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.
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.
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.
The area of the intersection of Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike and Newark-Pompton Turnpike has hosted a variety of businesses since the 18th Century. We don’t know about all of them, but here’s the story of a car dealership.
In the 1930s, this building housed Guy Cook Motors, which sold Hudson motor cars.
The company, founded in 1909, was named for Joseph L. Hudson, a Detroit department store entrepreneur and founder of Hudson’s Department Store. The company’s goal was to produce an motor car which would sell for less than $1,000 (roughly $25,000 today). It was a successful venture that lasted decades, and spawned dealerships all over — including Riverdale.
By the mid-1950s, Hudson was acquired by Nash-Kelvinator, which manufactured Nash and Rambler automobiles, and re-branded as American Motors. Their Hudson Ramblers continued to sell well. At some point, likely in the late 1950s or early 1960s, Guy Cook Motors, too, was re-branded as Riverdale Rambler. (This is a terrific photo, taken from the same angle as the 1930s photo.)
The Rambler American continued to sell well as an affordable ‘compact’ auto. Wikipedia notes that “The compact Rambler American was most often the lowest priced car built in the U.S. It was popular for its economy in ownership, as was proven by numerous Mobilgas Economy Run championships. After an optional second-generation AMC V8 engine was added in 1966, it also became known as a powerful compact performance model…”
By the early 1970s, the building had been converted into a general-purpose auto-parts store called Auto Trade Town.
The lot at 72 Hamburg Turnpike, today, is home to a strip mall.