History

A Pioneer in Special Education

Black and white photo of Margaret Bancroft, a light-skinned woman wearing a lacy dress and reading a book

Bancroft was one of the first private schools in the United States for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It all started in 1883 with one remarkable woman – a Philadelphia school teacher named Margaret Bancroft.

The Beginning of a Movement

Children with developmental disabilities in the 1800’s were not provided an education. At best, they were sent to large institutions and provided custodial care.

Margaret Bancroft recognized that such children had the ability to learn when given individualized attention, patience and love and decided to devote her life to this purpose.  Encouraged by some prominent professionals in the Philadelphia area, she rented a house in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and opened her own school beginning with just one pupil.

A black and white photo of a Bancroft teacher and student in the early 1900's. A small girl is reading a book, the female teacher is sitting across from her, pointing to a workboard with numbers.
1900s Classroom

Over the years, the organization successfully weathered many difficult times, including the Great Depression, World Wars, and its own financial challenges, which led to changes in the way services were provided and funded. The latter part of the 1900’s was a progressive time for people with developmental disabilities with a greater focus and respect for human rights, including the right to an education and the right to live and work in the community.  Bancroft was at the forefront of this movement by introducing a wide range of innovative and community-based programs to improve each person’s skills and level of independence.

Essential and Sustainable​

Bancroft has grown significantly in the last few decades to meet the needs of children and adults with diverse challenges and their families. Specialized programs were established for children with autism, as well as for those with severe problem behaviors associated with their disabilities. In addition, as a result of significant advances in health care and technology, Bancroft responded to the needs of people with acquired brain injuries and neurological conditions by establishing Bancroft NeuroRehab to provide rehabilitation services, including residential rehabilitation, structured day programs and outpatient services.

Today, Bancroft has grown and evolved into a multi-faceted organization advanced in its vision and rich in its legacy. The large non-profit helps people of all ages reach their full potential for happy and fulfilling lives through a wide array of programs throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Explore Bancroft's History

1883
Margaret Bancroft Establishes Haddonfield Training School
A black and white photo of Margaret Bancroft. She is light-skinned and wearing a white blouse.

Margaret Bancroft established her school at age 25, with just one student in a home on Centre Street in Haddonfield.

1892
The Lindens
The Lindens building, a large white Victorian styled house

Charles Lippincott of Haddonfield purchased "The Lindens," a beautiful home with a large piece of property on Kings Highway in Haddonfield, for Margaret Bancroft's school. Over the course of the next century, the school grew and flourished on this property until it was relocated to Mt. Laurel in 2018.

1898
Incorporation

The school was incorporated as "The Bancroft Training School" on April 21.

1904
Maine Property Acquired
Property in Maine with large trees, a big green yard, and houses surrounded by blue ocean water

In 1904, Margaret Bancroft acquired property on the coast of Maine to provide the students with a camp program to escape the summer heat.

1909
Jenzia Cooley Joins Bancroft

Jenzia Cooley came to Bancroft to work with Margaret Bancroft, on the advice of a family friend, Dr. Charles Mayo (Mayo Clinic). Her younger sister, Miriam, joined her two years later.

1912
New Leadership Following Margaret's Passing
a black and white photo of a man with glasses wearing a suit and tie

Margaret Bancroft passed away at the age of 58. Dr. Ernest Farrington, who had worked with Margaret since 1907 as head of the school's Psychology Department, succeeded her as President. Jenzia and Miriam Cooley were named Principal and Assistant Principal respectively.

1928
Bancroft Becomes a Nonprofit

The organization was rechartered as a nonprofit corporation, known as The Bancroft School, on May 22.

1937
Jenzia Cooley Emerges as a Leader
Jenzia Cooley, a light-skinned woman with short hair wearing a long dress smiles

Jenzia Cooley assumed responsibility for leading the organization after Dr. Farrington passed away. Jenzia died in 1963, with Miriam assuming the leadership role until she passed away. Learn more

1956
Original Lindens Building Burns

The original Lindens building burned to the ground during the summer, when everyone was in Maine.

1956
Lullworth Acquired
black and white photo of an old victorian home with a porch and cone roof sitting on a lawn with a large tree

The same year, Jenzia Cooley sold Lullworth to The Bancroft Training School, significantly expanding the size of the Haddonfield Campus.

