Mount Holly is one of the oldest settlements in South Jersey. It found its beginning around 1677 when a gentleman by the name of Walter Reeves settled along the Rancocas. The geography of Mount Holly contributed to its growth through the almost three hundred years since its first settlement. The early town was located in the bottom of a valley on a winding creek which provided power for the early industries. An adjacent hill or mound gave the town a unique position along with its surrounding flat plains that were fine agricultural lands prior to suburbanization.
The commerce of Mount Holly grew from a center to which early settlers brought their produce, grain, lumber, and wool to be turned into items which were useful on their homesteads or were sold or traded for goods they were unable to produce. In time an important economy developed; farm goods were delivered for local resale and export; and manufactured items were imported for resale in local commercial houses. Among the early enterprises were the 1723 "Three Tuns Tavern," a tailor shop belonging to John Woolman, Quaker minister, a store belonging to Stephen Girard, Philadelphia financier. The Farmer's Bank organized in 1814 and is the second oldest bank in New Jersey. Two early newspapers of the community were the "Mount Holly Mirror," established in 1818, and the "Mount Holly Herald," in 1826.
Industry began with the 1720 sawmill, a grist mill in 1723, and an iron works and a fulling mill in 1730. Later industries were a paper mill, plush mill, tapestry will, dye mill, thread mill, carriage factory, and a turbine foundry. Mount Holly supplies some of the labor for the H.B. Smith Machine Company at Smithville, via the Bicycle Railway which ran from Mount Holly to Smithville.
Transportation facilities had a definite influence on the growth of Mount Holly. The town, situated on the Rancocas Creek (North Branch), offered the advantage of an open waterway to the Delaware River. This made possible the exchange of commodities with the port of Philadelphia. In 1759 a stage wagon ran from Cooper's Ferry (Camden) to Mount Holly and on across the state to Middletown. The early roads began as bridle paths traveled by settlers on their way to Philadelphia, Burlington, Springfield, and the iron works, and later became streets in the growing town. By 1833 passengers could travel by stage to Burlington and board a boat for Philadelphia or a train to South Amboy. In 1849 train service was possible between Burlington and Mount Holly and in 1867 regular train service was established between Camden and Mount Holly. It is reported that in the busy season more than fifty trains a day stopped at the Mount Holly station.
In 1847, the Burlington County Agricultural Society started the Mount Holly Fair. In 1856, the fairgrounds were built on Route 541 at Woodpecker Lane, what is now the Fairgrounds Plaza in Mount Holly. It featured a grandstand, exhibition buildings and a half-mile racetrack. It was considered the premier fairgrounds on the East Coast, attracting thousands of visitors each year. In 1870, a two-tier grandstand -- the largest in the eastern United States at the time -- was erected and the fair became a popular destination for thousands. It was even visited by presidents and vice presidents, according to the booklet. The fair was discontinued in 1926. It eventually found a new home on the Village Green in Lumberton. It would remain in Lumberton for 53 years, until moving to the then newly created Burlington County Fairgrounds in 2011.
On September 13, 1892, the Mount Holly and Smithville Bicycle Railroad opened. It was developed by Arthur E. Hotchkiss. In 1892, Arthur Hotchkiss received a patent for a bicycle railroad and contracted with the H. B. Smith Machine Company to manufacture it. The purpose of the railway was to transport Smith Company employees from Mount Holly, via bicycles specifically designed to glide, similar to a monorail, to Smithville . The initial track ran 1.8 miles from Smithville, in a nearly straight line, crossing the Rancocas Creek 10 times, and arrived at Pine Street, Mount Holly. It was completed in time for the Mount Holly Fair in September, 1892, and the purpose of the railway was supposed to have been enabling employees to commute quickly from Mount Holly to the factory at Smithville. Monthly commuter tickets cost $2.00 (equivalent to $57 today). The record speed on the railway was 4.5 minutes , and the average trip took 6–7 minutes. The railway was exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. It only had one track so that it was impossible to pass another rider, and if riders travelling in opposite directions met, one had to pull off onto a siding. By 1897 ridership had declined, and the railway fell into disrepair.
