RUDOLPH PREISENDANZ SR. was born in Pennsylvania around 1858. He was living in Philadelphia at the time of the 1870 Census. He came to Camden around 1876, going to work as a wagon painter for Jacob Rettberg, who owned a business called the West Jersey Wagon Works, at 15-17 Market Street. Put in the context of today's world, he worked in the 1880 equivalent of an auto body repair shop. When the Census was enumerated again, in 1880, Preisendanz, then 21, was living at 122 Elm Street in the North Camden section of Camden NJ with his wife Annie. He was then working as a wagon painter.

In the late 1880s it appears that he established his own business. The 1887-1888 Camden City Directory shows that Rudolph Preisendanz had moved to 109 Linden Street, and that his business was then located a short walk away, at 111 Front Street. One son, Edward, was born in 1883, another son was also born to the family, Rudolph Jr., as well as a daughter, Hemrietta. 

Rudolph Preisendanz kept a business relationship with Jacob Rettberg. Shortly after the 1893 Camden City Directory was published, Rudolph Preisendanz purchased the West Jersey Wagon Works. The business expanded to 15-21 Market Street, and specialized in building and repairing the light and heavy business wagons used by Camden's many small and large businesses. The firm also maintained a lumber and storage facility across the street at 14 Market Street. He also later acquired Jacob Rettberg's wagon showroom (the equivalent of a new car dealership) at the northwest corner of Delaware Avenue and Market street. 

By the turn of the century the Preisendanz family had moved to 211 Pearl Street. While his business was quite successful, Rudolph Preisendanz suffered from a bad heart. Struck by a near fatal attack around Christmas of 1907, he was revived, but suffered a second and fatal heart attack on January 28, 1908.

A popular and well respected member of Camden's German-American community, Rudolph Preisendanz was a member of the Camden Republican Club, which was in those days locate on Cooper Street, the Camden Lodge of Elks, and the Mozart Masonic Lodge, and other clubs in Camden.  

His sons, Edward and Rudolph Jr., carried on the family business through at least 1920. Edward Preisendanz then made his home at 636 Penn Street, across the street from prominent Camden attorney Howard M. Cooper. Edward Preisendanz also was a charter member of Camden's Rotary Club. Both were active in the fund raising drive that culminated in the building of the Walt Whitman Hotel. Rudolph "Rud" Preisendanz Jr. had moved to Parkside, in a fine home at 1515 Baird Avenue, on which block his neighbors included many of the leading businesspersons in Camden at the time. By the late 1920s the business had relocated to 34-44 North 5th Street. This property was acquired during the construction of City Hall and turned into the park which became known as Roosevelt Plaza. The business was then known as Rudolph Preisendanz Sons and run by Rud Preisendanz Jr., moved to 1706-1716 Federal Street in East Camden, where it specialized in truck bodies. This property had been an automobile dealership in the late 1920s. In 1930 the Preisendanz brothers sold the body business to longtime employee Robert Becker. Rud Preisendanz Jr. went into the broadcast business, setting up the Broadcast Advertising Company. This firm leased municipally-owned radio station WCAM in the 1930s. 

By January of 1938 Rud Preisendanz Jr. had by the passed away. By 1947 the body works had closed, and at 1706-1716 Federal Street a Food Fair grocery store had been erected. 


The Wagon and Carraige Showrooms

Photo dates after 1900. In the early 1900's Rudolph Preisendanz acquired Jacob Rettberg's carriage showrooms (he called them "ware rooms"). The wagon below belonged to Samuel Smith, who had an ice business at 220 Cooper Street

The Elks Lodge
Broadway & Federal Street
as it appeared during the lifetime of Rudolph Preisendanz

The building was remodeled in 1910, the roof being raised and a fourth floor added. 

312 Cooper Street
Home of the Camden Republican Club

Left: Photo Published in 1914 *** Right: February 7, 2004

Click on Image to Enlarge

Philadelphia Inquirer * February 12, 1905

Thomas Walton - Vine Street - Rev. Kittridge Wheeler - Rev. C.K. Binder
John Stowe - Rudolph Preisendanz - George Kappel - Powell Steele
O. Glen Stackhouse






JANUARY 30, 1928



Firmin Michel

Rud Priesendanz Jr.

John J. Crean

Clarence Moulette

George E. Brunner

Frank J. Hartmann Jr.

Frederick von Nieda

Harold W. Bennett

Federal Street