In 1850 the market road which led from the village of Moorestown to the ferry across the Delaware River to Market Street, Philadelphia became the Moorestown & Camden Turnpike and was graveled and had two toll gate houses and stone mile markers. The stone mile markers remain today.
By 1860 a hamlet formed at the tollgate at Fellowship Road named "Stiles Corners." This was due to several Stiles family farms in the area as well as Benjamin Stiles Sr. living on the corner across from the toll gate house and having on his property a blacksmith shop.
After the Camden and Burlington County railroad opened its line from Camden to Mount Holly in 1867, they added 2 stations between the Moorestown and Merchantville stations. "Stiles Station" would be on land purchased from Nathan Perkins and Thomas Wilson in 1869 and "Wilson's Station" on land purchased from John Wilson in 1870. This was the beginning of Maple Shade and Lenola.
In 1874 the Pennsylvania Railroad renamed "Stiles station" to "Maple Shade station." Charles Shuster began the development of Maple Shade with the subdivision of the Benjamin J. Stiles farm in 1887. Then came the "Zane Tract" and the "Maple Shade Land and Improvement Company" land which ran along the north side of the railroad tracks. This tract had an artesian well.
Maple Shade in the late 1800s was a village of 21 scattered houses with the center being a block or so of houses and shops around the blacksmith shop now owned by Christian Frech. These were primarily German people related through Christian's wife Louisa Fahr Frech.
Trolley service began in 1901 down "Main Street" which further improved accessibility from Camden and ferries to Philadelphia. Real estate interest was gaining in living in New Jersey. The Edward Cutler Co. and Thomas Barlow of the Maple Heights Land Company took over most of the real estate dealings. In 1912 Barlow & Company was formed and many tracts of land were purchased for developments in Maple Shade and Lenola mostly for One Acre Farms.
In 1916 William Brown started the "Maple Shade Progress" newspaper which asked for progress in improvements to the town from Moorestown. This meant better roads, street lights and to be hooked up to the Moorestown water works. Moorestown with Lenola tried to separate in 1917 as "East Chester Township" but didn't get the votes needed. Lenola didn't have anything against Maple Shade but everyone wanted to be linked together with Moorestown to gain their improvements brought by their higher tax rateables.
In 1922 many houses would be built in Maple Shade. Barlow Built Bungalows were going to start being built in the 100s chiefly in the Maple Heights section of Maple Shade. Chester Township only had one governing Township committee and met at the Moorestown Town Hall. Soon voters if increased in Maple Shade could vote and get whatever they wanted perhaps or at least show reason for needing the improvements. Moorestown wasn't interested in this and separated with Lenola in 1922 as "Moorestown Township."
Maple Shade was now the last remaining portion of Chester Township and voted to change its name to Maple Shade Township in 1945.
Maple Shade had a water works in 1925. A Municipal Building housing the Police and Fire Departments was built in 1927 replacing outdated ones. Also, in 1927 a sewer system was put into operation.
After WW2 another wave of housing developments were built, this time ranchers instead of bungalows. Maple Shade was an early suburban township as many of the neighboring townships were still farmland until the coming of Split-Level homes.
In the late 60s and early 70s many apartment complexes were built. Due to Malls and department stores in the area, Main Street was on the decline as a shopping area, and an Urban Renewal project razed the old Roxy Theatre etc... A new Post Office was built on Main Street and then later on a new Municipal Building and Police Station were built on Stiles Avenue using in part the old Warick Fashions Coat factory.
What really “finished the Township off” was the building of its own High School in 1972. Sometime in the end of the 1800s the Chesterford School, a one room schoolhouse built in 1811, was renamed the "Maple Shade School." Four schools later a high school is what the town needed to be complete. I first lived in Moorestown and my parents knew people in the Maple Shade Jaycees due to the fact that they had in the late 1950s gone to school at Moorestown's high school.
Maple Shade adopted the Council Manager form of government in 1975.
The early industries of Maple Shade were the William Frech Wagon Works, the brickyards, lastly Graham Brick Co., and clothing manufacturing such as Brubakers and Warick Fashions.
Maple Shade, beginning in the 1930s, had many bars, and at the peak over 20 liquor licenses. Today it has many pizza-hoagies places.
-Dennis Lee Weaver