The Burlington & Mount Holly Railroad and Transportation Company, was incorporated in 1836. The railroad ran 7.2 track miles from Burlington, New Jersey to Mount Holly Township, New Jersey. July 4, 1863 Burlington & Mount Holly Railroad & Transportation Company renamed Burlington County Railroad Company.
In 1895, the Pennsylvania Railroad used the Burlington & Mount Holly tracks to experiment with 500 volt DC trolley wire; trolley pole electric operation, with two motor passenger cars built by Jackson and Sharp Company at Wilmington, Del.
This service was discontinued on October 29, 1901, after the electrical powerhouse in Mount Holly burned.
In April 1902, PRR orders demolition of Mount Holly power house and ends experiment of electric trolley operation between Burlington and Mount Holly.
This line was the first electrified PRR branch in New Jersey. The Burlington & Mount Holly line was abandoned by the PRR in 1927.
County Route 541 in Burlington County is on and or follows the Burlington & Mount Holly Railroad and Transportation Company's right of way.
Speaking of rails in Mount Holly, I recently had an opportunity to check out the Mount Holly Rail Trail which is located in Creek Island Park.
Trailheads at Madison Ave. This hike isn’t very long, about 1/2 mile. There is plenty of interesting stuff to see at this trailhead.
After a nice hike on the rail trail, I decided to check out the sights of Mount Holly.
"The North Branch Rancocas Creek is a 31-mile-long tributary of Rancocas Creek in southwestern New Jersey. The creek starts in the Pine Barrens of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest and Fort Dix Military Reservation, near Browns Mills. From its confluence with Rancocas Creek, tidewater extends upstream to the upper end of Mount Holly. The North Branch Rancocas Creek drains an area of 167 square miles. The creek is among the more developed portions of the Rancocas Creek watershed."- wikipedia
The Frederick Schrayshuen Mansion
C 1870 ....10 Bispham Street
Two story central block with one wing, 4/4 windows, floor depth, with Gothic arch; high stone foundation; two story porch, six bay, with cast iron balusters, fancy pierced; plain ashlar simulated walls over brick; inside end and interior chimneys; hip roof on wing and gable roof on central block; scrolled bracket cornices; irregular Z-shaped floor plan.
The Shinn Curtis Log House lies in the heart of an historic section of Mount Holly. The early settler's home of hand-hewn logs originally built in 1712 was encased in a house and was uncovered in 1967 when the surrounding house was demolished. It was in the possession of the Curtis family for 147 years, since 1802, and is now owned by the Mount Holly Historical Society. The building was relocated from what had been Water Street and renamed Rancocas Road.
The inside of this post office is vintage. The foyer looks like a turn of the century train ticket office complete with old wood, trimmed to the hilt, glass windows, stained dark.
The police department faces a side alley, to the rear of the municipal center. There were a bunch of cruisers parked back there. The original structure was built in 1930, and is an amazingly interesting and architecturally relevant structure which is why it is a contributing structure to the historic district.
The green building to the right of The Shoe String is the Daniel Smith House, Navigator Circa 1790.
The Mount Holly Preservation Society, commissioned a replica town clock. It was placed where the original once stood.
This Friends Meeting House was built in 1775, and so was here at the time of the Battle of Iron Works Hill on December 23, 1776.
"The British army occupied Philadelphia from September 26, 1777 until June 18, 1778. Philadelphia had been serving as the American capital, and the British occupation forced Congress to move to York, Pennsylvania, which had a demoralizing effect on the Americans.
During that same winter of 1777, General George Washington and his Continental (American) army were camped about twenty miles away from Philadelphia in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Valley Forge provided a good strategic location for the army's winter quarters; It was close enough to keep an eye on the British troops in Philadelphia, but in a strong defensive position should the British decide to attack.
In early June 1778, the British forces in Philadelphia decided to abandon Philadelphia and march towards New York City, the main British stronghold in America. British forces under General Henry Clinton began their trip on June 18, 1777, when they crossed over the Delaware River into New Jersey, landing at Coopers Ferry (now Camden). Over the following days, they marched through Haddonfield, Cherry Hill, Mount Laurel, and Moorestown. On June 20 they arrived at Mount Holly where they remained until the morning of June 22. While here, their commissary department used the Friends Meeting House.
