program that makes it possible to locate any specific tree on the campus.

Residents and visitors to the Arboretum can locate on the grid every flowering crabapple tree, or all of the varieties of pine, or specific trees planted on the Medford campus. Photographs of each tree in different seasons will be available on line. Landscaping staff will also keep a tree journal, including notes on the care, treatment, and condition of each tree, which can be accessed by maintenance crews, residents, and visitors to the Arboretum.

Several members of the Maintenance Department have special training and experience in landscaping. These people have primary responsibility for the care of the plantings throughout the Arboretum, including those in the Atrium, Courtyard Gardens, the Nature Preserve, the Meadows, the Pinetum, and the Arboretum in general.

In November 2010, work began on a new Native Garden. Medford Leas has applied for certification by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance in Vincentown as a “certified native garden.”  In 2011 Medford Leas joined the Native Plant Society.    more about the Native Garden

  Part Two     Part Three