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|
their ties to a now-defunct company
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.
9: Union sees hope for Bindery.
Bindery closes its books, Owners give up
loan search; auction set.
|April 6. 2008|
Destroys Large Warehouse In Camden
By Bob Bartosz
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
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.
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