CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: The horse sculpture Diligence has been placed at the intersection of Main and High streets
Moorestown, New Jersey is pleased to announce the completed construction of PERCHERON PARK at the intersection of Main and High Streets in the Town Center. The park will celebrate the town’s agricultural heritage and commemorate the historic first shipment of Percheron horses from France to the USA in 1839 by Moorestown native and gentleman farmer Edward Harris II (1799-1863).
The Percheron became the predominant draft horse breed in America because of its spirited but docile temperament, strength, and stamina, in both farming and hauling. Harris’ home, now called the Smith-Cadbury Mansion, at 12 High Street, is headquarters for the Historical Society of Moorestown.
The Percheron horse had a tremendous impact on the agricultural world. In 1839, when Edward Harris II introduced the Percheron horse to the USA from France, agriculture was a primary occupation in our town and country. Horses were the main source of motive power for farm and road use, and the English type horses being used here then were unsuited in size, strength, stamina, and temperament for the heavy-duty work required.
Harris realized that the Percherons had great potential for improving American work horses, and he went to considerable effort to ship several here and then showcase their superior qualities. By 1930, the Percheron had become the most important draft breed in the development of American agriculture, especially in the Midwest. Harris was lauded by the farming community, and it was written in 1892 that “he should have an Equestrian Monument as the first man to introduce the Draft Horse to America.”
The Friends of Percheron Park have worked toward that goal, and now, 14 years after the suggestion, soil remediation, landscaping, and construction of Percheron Park at Main and High Streets have been completed! There was a dedication celebration on Saturday, October 8th, 2022 at 3:00 in the afternoon, during the Autumn in Moorestown festivities.
The park is a citizen-inspired initiative and the design of Percheron Park was donated by Rebecca Zellner and Depenbrock Designs. Fabrication and installation of the temporary sign was courtesy of NW Sign Industries.
Funding for the park was provided primarily by private contributions, park grants, and township support. For further information about tax-free donation opportunities, click here.
Friends of Percheron Park is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation formed to manage the fund-raising and construction of the park.
The Idea for the Park
In 2006, an appeal was made to the citizens of Moorestown for their thoughts to help revitalize the Town Center area of Main Street. Around that time, there were a number of articles appearing in the newspapers about ideas that surrounding towns were implementing to draw visitors and residents to their fading town centers. What was unique about Moorestown that would entice people to come here? The idea was proposed to erect a statue of a Percheron horse in the Town Center to commemorate the first Percheron horses brought to our country from France in 1839 by Moorestown native Edward Harris II. No other town could lay claim to that history.
The dilemma was to find a suitable location for such a statue. In 2007, when it was revealed that Moorestown was planning to purchase the 1 High Street site for possible use as a pocket park, things fell into place. What better way to celebrate Moorestown’s unique agricultural heritage and historic horse shipments than with an attractive Percheron horse statue gracing an intimate plot, in the center of town, just steps away from Edward Harris’ home!
In 2011, several members of the Moorestown Garden Club provided impetus for construction of the park when they presented a landscape plan to Town Council for their approval. That plan was carried out when the soil remediation was completed.
Benefits of the Park for Moorestown
The park provides a wagonload of benefits to the town as it:
- Provides a focal point for residents and visitors to meet in the Town Center
- Commemorates an occurrence important in the history of Moorestown and the USA
- Symbolizes the proud agricultural heritage and tradition of Moorestown
- Encourages learning about Moorestown’s history
- Introduces public art to Main Street
- Stimulates local merchandising opportunities
- Inspires a revitalization of our Town Center
Did you know?
The horse is the State Animal of New Jersey (the Garden State)
and appears on the state flag.
Web input Jolee Greenberg
Domain name courtesy of Randy Abidin
Header photo courtesy of the Percheron Horse Association of America