During this time, General Washington and his Continental Army were also on the move. After hearing of the British evacuation of Philadelphia, Washington made the decision to leave Valley Forge. On June 20, they crossed into New Jersey at Coryell's Ferry and marched in pursuit of the British troops, keeping a path miles to the north of them.
From Mount Holly, the British troops moved on through Bordentown and Crosswicks. On June 28, they would meet the Continental Army at Monmouth Courthouse, and fight the Battle of Monmouth, the longest continuous battle of the war." -revolutionarywarnewjersey
This Elks Home lodge is in a Victorian-era home built in 1856.
This old court House was built in 1796 and modeled after Congress Hall in Philadelphia. It was used full-time until 1959 when a new County office building was opened which included court facilities. The courthouse continues to handle judicial proceedings.
This is one of the smallest government buildings you might ever find. The building is a single room structure painted to resemble the historic 18th century courthouse to the left of it. From the Nomination Form: 15. SURROGATE'S OFFICE AND COLLECTOR'S OFFICE ....1807 ....High Street Two identical one story rectangular offices constructed of Flemish bond brick with moulded brick water tables over brick foundations; one bay entrance porch on each; keystones over 9/9 windows, flanked by paneled shutters; gable roof over box cornices with carved and shaped dentils with moulded architrave frieze same as court house; full length return under gable at sides of buildings from front to back
The Burlington County Prison Museum is a National Historic Landmark located in historic Mount Holly. Designed by Robert Mills, one of America 's first native-born and trained architects, the Burlington County Prison was completed in 1811. One of Robert Mills' first designs as an independent architect, the interior vaulted ceilings of poured concrete and brick and stone construction made the building virtually fireproof. In fact, it was so well constructed that it remained in constant use until 1965.
The Brainerd Schoolhouse is a one room schoolhouse, located in Mount Holly Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. Built in 1759, it is the oldest building of its type in the state and now a museum. It is a contributing property to the Mount Holly Historic District. It is owned and operated by The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America
Located at the intersection of Mill & Pine Streets, the Mill Street Tavern (also known as) is the oldest standing building in town. It has been a tavern & hotel since it opened in 1723. Rumours state it is haunted. Built in 1723 by Samuel Bryant. It has been used as a tavern for the past 250 years. There is some Revolutionary War history connected with this site as well as the Court of Admiralty met here during the last year of the Revolutionary War. The Mill Street Tavern was built about forty years after the first settlers arrived in Mount Holly. There appeared to be a need for a place to rest and libation, so the Three Tuns Tavern was built near the mill in Mount Holly, at that time called Bridgetown because of all the bridges over the various feeders to the Rancocas Creek. Samuel Brian Was the first owner and innkeeper, and few changes have been made to the building since his time. it is of course the oldest Inn in Mt. Holly and was grabbed as quarters by the Hessian soldiers during their occupation here in 1776, the DAR reports. The Mill Street Tavern was built about forty years after the first settlers arrived in Mount Holly. There appeared to be a need for a place to rest and libation, so the Three Tuns Tavern was built near the mill in Mount Holly, at that time called Bridgetown because of all the bridges over the various feeders to the Rancocas Creek. Samuel Brian Was the first owner and innkeeper, and few changes have been made to the building since his time. it is of course the oldest Inn in Mt. Holly and was grabbed as quarters by the Hessian soldiers during their occupation here in 1776, the DAR reports.
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Forgotten Towns Of Southern New Jersey
More Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey
Burlington and Mount Holly Railroad and Transportation Company
Dutch traders first settled in Passaic in 1678 with the founding of a fur-trading post. After the river was dammed, industrial growth blossomed. Some of the most successful mills of New Jersey were built in Passaic. Many of them were German worsted mills. The town used to be full of European immigrants, which had come to fill the factories. In the 1970's came deindustrialization, which was pretty much the downfall of many American cities. Passaic would prove no better. The industrial section of the city of Passaic known as the lower Dundee, the east side neighborhood that runs along the bank of the Passaic, is filled with ruins of the cities legacy as an industrial powerhouse. I made my way down to the area to walk the streets where 15,000 woolen mill workers fought for the rights of workers in the Passaic textile Strike of 1926.
