Scherer’s Inn / Riverdale Lodge, Riverdale NJ

The history of this place begins with Joseph Slater, who around 1861 bought Ford’s Mill, located on Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike near the intersection of Newark-Pompton Turnpike. That mill became Slater’s Mill, which processed felt for hats.  A relative (brother? Don’t know yet) named Otis built a house across the intersection on the southeast corner.

I don’t know anything about the intervening period, but at some point in the 1920s the house was purchased by a German immigrant named Joseph Scherer. He turned the place into a restaurant/guest house he named “Scherer’s Inn”. Scherer and his family — a wife, four (or five) children, and some others — lived there as well as ran it.

Scherer's Inn, Riverdale (1929)
Scherer’s Inn, Riverdale (1929)


I haven’t delved deeply into the Scherer family, but I know Joe Scherer was born about 1880. At the time the next owner, Bert N. Lamb, took over about 1941, Joe would have been about 60, and probably ready to retire after four decades or so of running an inn.

Bert Lamb, a New York entrepreneur, renamed it “Bert N. Lamb’s Riverdale Lodge”, and held a glorious grand opening on May 20, 1942. The place was open from 2 p.m. “until closing” and offered a buffet lunch and barbecue, accompanied by the sounds of Harold G. Hoffman’s band.

Riverdale Lodge grand opening invitation (1942)
Riverdale Lodge grand opening invitation (1942)

At some point — I want to say the 1970s, but perhaps earlier — the decision was made to widen that portion of the Newark-Pompton Turnpike. That spelled the end for the venerable old house. Today, the site is occupied by a gas station.

Businesses on Main Street , Butler NJ, early 1900s

If you could somehow pluck a citizen of Butler, NJ, off  Main Street a century (or more) ago, and plop him down in the same place today, he’d immediately recognize his surroundings. Butler is one of those towns which hasn’t changed substantially over that time. (Compare with any photo of downtown Manhattan, where very little remains from the past.)

Not only is this really cool to a history buff, it also makes it easier to pair the businesses of then to the businesses of now. Here’s what I know:

Judging by the car, this is early 1900s.

The large gold sign on the store reads “Goldstein Bros” … currently there is no third & fourth story, due to a fire. This is the large building formerly occupied by Levine Bros clothiers.

Main Street, Business Section, Butler NJ in the early 1900s. Click for full-sized version.

The store next door, closer to the photographer, has no large sign, but you can read “Soda” at the bottom of the window. This is the building currently occupied by Butler News & Candy Shop (150 Main St) — largely unmodified since this postcard!

The building closest to us is at 144 Main Street, currently occupied by Alvino’s Barber Shop.

The building to the left of Goldstein’s would then be the WCTU building (156-158 Main St), currently occupied by Mizuki restaurant. It appears the roof was rebuilt and is, today, higher than in this photo. Indeed, it appears that the WCTU sign is there, hung above the second-story porch.

The next building beyond, a house, at 160 Main Street is currently Vanderhoof & Sons Custom Heating.

And note you can see the RR station at left, down the block.

 

 

A Church is Reborn

October 24, 1937 was a bleak day for Pequannock Township. In a matter of hours, the First Dutch Reformed Church, first constructed in 1771, was entirely gutted by an early-morning fire. It took the combined efforts of 70 firemen from six other communities, in addition to Pequannock, to bring it under control.

There’s some fascinating video footage of the fire here, filmed by resident and local historian Carl Edwards. If you watch closely, the camera sometimes pans around to show the surrounding area.

 

 

It took the congregation less than a year and a half to completely rebuild the church from “ashes to splendor.” There’s video of the rebuilding process at this link, again courtesy of Mr. Edwards. The church is still in use today, known as the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains.

(Click on the images for a full-sized version.)

Jones store robbed!

No, not that Jones store. This happened in August, 1881:

Newspaper article about the 1881 robbery of William Jones’ store

Exchanging Shots with Burglars

Paterson, Aug. 10. – Word has just been received here of an encounter with the Storms gang of burglars at Pompton Plains on Sunday night. …

A year ago they robbed the store of Mr. William Jones, at Pompton Plains. On Sunday night last, sometime between midnight and 2 A.M., Mr. Jones heard a noise in the house. Going into the basement, he heard footsteps in the store. He immediately went up stairs, got his revolver, and went outside, where he found that a window shutter had been removed.

Peering in, he could see a man rummaging among the goods, and immediately fired at him. The burglar gave a shriek of pain. The light inside was extinguished and four shots were fired at Mr. Jones and his wife, who had followed him.

As they were standing in the bright moonlight, they retreated, and the robbers decamped. Mr. Jones recognized the man he shot as Jake Storms. He is thought to be wounded.

(Click on the image for a full-sized version.)

No idea where William Jones’ store was, or for that matter, who he was. I asked Rob Jones, but he didn’t recognize the name as part of his family tree. His grandfather took over an existing hardware store in April 1929, but that’s all I know, except that at one point, the place was a general store (and likely a post office) run by the Berry family.

I haven’t had any luck, so far, tracing the elusive Jake Storms further in history. Did he survive? Did his gang return to burgle again? Wouldn’t I like to know.

 

The Route 23/46 Interchange, Wayne NJ (1964)

Today, the area where Route 23, Route 46, and Interstate 80 meet is a veritable ‘spaghetti bowl’ of highways, ramps, and overpasses. Decades ago, though, there was just Newark-Pompton Turnpike (Route 23) and Route 6 (today’s Route 46, but it’s been renumbered a lot).

