#TBT - Heathrow at Marlton - 12/13/2018

A couple of weeks ago, while I was researching the lost neighborhood of South Crossing, a question came up about the neighborhood of Heathrow.  While I have lived in Marlton since 2003, I had never heard of Heathrow.  I was quite surprised when I learned that I actually drive through Heathrow every single day!

Unlike South Crossing or New World, this is NOT the tale of a lost neighborhood.  I think the people who live in Heathrow probably know they live in Heathrow.  But there are no signs up indicating the neighborhood, so its possible most of the rest of us do not.

Heathrow Airport sign, London, England

'Heathrow at Marlton' was originally planned to be a neighborhood of 223 homes that were to be built between 1977 and 1979, with the possibility of that number growing 500 within 5 years.  Construction of the first section began in early 1977, with sample models available for viewing beginning on June 4, 1977.  The developer, Marlboro Homes, was headed up by John Pasquariello, a former Mayor of Evesham.  The homes were designed to be energy efficient, touting new building techniques, which were frequently highlighted in their advertisements:
  • 6 inches of insulation in sidewalls instead of the usual 3
  • 6 cold air returns instead of the usual 2
  • 12 inches of insulation in the ceiling
  • Theropane windows and metal insulated doors
For its efforts, Marlboro Homes received the Owens Corning Energy Efficient Homes Plus Award.

The first section of homes went on sale in 1977, priced between $42,800 and $47,100.  If you purchased during the introductory period, free air-conditioning was included.  There were three models - a three bedroom, two bathroom ranch, a 4 bedroom, 2 bath Cape Cod, and a two-story 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath colonial.  Where was this first section of homes?  Turns out a map was included in early advertisements showing the 112 building lots that were part of the first section.

Map of Heathrow, 4/15/1977

The neighborhood of Heathrow was built right up against other neighborhoods, which all seem to be generally referred to as Cambridge Park today.  The houses that abut this neighborhood on Greenbrook and Heather Drive (the small road on the top left) were built several years prior.

By 1979, the 112 homes had been built, but the roads in the neighborhood were still not paved properly and the streetlights were not functioning*.  Residents began attending Town Council meetings, imploring the town to help them.  According to the township, the developer had not built the roads up to code, so the town would not take possession of them until they were rebuilt and repaved.   The township ended up suing the developer over 6 roads.  While the roads are not named in the newspaper articles from the era, they presumably include Lincoln, Lancaster, Longhurst, Lloyd and Lee.  I think the 6th must be the section of Greenbrook included in Heathrow.  (I just noticed the first 5 all begin with L.  How unique!)

The township also filed suit against Marlboro Homes in 1979 to prevent it from building the next section of the neighborhood.  The remaining 400 homes envisioned in Heathrow were never built.

By 1981, the first lawsuit was still pending and the roads were still unfinished.  Going against advice from their own attorney, the township took out a bond for $1,045,000 to pave the roads.  The attorney had advised against it, fearing that paving the roads would affect the ability of the town to win a judgement against the developer for the costs.  The suit was settled several years later for a portion of the funds.  (It should be noted that the lawsuit involved several other builders and other sections of Cambridge Park, not just Heathrow.)  The township ended up spending $575,000 for the roads and sidewalks in Heathrow.

Today, the name Heathrow lives on - the school district and realtors still show Heathrow as a distinct neighborhood.  And the park contained in the neighborhood is still named Heathrow Park.

Evesham Township School District Attendance Zones

I am sure there must be some original buyers still in their homes.  Did I miss anything in telling this history?

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*There are 112 plots on the map for Heathrow.  Articles regarding the lawsuit state that there were 110 homes in the neighborhood.  I'm not sure whether the newspaper articles are rounding or if there were 2 homes built later.

Heathrow today (approximately)

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