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At the intersection of Mount Holly-Juliustown and Pemberton-Arney's Mount Roads in Burlington County is a historic Quaker meeting house, which dates back to 1775, and has been remarkably preserved in the same appearance it had in 1811, despite succumbing to fire twice in its history.
Arneys Mount is an community located within Springfield Township in Burlington County. Its also the name of a hill located next to it.
The building is constructed of iron-stone quarried locally on Arney's Mount.
Engraved in the bricks is the name Samuel Smith, which is the person who built the structure.
The building is still without electricity or plumbing, and a wood stove serves as the only heat source.
Next to the Meeting House is the burial grounds, which are still in use and pre-dates the Meeting House by many years and includes early settlers in the area. The oldest graves are not marked.
In 1870, a wall was erected around the graveyard in sandstone. It encloses only a portion of the grave as some were buried "outside the wall" having lost favor with Meeting or were buried elsewhere on the grounds in unmarked sites before the walls were constructed.
Since 1941, meeting for worship usually has been held twice monthly.
Located in Somerset County of New Jersey is the small rural community of East Millstone. Located along the Delaware and Raritan Canal, the town grew and prospered during the 19th Century. It was originally called Johnsville, but that was later changed to East Millstone. The original manufacturer of famous Fleishman's Yeast was located here.
Built in 1752 by Cornelius Van Liew is the Franklin Inn, also known as the Van Liew Tavern is the oldest structure in East Millstone. It is located on Amwell Road, close to the canal. and was an important stopover for canal workers, boatmen and other travelers who utilized the canal system. It was recently operated as a used book store. Despite flooding due to Hurricanes Floyd in 1999 and Irene in 2011, the building still stands in excellent condition.
The Millstone Township First Aid Squad has been around since 1954.
Sitting beside the Delaware and Raritan Canal since 1834 is the East Millstone Bridge Tender's House which housed workers who opened the swing bridge of the canal. It was renovated and repainted in 2010.
The Millstone and New Brunswick Railroad once ran through town but the tracks have since been removed. The coming of the railroads was the reason the town changed its name.
The Wilson House (pictured above) is an example of High Victorian Eclecticism.
The house was built by Nathanial Wilson, a local entrepreneur who operated a hardware store across Market Street from the canal basin.
There's five churches in this little town, a big surprise when you take into account the town is comprised of just six or seven short streets of houses.
Cedar Hill Cemetery is a small cemetery located off of Wortman Street.
At the far western side of New Jersey is the small community of Brainards, which was once known as Martin's Creek. Martin's Creek takes its name from the stream that empties out just across the Delaware on the Pennsylvania side, that area is also known as Martin's Creek. In New Jersey the railway station was also called Martin's Creek. Martin's Creek was the junction point of the Pennsylvania railroad.
The name Brainards is taken from David and John Brainerd, who had their cabin across the river. The Brainerds were a missionary to the Lene lenape that occupied the area in the 1790s. The area has since changed to Brainards instead of Brainerds. Named after missionaries, one would expect to at least find one church in town, this is not the case in Brainards.
“David Brainerd was born at Haddam, Connecticut, in 1718. He was educated at Yale, licensed to preach in 1742, and was appointed missionary to the Indians within the Forks of the Delaware by the "Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge." He began his mis- sionary labors among the Indians in the Forks of the Delaware early in the summer of 1744. On the 13th of May, 1744, he came to Sakhauwotung (Martin's Creek) within the forks, and was respectfully re- ceived by the Indian king, who permitted him to preach most of the summer at his house.”
Warren County, at one time, had large cement mills in active operation which helped in growing the towns up around them. The mills of the Alpha Cement Company helped to make the small town of Brainards grow by building company housing to attract the many Slavic immigrants arriving to become workers. The workers would then walk to work on the railroad bridge which crossed the Delaware River to Martin's Creek. Before this time the area had been mostly vacant and nothing which resembled a town or village.
Broad Street is Brainard's main thoroughfare. It is lined with former company housing. Alpha would rent the homes to the workers for 9 dollars a month. For single men there were the boarding houses which were run by widows of factory workers who had died. By the time the 1960s rolled around, the cement companies decided operating elsewhere would be more cost effective. They sold the company housing to those who wished to stay for $900 a home or $1200 for a home with plumbing. Company housing is usually recognized when viewing the landscape as a whole in the little variation from house to house and simple architectural styling. I noticed this when i first visited Brainards, before i knew it had been a company town. Some of the Alpha company’s houses are on property formerly a part of the lot of George Depue who lived in a stone house one-eighth of a mile south of the station from 1850 until his death in 1897.
