438 Arch Street
Southwest Corner of North 4th and Arch Street

John A. Oetzel was born in Philadelphia in 1857, the son of parents who had come from Eiosenach, Germany. Eisenach lay in what was the Duchy of Hesse. Eisenach now lies the the Germany's State of Thuringia. He had come to Camden from Philadelphia with his wife Margaret  around 1885. A cabinetmaker by trade, he is listed in Camden City Directories in 1886 and 1887-1888 as living at 120 Danenhower Street. The 1889-1890 Camden City Directory shows him as the proprietor of a lager beer saloon at 438 Arch Street. This was a very good location, as it was the near the tip of the triangle formed by the merger of Federal Street and Arch Street, and across the street from the Camden Fire Department headquarters. Family legend has it that the poet Walt Whitman was a regular customer.

John Oetzel and his family resided over the bar through 1922. They also rented rooms out about the tavern and that is his daughter Ella, born in 1880, met her husband, Charles F. Winner. A float man on a tugboat on the Delaware River, he would to rent a rooms overnight on trips. His youngest child, John A. Jr., was born in 1903. Margaret Oetzel passed away in 1916 at the age of 59. 

The 1922 Camden City Directory shows the bar, with John A. Oetzel Sr. as the proprietor and John A. Oetzel Jr. working there as a bartender. The bar does not appear in City Directories after that year, and an aerial photo taken at some point before July of 1926 shows an empty lot where Oetzel's Saloon had stood for over 30 years.

John A Oetzel Sr. moved to 438 North 8th Street in North Camden. He passed away on February 12, 1941. His son had passed away earlier. 


about 1910

Click on Image to Enlarge

Downtown Camden - 1928
500 Block of Market Street,
Unit Block of North 5th Street,
400 Block of Arch Street, 400 Block of Federal Street

A little more than halfway down the picture and Directly below the "Number 4" that is on the Stanley Theater at Broadway & Market Street, cam be seen the intersection of 5th and Arch Streets. The vacant lot on the lower left corner of the intersection was where Oetzel's Saloon had stood u until a few years before this photo was taken. The old firehouse can be seen on the other side of Arch Street, as can the Central Trust Bank building at the corner of 4th and Federal, at the bottom of the picture.

Of all the buildings that lay between Market and Federal Streets, and between 4th and Broadway when this photo was taken, only the Central Trust uilding and Cooperson's Auto Body (not visible in this picture, are still standing in 2004. Only a few buildings visible on the north side of Market Street and the Public Service building now used by the Camden Free Public Library remain in use today. 

North 2nd & Main Streets - 1925
Danenhower Street is visible. It runs between 2nd and Front Streets, South of Main.
It begins between the two light colored buildings visible on the far side of 2nd Street.
Most of the homes on that block of North Second and on Danenhower Streets are still standing in 2004.

Thanks to Sharon Berenato for helping out with this page