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February 28, 2006

Contact: Karen Hershey (609) 984-1795
Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994

DEP Acquires Historic Office and Homestead of James Still in Medford

(06/10) TRENTON - Emphasizing the importance of preserving historic landmarks in the state, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced the acquisition of the former Medford office and homestead of medical practitioner James Still, the son of former slaves who was renowned for his botanical remedies. The 8-acre parcel was at risk of being demolished to make way for a commercial development.

"On this last day of Black History Month, I am proud to announce the acquisition of this historic landmark," said Commissioner Jackson. "James Still was a remarkable man who surmounted many challenges to become one of New Jersey's most respected doctors. All people benefited from his medicinal cures."

DEP's Green Acres program purchased the land and building from the Trollinger family for $875,000. The property was listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places in 1995.

Dr. James Still (1812-1882) was not a trained or licensed physician. At a time when most doctors relied on unproven medications, James Still was a distinguished herbalist--a seller of botanical remedies of his own devising, the superiority of which gained him a large clientele. Known as the "black doctor" of the pinelands, early New Jersey settlers came from miles around to be treated by Dr. Still. With only three months of traditional schooling, he was a self-taught doctor, using money he earned from working in a glue factory to buy books on medical botany.

Built in the 1850's, Dr. Still's office was a small unpretentious one-story frame building. The building was later remodeled and continued to serve as the office for his practice. Still's home and office are pictured in the 1876 Atlas of Burlington County. Although the office still stands, Still's Victorian house was demolished in 1932.

In addition to practicing medicine, Still was a highly accomplished writer. In 1877, he published his memoir entitled Early Recollections and Life of Dr. James Still. The book presents a first-person account of his childhood, medical practice and his personal insights. It is considered a classic piece of African American non-fiction literature.

Dr. Still's son, James Still, Jr., the third African American in the United States to graduate from Harvard Medical School, received his degree in 1871 with honors. Another son, Joseph Still, continued the legacy and although unlicensed, practiced medicine in Medford and later in Mount Holly.

DEP will work closely with historic preservation groups, Medford Township, the family and others to preserve the structure and develop a plan to make the site a first class historic destination.

DEP's Green Acres Program was created in 1961 to meet New Jersey's growing recreation and conservation needs. To date, Green Acres has protected more than 595,000 acres of open space and developed hundreds of public parks, bringing the statewide system of preserved open space and farmland to more than 1.3 million acres.




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Last Updated: February 28, 2006