1963
Cooley Hall Dedicated
brick Bancroft building with large windows with white panes

The new Cooley Hall school building was dedicated on Bancroft's 80th anniversary.

1968
Dr. Clarence York Becomes President
a black and white photo of a light-skinned man wearing a suit and tie, smiling

Dr. Clarence York had come to Bancroft in 1950 to work with the Cooley sisters. He was named Executive Director in 1957 and continued to lead the organization until 1983.

1968
School Districts Begin Placing Students at The Bancroft School

Area school districts began sending children to Bancroft for day school.

1973
Mullica Hill Property Purchased
Original Mullica Hill Campus with five dark red buildings with white details connected by a sidewalk

A group of Bancroft family members formed a corporation to purchase property in Mullica Hill, NJ, to develop a transitional program for young adults graduating from The Bancroft School. This property was later donated to Bancroft and is known today as the Lakeside Campus.

1976
CRC Memorial Complex Built

The Charlotte Russell Cooley (CRC) Memorial Complex was built on the Haddonfield Campus to provide a transitional residential setting for older adolescents, in memory of the Cooley sisters' mother.

1982
Community Group Home Established

Bancroft's first community-based group home for adults was established in Haddon Heights, NJ. It remains in operation today.

1983
New Leadership Appointed
George Niemann, a light-skinned male with short black hair wearing a blue suit with a red tie, smiles

Dr. York took a year sabbatical, and at the conclusion of his year away, Dr. George Niemann was appointed President. Dr. York continued to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees. He would later serve as Emeritus Trustee for the rest of his life.

1984
Specialized Autism Program Created

The first specialized residential program for children with autism was established on the Haddonfield Campus.

1986
Bancroft Opens New School for Children with Autism

A small school for children with autism was established in Haddon Heights, NJ.

1991
Early Intervention Program and Brain Injury Services Offered

An Early Intervention Program was established. This same year, Bancroft began to offer residential support for adults with acquired brain injuries at an apartment complex near Marlton, NJ.

1992
Business Partnerships Grow

Bancroft began to partner with local businesses to provide real work experience for those ready for the next step in vocational training.

1992
CARES Program Established

This same year, Bancroft launched the Center for Autism Research and Educational Services (CARES) program, a home-based program for children with autism and their families.

1994
Lindens Neurobehavioral Stabilization Program Begun
two people stand on the porch of a small yellow house with blue details sitting on a green lawn with yellow flowers

The Lindens Neurobehavioral Stabilization Program was established on the Haddonfield Campus to provide a safety net for those served in residential programs who needed periodic behavioral crisis intervention services.

1994
The Bancroft School at Voorhees Pediatric Facility Evolved

This same year, Bancroft began providing educational services to children living in long-term care, through The Bancroft School at Voorhees Pediatric Facility in Voorhees, NJ.

1996
Delaware Residential Programs Open

Bancroft expanded its residential programs for adults, opening two group homes in Wilmington, Delaware. The first home was, coincidentally, located on Bancroft Drive.

1998
Bancroft Expands to Louisiana

Bancroft expanded its programming to Lousiana for adults with acquired brain injuries through Bancroft Rehabilitation Living Centers, which operated programs in New Orleans and Covington, LA.

1998
Cherry Hill Outpatient Center Opens

The Lebensfeld Foundation provided funding to acquire a building on Kings Highway in Cherry Hill to provide outpatient services.

1998
Maine Campus Sold

The Owl's Head campus in Maine was sold, but community-based programs were continuing at this time.

1998
Name is Changed

Also in 1998, the Bancroft name was changed to Bancroft NeuroHealth in an attempt to clarify that the scope of services included more than just school.

1999
New Leadership Appointed

Dr. George Niemann was appointed Chief Executive, and Joseph Hess was appointed President.

1999
Brain Injury Day Treatment Center Opened
An old Bancroft campus building; a gray and red tiled building

Also in 1999, Brain Injury Day Treatment Services opened at the Lebensfeld building in Cherry Hill to offer outpatient therapies to people with brain injuries.

2000
Pediatric Neurology Center Opens

The Pediatric Neurology Center also opened at the Lebensfeld Center with plans to consolidate early intervention, CARES, and the Preschool there with the outpatient neurology practice.