The Bangor & Portland Railway delivered slate from quarries in northern Northampton County, Pennsylvania, to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad junction at Portland. In 1885, a branch line was built to connect with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Brainards, New Jersey which at that time was called Martin's creek as well. The name was eventually changed to distinguish it from the Martin's Creek located across the water.
The town also would have its dark times....
On April 29, 1911, disaster struck the the area of Martins Creek when a Utica teacher's excursion train carrying 169 Up-State school teachers and friends were on the way to Washington, New Jersey. The train was hurled down a forty-foot embankment at Martin's Creek, where it crashed and caught fire killing 12 people and injuring 101 others
On March 26, 1942 an explosion at the Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Easton took 31 lives, many had been residents of Brainards. The cement company gave deceased workers' widows only $11 per month for about six years as compensation for the loss of their husbands.
In 1945, it was the scene of a shooting after a fugitive escaped custody after being apprehended for the brutal slaying of his wife. Ernest Rittenhouse, 30, war plant worker had been a resident of the area and escaped back to his hometown to hideout after he murdered his wife with an ax and disappeared. The officers caught up to him and he somehow managed to wrestle the gun from the officers and shoot them both dead and jumped into the Martin's Creek to escape.
Now that the industry of the area is gone the town of Brainards is awaiting its next step, which is the development of its vacant parcels that line the Delaware River to spark life back into the once prosperous area.
Along the Pequest River and U.S. Route 46 in White Township within Warren County, New Jersey is Buttzville which is frequently listed on lists of odd and unusual place names.
Buttzville was not known as Buttzville until 1839, when Micheal Robert Buttz purchased the land from a miller who had used the property for a gristmill in its past. He soon opened a hotel and his descendants lived and worked in the town. Michael Robert Buttz named this little settlement Buttzville and that is still the name today.
Before Michael Buttz had come to Buttzville, he had a teaching gig near his former residence along the Delaware River before buying property in New Market and opening a saw mill, hotel and apple and rye distillery. He was also a justice of the peace and in the army. He sold it all in 1831 to George and John Troxall. He then took his chances in Politics and was elected on the Democratic ticket but finally gave up due to financial reasons. He next took his chances in Easton but again grew restless and made his final move to the Pequest River where he opened a grist mill, plaster mill and a general store.
By 1854, he sold the mill property to Elisha Kirkhuff. It, then, later passed hands to Linaberry and Anderson and then to Thomas Craig.
Buttzville United Methodist Church in Belvidere just commemorated 175 Years last year
He would die there at the age of 72 and was buried in the M.E. cemetery.
Thomas A. Edison once had a manufacturing plant and quarry in the area. Edison would often stop at Craig's Store in Buttzville. He and Tom Craig(also owned a store in addition the mill) became good friends. The original homes which were built in the last century are located off a street called Mill Street.
No members of the Buttz family live here today, although the name remains and many people still pass through and remark on the odd naming of the town.
One of northwestern New Jersey's oldest communities, is Johnsonburg once known as "Log Gaol" , which means log jail due to it being the location of jail which was erected in 1753. It was once the seat of newly formed Sussex County in the 1750s before joining Warren County. The log jail was the first county building erected for Sussex.County. The town was renamed Johnsonburg after a store owner who had been of the Johnson family.
I found myself driving out to Warren County in New Jersey once again to see the small town which still retains its original general stores, mill and hotel. At one time in the 19th century, it was a place of importance, a place where horse-drawn carriages moved up and down the streets and the tavern became was an important meeting place where court meetings and elections would be held.
Originally a stagecoach stop in which an east-west route carried mail from Dover, New Jersey to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and a north-south route which carried mail from Albany, New York to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the routes crossed through here and the town grew.
But the 19th century saw a new era, the age of canals and trains, which didn't make its way through Johnsonburg. The result was a town which grew little and remained stuck in the past. Many of the buildings were built in the 1800’s.
