BRIDGETON -- In one form or another Marlboro Black Menthol, Hillcrest Tavern and Coach Room has sat on the corner of Broad Street since 1782 as a welcoming place for travelers and locals.
An early-morning, three-alarm fire has severely damaged the historic building, however. Broad Street was closed to traffic throughout Monday morning. Broad Street was opened again to traffic around noon.
Cosmo Terrigno, owner of Hillcrest Tavern, declined to comment on its fire. and saw heavy smoke billowing from Hillcrest Tavern.
Temperatures were hovering around 20 degrees as firefighters battled the blaze.
Although the neighboring Cumberland County Courthouse was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Cumberland County officials opened the building up for firefighters to warm up and escape the frigid winds.
Bowen thanks the county officials, as well as the Department of Transportation and city public works department for handling the road closure and keeping the area from getting icy.
"We wouldn't have had as effective an operation without their help," Bowen said.
The place was a lynchpin of the area, both historically and economically, according to Flavia Alaya, of the Center for Historic American Building Arts. It was the restaurant that everybody went to.
"My real concern is how the community responds to this and enables a recommitment to the historic district and its key sites in Bridgeton," Alaya said.
Right next door to Hillcrest Tavern is Potter's Tavern, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was built in 1775. It was a meeting place during the Revolutionary War and was the place where the first state newspaper Cheap Cigarettes Near Me, the Plain Dealer, was published, according to the Cumberland County website.