The domino effect of the proposed merger between Rowan University and Rutgers University-Camden has hit home.
With its search for a new president on hold amid the merger talks, Rowan is selling the Woodbury mansion that housed its leader for more than a decade.
The stately home on Cooper Street—across from the defunct Woodbury Country Club—went on the market last week, and is listed with Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors.
The asking price is $799,900, about $115,000 more than Rowan paid when it bought the home in December 2000 for Donald Farish, who had become the university’s president two years earlier.
The Colonial-style mansion has been vacant since June 2011, when Farish moved out after leaving the university to take a job as president of Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, amid what some observers said were political squabbles between Farish and Rowan’s Board of Trustees.
Rowan put its search for Farish’s replacement on hold in March, saying it wanted to wait until there is “clarity” about the proposed merger, the Courier-Post reported.
“The idea was that we would hold on to the house to see how the presidential search went,” Rowan spokesman Joe Cardona said in an interview this week. “But being that the presidential search was abandoned, we’re going forward with the sale.”
The five-bedroom mansion has a rich history. Frank Stewart, who made his fortune selling electrical supplies in Philadelphia, built the home, which was known as “Rugby Pines.” Property tax records indicate the house was built in 1908, but other sources list the year as 1914.
Stewart was an avid historian and outdoorsman, as well as the author of several books about South Jersey history. (A nearby lake in Woobury is named in his honor.) When he died in 1948, his large collection of artifacts was willed to Rowan (then known as New Jersey State Teachers College at Glassboro), where it remains on display.
The three-story mansion has three fireplaces, a game room, a three-car garage and an in-ground pool.
For the first six years it owned the house, Rowan paid full property taxes to the city, even though, as a tax-exempt institution, it was not required to do so. In 2007, the university reached a 10-year agreement with the city to pay $15,000 in annual taxes that year, with a 3 percent increase in each subsequent year.
Traditionally, Rowan’s president lived at Hollybush Mansion on the Glassboro campus. But when Farish became president, the aging building was in need of major repairs. Rowan couldn’t find a suitable home for Farish in Glassboro, so it bought the mansion in Woodbury.
Hollybush has been converted into a museum and conference center, and it will no longer be used as a residence, Cardona said.
The university’s interim president, Ali Houshmand, owns a home in Glassboro.
Proceeds from the sale of the Woodbury mansion will likely be used toward construction of a new home in Glassboro for the college’s next president, Cardona said.