Upon entering the town I am greeted by the Hardin's Store, which dates to 1871 when is was built by Samuel Hardin, who had ownership of the mill at the time.
The wheelwright shop still stands on Allamuchy Road.
At the end of the road is the Johnsonburg Hotel with a store on its left. I had a nice talk with the man who currently owns the hotel and hes been in the process of renovating it for quite some time.
Next to the hotel is the Old Stone Episcopal Church.
Drake & Mackey store is pictured below, which was built in 1860.
Frelinghuysen Township Hall which is housed in the former Presbyterian Chapel.
On the western edge of town is an old barn.
Below is the Armstrong-Blair house. The home first was owned by William Armstrong and then was was acquired in the 1840s by James Blair. William Armstrong was a principal landowner at the time in the area and had control over the gristmill, tavern and a store. Blair is responsible for the Greek Revival remodeling of the home. The wagon house of the property sits on the site of the old jail.
William Armstrong was known as the village's pioneer merchant.
On Route 661 , I come to the mill which has been a focal point in the town since the 18th century. It ceased operation in 1937. The large mill pond to the north was created by damming Bear Creek and connected to the mill by a short head race while an underground tail race returns water to the creek.
At the end of the town on the western side of Route 661 are the ruins of the Van Horn Farm which sits upon the site of the Petite tavern which was operated by Jonathan Pettit as early as 1753. This was definitely a surprising find after reading a 1874 map of the area. The site was destroyed by a fire.
On Allamuchy Road is the small Johnsonburg Christian Church Cemetery which was established in the mid 19th century, and contains a variety of 19th and early 20th-century grave stones.
Johnsonburg today is a quiet residential neighborhood.
If we go back to the 1950s, western and cowboy culture had completely taken over. By 1959, 26 cowboy themed shows aired during prime-time and eight of the top ten shows were westerns. Howdy Doody was every child’s hero as the merchandise flew off the shelves. Americans were hooked.
In Post war America, tourist culture blossomed and Wild West City stands as testimony to that era. It was once rated by the American Cowboy Magazine as one of the top five “must see” western theme parks in the United States. It is oftened compared to Buffalo Bills’ Wild West Show.
It was around this time that (1956 to be exact) that the American Foundation for the Preservation of the Old West purchased a tract of land in Byram Township, New Jersey. An architect was flown out to Kansas to research actual towns and shortly thereafter construction began on a replica western town.
Operated by Justus Neinaber, the site opened in the spring of 1957 and lasted until 1962. The town was leased unsuccessfully for a season and then closed until 1963. The Stabile, Rospond and Maitalasso families purchased the theme park in the fall of 1963 planning a short term real estate investment. Michael and Mary Stabile of Nutley, New Jersey were the operators of the park and eventually bought out their partners in 1966.
The Stabile’s continued to run the site . Micheal Stabile passed in 1993 and his wife, Mary in 2002. Members of the family still operate the park.
Stepping into the park, children run around with plastic pistols and cowboy hats.
There is a slight creepiness factor looking over the display of a western town with antique dolls.
The tiny shops each house artifacts from the past giving also a educational experience as well as a morbid one.
Of course, I wouldn't be telling this story without a little darkness involved.
In 2006, controversy struck the park when a actor was accidentally shot in the head with a real bullet. During the “Sundance Kid “ skit after the smoke cleared and the applause died down, the actor was still lying on the ground, blood trickling down his face. The happy city of a era long gone turned to scene out of a horror movie as a afternoon of fun turned to memories not to be forgotten.
Coworkers thought he had fallen, and rushed him to the hospital. After he underwent CT scanning that doctors realized he had been shot with a real bullet. Another actor, who fired at Mr. Harris, had inadvertently loaded his gun with .22 caliber bullets instead of blanks. He had been late to work and grabbed a coworkers bullets not realizing he now had a loaded weapon for the show. The actor remains partially paralyzed and has won a 2 million dollar lawsuit against the business.
All their performers must now receive safety training before working at the park.
Located on Hauxhurst Avenue, on a tall cliff overlooking the Lincoln Tunnel Approach and Helix is a German-style castle that dominates the landscape. Completed in 1904 at the cost of $75,000, the mansion has 17 rooms, ornate woodwork, marble, stained glass, and several fireplaces. It was once the home of Wilhelm Joseph Peter, a German immigrant turned successful beer baron.
