White Tower Coffee!

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  1. http://www.dvrbs.com/camden/CamdenNJ-WhiteTower-Marbetts.htm

    Transplant craves old diner



    The Harwan Theater is coming down, but the adjacent DiNic’s Roast Beef, a former White Tower restaurant, is moving on.

    To West Virginia.

    A self-described “dinerholic” who grew up in Collingswood is paying to have the.

    landmark little eatery picked up and trucked about 300 miles from the Black Horse Pike to his home in Morgantown, W.Va. The Mount Ephraim site is being cleared for construction of a Walgreens.

    “I always wanted a diner,” John Shoaf, a 64-year-old retired teacher and respected preservationist, said Thursday. “Most people pretty much think it’s crazy. My better half thinks I’m out of my mind.”

    A 1960 Collingswood High School graduate, Shoaf is hardly unique in his love of diners, which have inspired numerous scholarly and pop-culture books, as well as fan sites on the Web. The Mount Ephraim White Tower meets the definition of a diner despite its minuscule size because it’s a manufactured structure and was shipped to its site (in 1946 or thereabouts, Shoaf believes).

    Accommodating the removal rather than the demolition of a building “is a little unusual, in our experience, unless the building is historic,” said Jake Todd, senior project manager for the Bannett Group, the Cherry Hill firm constructing the Walgreens.

    “It could be the only one left in existence,” said Shoaf, adding the Mount Ephraim White Tower was one of 15 manufactured by the Arthur Valentine company of Wichita, Kan.

    Paul M. Hirshorn, who co-authored White Tower — the definitive (and only) book on the subject — said the Valentine buildings were designed to the specifications of White Tower’s in-house architect, Charles Johnson.

    With its gleaming porcelain exterior, big windows and brightly lit tower, Johnson’s iconic design “was able to communicate its message . . . in a sophisticated and successful way” to passing motorists, said Hirshorn.

    Nostalgia is clearly a part of the affection for these buildings, said John S. Flack, a Marlton resident who maintains a Web site devoted to the defunct Burger Chef chain.

    “People like to go back to their childhoods,” he observed.

    Indeed, as Shoaf shared via e-mail, “when I was younger, my parents told me I could go anywhere for my birthday, and I always (went to) White Tower (on) Admiral Wilson Boulevard . . . for a sack of hamburgers.” So Shoaf is willing to spend his hard-earned money — Shoaf won’t say how much — to bring the one-time home of that taste to West Virginia.

    He’ll place the old White Tower on land he owns overlooking I-79.

    And someday, Shoaf said, he’d like to fire up that grill again.

    from JOHN

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