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
Developed at the turn of the century, Boulevard East is a scenic road that runs along the Hudson Palisades. Before it was Boulveard East , it was known as Hudson Boulevard.
At the corner of 49th and Boulevard East is a set of homes that were depicted in a painting by Edward Hopper. The oil painting is entitled "East Wind Over Weehawken". It was painted during the Great Depression and made its home in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts until 2013 when it was sold to an anonymous buyer for $36 million.
Here is what that corner looks like today.
Edward Hopper Auction Results
Along the eastern edge of New Jersey lay the steep cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades/Hudson River Palisade which stretch north from Jersey City to Nyack, New York. Known for their vertical drop down to the Hudson River's edge they are approximately 300 feet high in Weehawken.
Established in 1859, Weehawken is situated on the western shore of the Hudson River, along the southern end of the New Jersey Palisades.Weehawken was known as a town who used a wide varieties of methods to battle the cliffs of the Palisades. Wagon lifts, stairs, and even an elevator designed by the same engineer as those at the Eiffel Tower were put in place to accommodate the tourists and summer dwellers who came to the area for its natural breeze of its location.
One of these was the Weehawken wagon lift which was a funicular wagon lift. It ascended from the foot of Hackensack Plank Road to then West Hoboken.
In 1887, the great Weehawken Elevators and Railroad began construction and was completed in 1891. By April of 1892 it began operations.
Near it were steps running down the cliff leading from Mountain Road.
The elevator and stairs are no longer in service but its remnants can still be found. In the overgrowth behind a commercial business along the cliffs and under a highrise is where what is left of the lift can be seen. The ruins of the stairs are visible from the road.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.