Now long deceased, Peter was an avid painter, once having an artist studio located within the home. He continued this hobby up until a few weeks before his death.
When the 1930s rolled around, the homes along Boulevard East were acquired by the Port Authority to make way for the construction of the Midtown-Hudson Tunnel. Somehow, the Peter Mansion remained and was given over to the town. It was opened in 1942 as the Weehawken Public Library.
Wilhelm Joseph Peter, also known as William Peter, was born March 16, 1832 in Archen, Germany during the German revolutions of 1848–49. The revolutions were a series of protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, which included the Austrian Empire. He had no choice but to escape for fear of persecution, as he was the son of one of the leaders in the revolution. Starting in boyhood, he had always hoped to be a brewer and this made his parents more than unhappy, but he continued on with his dreams. Eight years after immigrating to the United states, he rented a place for $44 a year, with the option to buy and started a little brewery in West New York, with a kettle capacity of three barrels a day. His business thrived for many years. When his time was up he decided against buying there, and settled on the cheaper properties in Union Hill and was closer to the the summer shows and other entertainment that was taken in by the people of New York.
Not too far from the library on Peters Street is what remains of his business, the The William Peter Brewing Corporation. It is now home to a storage facility. Peters Street was once called Weehawken Street.
Across from the storage facility was a structure I had the pleasure of photographing a few times the past two years.
Sadly, on a recent return trip the structure pictured above had been demolished and was no longer there.
The brewery operation was shut down by Prohibition in 1920. In 1933, the brewery was issued a U-Permit No. NJ-U-329 allowing the resumption of brewing operations.
Trade Names for the brewery at Peter Street between Hudson & Park Aves, Union City, NJ:
William Peter, Palisade Brewery (Hudson Avenue & Weehawken Street) 1859-1889
William Peter Brewing Co. 1889-1920
The William Peter Brewing Corp. (Readdressed to 651/653 Hudson Avenue) 1933-1940
The William Peter Brewing Corp. (Readdressed to 3315/3317 Hudson Avenue) 1940-1949
George Ehret Brewery, Inc. (Readdressed to Peter Street between Hudson & Park Aves) 1949-1950 :http://www.eberhardschneider.com/
In June of 1918, William Peter passed away and now lies in rest at the Flower Hill Cemetery in North Bergen. At the time, it was the largest funeral in New Jersey history and every famous brewer attended.
Flower Hill Cemetery
Early Breweries of New Jersey By Harry B. Weiss and Grace M. Weiss
Drinking In America: A History By Mark Edward Lender, James Kirby Martin
Thomas Edison was born in Ohio and grew up in Michigan. From a newspaper boy to an American inventor and business man, somewhere along the way he found himself in West Orange, New Jersey. It was here that Edison earned a majority of his 1,093 U.S. patents that he accumulated in his lifetime.
The laboratory complex he once worked out of on Honeysuckle Ave in West Orange, New Jersey is maintained by the National Park Service as the Thomas Edison National Historical Park aka Menlo Park. For a few bucks you get access to an a extensive collection of antiques from Edison's time and the archives which contain approximately five million documents. You also get to see the Glenmont Estate, which was the estate of Thomas and Mina Edison, located down the block in Llewellyn Park.
Out of the West Orange laboratories came numerous inventions including the motion picture camera, sound recordings, silent and sound movies and the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery. The first major invention to emerge from Menlo Park was the phonograph in 1877.
Many motion pictures were made at the lab, including the first one ever copyrighted. He even built the first motion picture studio, commonly referred to as the “Black Maria,” in 1893. The studio could be rotated on tracks and the roof opened so that the best natural light could be obtained for a given scene. Demolished in 1903 after Edison moved motion picture production to New York, a full-size replica of the “Black Maria” was built at the laboratory site in 1954 which can be viewed today.
Menlo Park is also known as the birth of the modern industrial research organization and many companies followed his lead. The lab acted as a model for later industrial research labs such as Bell Laboratories.
The lab is definitely worth a visit and is one of my all time favorite museums I have been too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.