Hammonton was never the sort of place that attracted outsiders. Tucked away in the far western corner of Atlantic County and surrounded by blueberry farms and pine forests, the town of about 12,000 residents has been largely overlooked by house hunters. But in recent years, Hammonton's small town feel, rejuvenated downtown and convenient location halfway between the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia, has been luring more and more people from the outside world.
Take Richard and Betty Donley. Richard grew up in Cherry Hill and Betty is originally from western Pennsylvania. They were living in a town house in Absecon when they went looking for a new house 13 years ago. Their two-year search ended in Hammonton, the self proclaimed "Blueberry Capital of the World."
"We wanted a place with some land – but not too much land – in a quiet, suburban area," Betty recalls. "At the time, my mother was living in Collings Lakes and my husband's mother was in Marlton. They were both in their 80s and we wanted to be closer to them."
The Donleys built their dream house in 2002 in a new 35-lot subdivision called Woodbridge that was being developed by builder Tim Schaeffer. The house they built on Birch Drive, on the southern part of town, was less than a mile from Hammonton's bustling downtown district. It was even closer to the train station, from which Richard could commute to and from his job at Caesars in Atlantic City. Betty didn't mind the half-hour drive to Linwood, where she worked at a law firm.
The two-story house has 3 bedrooms and 2 ½ baths. The house is immaculate, which may be due in part to the fact that the Donleys don't have children. It's entered from a covered front porch and features an open floor plan with a two-story foyer and a living room with a vaulted ceiling. A half wall and two columns separate the living room from the formal dining room.
An eat-in kitchen with a breakfast bar and lots of cabinet space has sliding glass doors to the back yard and is open to a family room, where a gas fireplace occupies a corner. A bayed window above the kitchen sink overlooks the beautifully landscaped yard which backs up to a thick patch of woods.
"It's a 15-foot wide-strip of woods so it's unbuildable, which is really nice," Betty says.
The second floor has three bedrooms with Casablanca ceiling fans, two full baths and a laundry nook. The master suite has a walk-in closet and a private bath with a whirlpool tub and a tiled shower chamber.
Wall-to-wall carpets cover every room but the kitchen, bathrooms and entry foyer. A large unfinished basement comprises the entire footprint of the house.
Outside, a double wide concrete driveway leads to a two-car garage.
Richard and Betty have never regretted their decision to move to Hammonton.
"We love it," Betty says. "It's very quiet, the neighbors are great and everybody keeps their homes and yards nice. We have a lot of business owners and professionals in the neighborhood. We're also close to downtown, where they have great shops and restaurants. You can park your car and walk and you don't have to be fearful of walking down the main street."
When the Donleys sell the house they plan to retire and move to North Carolina.
"We're going to build a house in a little town called Denver in the Lake Norman area," Betty says. "It's very rural."
For more information on this property, which is listed for $340,000, call Greg Shenker of Balsley Losco Real Estate. 609-872-6641, or direct at 609-214-2773.
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