Haddon Bindery

The Haddon Bindery stood in two large buildings at 1104-1120 and 1136-1156 Linden Street. The 1924 Camden City Directory shows the Studebaker Garage at 1104 Linden Street, and a series of row homes runnning from 1154 to 1194 Linden Street. The garage closed and the homes were razed to make way for the newly built Admiral Wilson Boulevard by 1929.

In 1942 John Esak founded the Haddon Bindery, using a newly built factory building at 1136-1156 Linden which was connected to the the old garage at 1104-1120 Linden. Esak ran the business into the mid-1970s. Mr. Esak had an apartment built into the premises. 

Unfortunately, he was forced to close the business when rising costs left him unable to make payments on a business loan from a New York-based firm. The bindery closed, its assets sold off, and except for a brief period in the late 1970s when the building was reopened as a farmer's market style retail center, the buildings stood vacant.

On Sunday, April 6, 2008 the old bindery was devastated by a thee-alarm fire that broke out in the 1136-1156 Linden Street building.

Camden Courier-Post - August 9, 1999
Binding their ties to a now-defunct company
Ralph Cirillo checks out some of the books that were printed at the Haddon Bindery in Camden. He and 124 other workers received layoff notices on Christmas Eve in 1976 when the firm was going out of business.


Courier-Post Staff

It was Christmas Eve 1976, and it was a sad day for Ralph Cirillo and his 124 colleagues at the Haddon Bindery.

The 125 workers at the bindery on 11th and Linden Streets in Camden had just been given layoff notices. The firm, which had thrived for 34 years, was going out of business. It seems the bindery was unable to make its loan payments and Heritage Finance Company took over the operation and padlocked the doors.

"I believe they (the owners) folded the tent and "brought all the business up to New York," said Cirillo, noting that the new owners, brothers Mortimer and Bernard Sendor of New York City, sold the bindery buildings to another New York firm for $375,000 in early 1975.

In its heyday in the '40s, '50s, '60s and early '70s the bindery bound two-thirds of all the Bibles printed in the United States, as well as school textbooks, novels, Book-of-the-Month-Club books, and medical and other professional books.

Cirillo still remembers the good old days at the bindery. Now in his 70s, Cirillo was a machine operator at the bindery, where he had spent much of his working life. He said many of his his co-workers were just as sentimental about the closing.

Mary Skokowski, 79, a Gloucester City widow whose husband, Stanley, also worked at the bindery, said, "I liked going to work there every day. I don't know why they closed. I guess they got tired of running the business."

Bob Purden of Gloucester City, in his 60s, worked in the folding department for 20 years. He was temporarily laid off prior to the firm's collapse. "A lot of my friends there lost three and four weeks of vacation pay besides their jobs," he remembered.

Edmund Young Sr. of Pennsauken, now in his early 70s, started there as a bookbinder journeyman in 1952.

"I loved working there, it was like a career. Instead of going to college, I went there," said the father of five who now lives with his wife Marian, in Pennsauken.

When the firm closed, "A lot of the workers were older (than he) and were so heartbroken, it was like losing your home.

"Some died over it," he believes. "You know, it was their life and they were close to retirement."

Cirillo believes that the founder, John H. Esak, who started the business in 1942 was getting too old.

"He had an apartment in Camden and a place in Florida. He just wanted to sell out and retire to Florida," he said.

But a Courier-Post news story at the time reported, "Troubles for the firm began some years ago when the publishing business began to fall on hard times. The cost of labor and paper has cut profits for related industries as well as publishing houses.

"The bindery, whose product is really a part of the publishing operation, found it did not have enough business to support its costs."

Nonetheless, Cirillo and his former colleagues said they still miss the good old days.

The headlines during the firm's last three weeks, in Jan. '76, were filled with hope and despair.

•Jan. 9: Union sees hope for Bindery.
•Jan 10: Bindery's attorney optimistic.
•Jan 13: Owners offer plan to save Bindery.
•Jan. 20: Haddon Bindery gets aid.
The aid was an informal loan guarantee of $300,000 from the Small Business Administration, but it never panned out.

Jan 26: Bindery closes its books, Owners give up loan search; auction set.
•Jan 28: Bindery auction `like a wake' - Its former employees watch plant go on the block.

