Haddonfield Restaurateurs to Redevelop Historic Boxwood Hall as Boutique Hotel


R & S Boxwood Hospitality, a group led by Haddonfielder Michael Pasquarello of Café Lift, will overhaul the colonial-era home into a 10-bedroom inn with a small restaurant and landscaped grounds.

By Matt Skoufalos | May 2, 2024

Boxwood Hall Landscape Master Plan. Credit: Sikora Wells Appel.

After a decade of stops and starts, a shuttered, historic Haddonfield property is headed for a return to active use.

The 225-year-old Boxwood Hall has sat dormant since 2014, when the borough government acquired it for $1.8 million to head off a builder’s remedy lawsuit.

In the time since, Haddonfield has struggled to find a suitable use for the parcel.

In 2017, a local group, Boxwood Arts Theater and Cultural Center, proposed constructing a public gallery for Markeim Arts Center and a 4,000-square-foot ballroom for Dance Haddonfield on the site.

That plan met with pushback from neighbors on the block, and ultimately, the group retired its request in 2018, citing “poor soil quality and other site conditions,” according to a statement from Haddonfield commissioners.

Without any other redevelopment pitch for the site in the subsequent five years, the borough government issued a request for proposals in January 2023.

The lone respondent was R & S Boxwood Hospitality, LLC, which inked a conditional redevelopment deal with the borough in September 2023, and to which the property was sold for $200,000 on April 8, 2024.

On Wednesday, Haddonfield Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich and Commissioner Frank Troy joined Michael Pasquarello of R & S Boxwood Hospitality on the front lawn of Boxwood Hall to discuss their plans to transform the space into a 10-bedroom hotel with an onsite restaurant, guest pool, and landscaped grounds.

Pasquarello said the new ownership group intends to celebrate the historical detail of the site, specifically by finding ways to link current experiences on the property to its colonial past.

“I’m very excited for the historic aspect of this,” he said. “We just want to respect and love the building.”

Pasquarello’s 13th Street Kitchens restaurant group operates Prohibition Taproom, Kensington Quarters, La Chinesca, and Café Lift in Philadelphia, also runs a second Café Lift in downtown Haddonfield, and is redeveloping the historic First National Bank & Trust Company of Merchantville.

From left: Michael Pasquarello of R&S Boxwood Hospitality, Haddonfield Commissioners Frank Troy and Colleen Bianco Bezich at Boxwood Hall in Haddonfield. Credit: Matt Skoufalos

“The goal is to see to it that it feels and looks like it did at that time, with modern amenities,” Pasquarello said.

“The finished product has a better feel when it’s designed as close [to what it was]intended to be.”

As a functioning inn, Boxwood Hall can host guests who are interested in visiting a historic property just a short walk away from the central business district in “a destination town,” he said.

Bianco Bezich spoke about the distinct position of the property as “a local, engaging historic activation for the benefit of the whole community.

“Cultural tourism is something that we can work to attract as well as retiring grandparents,” the mayor said.

On its nomination form to the National Register of Historic Places Inventory, the property at 65 Haddon Avenue is described as “Haddonfield’s choicest 18th-century dwelling.” Built in 1799 by Elizabeth Haddon’s nephew, John Estaugh Hopkins, it officially was accepted into the register in 1982.

That narrative describes the architecture on the property as follows:

“Two-story frame with recessed wing having gambrel roof, and two dormer windows. Windows of large portion have nine over nine lights on first floor, six over nine on second floor. Original beaded siding, wood shingle roof, massive inside chimneys. Simple porticoed entrance with original block-paneled door, fan light. Sits back from street and is well-landscaped. All original, unaltered.”

Finding a redevelopment partner with passion and diligence for the historic restoration process and a vision to achieve a viable outcome is as critical to the success of the redevelopment as any other element of the plan, the mayor said.

“This is not the same as what a traditional housing site would command in Haddonfield,” Bianco Bezich said. “The borough cannot undertake property management. These headaches never should have been ours to inherit.”

Some of the grounds at Boxwood Hall in Haddonfield could open to the public in the course of its redevelopment. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

“Vision without action is a daydream,” Troy said. “That’s what got us here today. To do something on this property, you have to get creative with it.”

R & S Boxwood Hospitality has named Thomas Wagner its architect for the project, and Sikora Wells Appel as its grounds and landscaping partner; both are Haddonfield-based firms. Pasquarello said his group is still searching for a design partner and has yet to solidify its branding plan for the property.

The project now enters a 90-day due diligence period, followed by 12 months of approvals that will be necessary to acquire from local and state historic preservation boards, plus site planning and other local applications.

‘We’d love to see all approvals within a year,” Bianco Bezich said.

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