2002
Judith B. Flicker Residences
A Bancroft campus with multiple gray buildings in a

The Judith B. Flicker Residences opened in Voorhees, NJ, to serve older adults with developmental disabilities who could no longer be supported safely in community group homes. The Flicker family worked with Bancroft to make this program possible. Dr. George Niemann stepped down from his position as Chief Executive, leaving Joseph Hess to lead the organization as President.

2003
Jacob Schaefer Center and Brick Campus Open

The Jacob Schaefer Center opened in Cherry Hill, named in honor of a benefactor who was a longtime family member and Board member. The center provides structured day programs for adults with autism and intellectual or developmental disabilities. A campus-based program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those with brain injuries also opened in Brick, NJ.

2004
Maine Presence Diminished

After 100 years in Maine, Bancroft transitioned its remaining community programs to another provider, closing a chapter in Bancroft's history.

2004
New Leadership Joined
Toni Pergolin, Bancroft's President and CEO, a light-skinned woman with curly blonde hair wearing a black and leopard print top

Also in 2004, Dr. Robert Martin assumed the role of President/Chief Executive, replacing Joseph Hess. Toni Pergolin joined the organization as Chief Financial Officer.

2006
Pediatric Neurology Practice Separated & Louisiana Programs Sold

The pediatric neurology practice separated from Bancroft, and the Lousiana programs were sold.

2006
New Leadership Appointed

Toni Pergolin was appointed President.

2007
Bancroft Acquires Plainsboro Brain Injury Program

Bancroft acquired a small residential and day program operated by HealthSouth in Plainsboro, NJ, to provide services to adults with brain injuries and neurological conditions.

2009
New Branding Announced
blue wall that reads "One world. For everyone." in white text

The new Bancroft brand: 'Bancroft - One World. For Everyone' was announced.

2009
Pennsylvania Program Acquired

Bancroft acquired a residential program in the Philadelphia area known as the Walker Center, to expand services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in that area.

2012
Lakeside Campus at Mullica Hill Reopens
balloon arch on a Bancroft campus

Bancroft celebrated the grand reopening of the Mullica Hill campus (today known as Lakeside) after a total renovation.

2014
Bancroft NeuroRehab Launches

Bancroft Brain Injury Services were rebranded as Bancroft NeuroRehab to better reflect the expansion of rehabilitation services and conditions treated. 

2014
Mt. Laurel Property Purchased

In the same year, Bancroft announced the purchase of 80 acres in Mt. Laurel, NJ, for a new, expanded campus for The Bancroft School and Children's Residential Program. This land would ultimately become the Raymond & Joanne Welsh Campus, replacing the original Haddonfield site where Bancroft had grown and thrived for over a century.

2015
Bancroft Headquarters Purchased
Bancroft headquarters; a brown two-story building with a large Bancroft logo

As the organization continues to expand, Bancroft established its headquarters at 1255 Caldwell Road in Cherry Hill. 

2015
Resnick Center Established

Thanks to a generous donation from the Resnick Foundation, the Resnick Center was established in Mt. Laurel to expand outpatient services.

2015
Benedictines Residential Programs Acquired

Bancroft expanded services in Delaware, through the acquisition of Benedictine's residential programs there.

2015
Haddonfield Campus Sold

Bancroft sold the Haddonfield Campus property.

2016
Marcroft Medical Associates Opens

Bancroft established an outpatient medical practice known as Marcroft in Voorhees, NJ. This practice was closed in 2021.

2018
Welsh Campus in Mt. Laurel Opens
overlook of Bancroft's Mt Laurel campus; a group of grey buildings with white roofs and details in a semi-circle around a parking lot and green lawn

Bancroft relocated its school, children's residential program and the Lindens program from Haddonfield to the new state-of-the-art Raymond & Joanne Welsh Campus in Mt. Laurel, NJ. A Grand Opening was held Dec. 18, 2017, and students began attending the new school on Jan. 3, 2018.

2019
Gloucester County Program Founded

Bancroft acquired part of Bellwether Behavioral Services in Gloucester County, NJ, which has become known as Bancroft's Gloucester Program, serving adults with developmental disabilities in community residential and day settings.

2021
Preschool & Early Education Program Expanded
White building with a green roof sitting in a parking lot with a few patches of grass with shrubs and trees in them

The Bancroft Preschool & Early Education Program moved to a new, larger facility in Moorestown, NJ, enabling Bancroft to reimagine the preschool and elementary program and classroom experience for students ages 3 to 11 with autism, intellectual & developmental disabilities.