April 6. 2008
Fire Destroys Large Warehouse In Camden

By Bob Bartosz

Shortly after 4 p.m. on April 6, 2008 Camden City New Jersey Fire Department was dispatched to 11th and Linden Street for a building fire. Responding Companies could see a huge column of smoke in the air and the first in units reported that they had a working fire in a large industrial building.

Battalion 2 (Wilson) requested an “All Hands” be struck, bringing an additional Engine Company and Ladder Company and Car 4 (Don Johnson) and Battalion 1 (Rossi).

Firefighters began an interior attack but was met with heavy fire and smoke and a second alarm was quickly sounded. Responding to the second alarm were two additional Engine Companies and two Ladder Companies. One from Bellmawr Fire Dept. and the other from Audubon Fire Dept., Camden Car 3 (Deputy Chief Yates).

Upon the arrival of Deputy Chief Yates flames were now engulfing half of the building and Chief Yates ordered an evacuation order and an head count was made as firefighters were ordered to setup for an exterior attack. His main concern was to save a 1 1/2 story church that was located only two feet away from the West side of the fire building. Firefighters were also hampered by the lack of water supply and Chief Yates ordered the third alarm to be struck.

Bringing the remaining two, Engine Companies in the City and additional Companies from Pennsauken Fire Dept. and a Ladder Company from Cherry Hill Fire Dept. Firefighters were now instructed to stretch water lines six blocks away to a thirty-inch water main on North 8th Street.

Flames were now racing through the building, the back and sidewalls of the 200 x 250 two and three story building started to fall. Bringing down some power lines, fortunately no one was injured.

Firefighters kept a visual on the nearby Church in order to prevent the flames spreading towards it. The building that was on fire was over 100 years old and was the former Haddon Bindery, a nationally known company and also a Camden City landmark. It was noted for making and publishing of Bibles. Over two thirds of the Bibles that were printed in the United States were made here. It took fire fighters over six hours before the blaze was placed Under Control.

According to Police reports, vagrants were seen running from the building and the fire is Under Investigation by the Camden City Fire Marshal's Office and the Police Department Arson Unit. Two additional Fire Canteen Units from Camden County were dispatched for rehab and refreshments for the nearly 80 fire fighters on the scene.

Photos by Bob Bartosz
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Photos by Craig Campbell
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The Photographer Gets Photographed
Fire Department Photographer Bob Bartosz
Photos by Craig Campbell



For over the 50 years photographer Bob Bartosz has covered the activities of the Camden Fire Department.

On April 6, 2008, at the scene of the fire which destroyed the old Haddon Bindery on Linden Street, Camden real estate agent Craig Campbell took a photograph from which the images of Bob Bartosz at work were cropped.    

MyFox (WTXF Channel 29) Television News

Fire Destroys Large Warehouse in Camden

A three-alarm fire destroyed a 100-year-old warehouse in Camden Sunday evening. The trail of smoke that came from 11th and Linden could be seen from miles away. It shut down some roadways for several hours because the thick clouds of smoke was making it difficult for motorists to see.

The fire broke out around 4pm and drew out many people who gawked at the inferno. "I got a call from my mom. They seen it from city hall and they called. She's like 'Are you ok?'" said Dante Robinson.

"The building is vacant and in bad shape. Main concern right now is the collapse of the building," said Camden Deputy Fire Chief David Yates.

The warehouse used to be the Haddon Bindery which, according to several web stories, used to bind two-thirds of the Bibles printed in the U.S. It closed in the 1970's and as far as neighbors say, has remained vacant since. Except for vagrants.

Yates said that they didn't see anyone inside or around the building when they got there but there were reports of vagrants right before the fire broke out.

No homes were in danger because they were well away from the fire building but the Church of God of Prophecy neighbors the warehouse which was in eminent danger.

"Police come, everybody go outside. There's a fire in the building," said Pastor Froilam Perez. "It's smoking when I coming outside." Perez says the fire was very small when they got out but grew so much, that he feared for the future of his church. "We've been here 13 years. I think maybe the fire is coming to my church. I pray but I need that building for services," said Perez.

Camden Courier-Post - April 7, 2008
Photos by Curt Hudson

Camden Deputy Fire Chief David Yates gives orders by radio as a 3-alarm fire destroyed the old Haddon Bindery at 10th and Linden streets in Camden.

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