In the 1960s, before I-80 came through, this was what the interchange looked like. This photo shows us looking east. Route 23 is at left and at right. Some remember there being traffic lights on the traffic circle.

Aerial view, Route 23 & 46 (1964)

(Click on the image to view it full size.)

If you look at the buildings near bottom right — just to the left of the ad “winter supplies” — you’ll see where Orange Trailer was. This trailer-rental company was owned & operated by the Heslin family of Pequannock. (If you have similar memories, let me know in the comments.)

 

 

More about the ‘Ghost Bridge’ of Oak Ridge Reservoir

I found this line drawing in an 1891 journal titled Engineering Record, in an article titled CONSTRUCTION OF THE EAST JERSEY WATER COMPANY’S AQUEDUCT AND RESERVOIRS. It’s a lengthy piece about the massive undertaking of building five reservoirs in north Jersey for the benefit of Newark. (Another of my interests. You may yawn, if you like.)

So this line drawing is described thus: “Figure 3 is a view of the three-arch bridge carrying the new highway across an arm of the Oak Ridge reservoir. At full stages of the water these arches will be completely submerged.”  

Which, of course, they are, as per this blog post. If you’re lucky to be there during a drought, you too can see it… even walk on it, if you dare.

Ghost Bridge illustration (1891)
Ghost Bridge illustration (1891)

The “new highway” wasn’t all that new; it was the Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike. At the time the Oak Ridge reservoir was under construction, the roadway ran along the shore of the river. The East Jersey Water Company had to move it, which they did.  That’s another blog post.

 

Vintage ad: Farm for sale

October 1851:

FARM FOR SALE – The farm belonging to Sam’l Berry, dec’d, on Pompton Plains, is offered for sale, in parts or whole, to suit the purchaser, situated on the main road from Newark to Pompton, also on the road leading to Paterson, and within ten minutes walk of the Church and Academy. For particulars enquire of PETER S. BERRY 157 Charles st, N.Y. or HUGH HEATH, 6 Columbia st Newark, or on the premises.

The “main road from Newark to Pompton” was, in fact, the Newark-Pompton Turnpike. “Within ten minutes walk of the Church and the [Union] Academy” tells us it wasn’t far from the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains.  That’s all I know; perhaps some Berry descendant can add more in the Comments.

 

Ad - Berry farm for sale (1851)
Ad – Berry farm for sale (1851)

Greetings from Pequannock, N.J.

Your typical “greetings from” postcard shows a generic illustration of fields, a country road, a lake, or whatever. This one, at least, does appear to have been taken in Pequannock. It shows a lovely view of the river… with Newark’s four-foot water pipeline crossing it.

Postcard sent in 1922

An idyllic scene, ostensibly from Pompton Plains. It’s probably a generic card, as witness the blocky font with the town’s name. “Greetings from YOUR TOWN HERE”.

 

Postcard sent in 1928

Dawn’s Rest

“Dawn’s Rest” was, in the early part of the 20th Century, one of many places that a weary traveler could put up his feet and relax for a spell. Back in the day, Pequannock — in fact, the whole of north Jersey — was tranquil and restful. It offered a respite from busy city life (by comparison).

Dawn's Rest ad (1914)
Dawn’s Rest ad (1914)

Mrs. Dawn’s place offered “large, airy rooms” just a short walk from the railroad station. Naturally, all the meals were “home cooked”, including vegetables from a no doubt sizable garden out back. And it was open all year, guaranteed to be “an ideal winter home for settled people”.

 

Dawn’s Rest, Pompton Plains, looking south (early 1900s)

 

Dawn's Rest, looking north
Dawn’s Rest, Pompton Plains, looking north (early 1900s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a pretty good idea where Dawn’s Rest was once situated: on the Turnpike, just south of Jackson Avenue.  This 1937 Sanborne map marks it as “vacant”.

 

Dawn's Rest location
Dawn’s Rest location

 

Today, there’s a strip mall at that location. It’s between the Little Food Inn and the Lutjen building.

So who was “Mrs. A. Dawn”?  I can’t seem to find her in either the Ancestry or FamilySearch genealogy databases. Maybe it was a pseudonym.

The Cleary building

This building, on the corner of Boonton Ave. and Kiel Ave., started out as Cleary’s Department Store early in the 20th Century.  It also served as the town’s post office after the Clearys moved to a different location. Note the unpaved roads, which became quite messy in wet weather.

Just past it is Cleary’s Grocery Market.  Across the street is A. Scott, Tailor. Someone on the Butler page on Facebook commented that the tailor shop became Henry Ricker’s Pharmacy, while one of the next stores was King Hiller’s music store. Hiller also played the organ in the Butler Theatre, back in the day.

Click on this hand-colored postcard to see the full-sized version.

 

Cleary building
Boonton Ave & Cleary building, Butler, about 1907

Here’s how it looked in 2001. (I strive to duplicate the old photos as closely as possible.)  It also looked pretty much the same in the early 1980s when I worked for Suburban Trends, which occupied all three floors. The printing press was in the garage next to it.

The buildings across from it are still there, still in use as storefronts. This 2000 photo shows the corner store was Cafe Buono; before that, when I worked in Butler, and for many years before and after that, it was Pro’s Sweet Shop. The locals still speak of it wistfully. It was a great luncheonette.

Cleary building (2000)
Boonton Ave & Cleary building (2000)