Indian King Tavern News head
233 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ, 08033

Built Crucial Restoration Pieces

1999 Award Presentation
Award ceremony at the Indian King Tavern Museum. Left to right: docent Joan M. Walker, museum manager William Mason, award recipient Dennis E. Powell, and docent Marge Reed.

HADDONFIELD, N.J. (Oct. 23, 1999) -- Local contractor and cabinetmaker Dennis E. Powell has been given the Indian King Tavern Museum's 1999 "Volunteer of the Year" award.

In a ceremony here today, Powell was cited for his "tremendous contributions" to the volunteer craftsmen program that has filled the interior of the 249-year-old structure with the authentic furnishings and accouterments of a Colonial-era tavern.

Powell, who lives in Haddonfield and operates Crowfoot Asphalt, Inc., in Winslow Township, has long pursued woodworking as a hobby.

Cage bar
Powell inside the cage bar he built.

During the last four years, he has built 20 benches for the second floor Assembly Room, three oak trestle tables for the public dining room, a table for the "Keeping Room" where cooks prepared food, two walnut fireplace benches and the cage bar that was the most distinctive feature of a Colonial tavern.

'Jewel in the crown'

"Dennis' cage bar is the jewel in the crown of the restoration -- it is the part that ties everything else together and makes it a true representation of an 18th-century tavern," said museum manager William Mason.

Powell is one of more than a dozen craftsmen who have been working to complete the interior tavern restoration project by next year, when the Indian King celebrates its 250th anniversary.

"I've really enjoyed this," said the 58-year-old who attended the event with a pouch of hand tools slung over his shoulder. "I do it because I live here and my wife Betty grew up here, and our kids grew up here in town. This is a way I can give back to Haddonfield for all it has given me and my family over the years."
Booth tables
Powell made the oak tables in the public dining room; another cabinetmaker built the booth seats.

Operates own lumber mill

Although he notes that woodworking is only a hobby for him, Powell clearly takes the hobby seriously. He even operates his own small mill at which he manufactures the lumber he uses from locally harvested trees.

"In the case of the Indian King project, that helps add even more of a feel of authenticity," he explained. "The poplar and red oak and walnut I've used is the same type of local wood that would have originally been used to make furniture here two centuries ago."

The oak used to make the bottom section of the cage bar came from several century-old pews which were removed from Haddonfield's First Presbyterian Church as part of an alter renovation project. Even that wood has a special meaning for Powell.

"My wife and I were married in that church and it was a nice feeling to turn that pew oak into a new form for the tavern restoration," he said. "It's nice to think it's going to be there in the Indian King for a long time also."

'Our own piece of Williamsburg'

When he started the bar project two years ago, Powell went to Williamsburg to study the cage bars and furniture in the taverns there. "Aside from getting into the spirit of the project, that also made me understand that the Indian King is our direct local connection to the history Williamsburg celebrates. Haddonfield's central tavern was serving the same people during the same era, and today it's what gives the town its own little piece of Williamsburg. I'm incredibly proud to be a part of that."

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