Bergen Hill Historic Area
111 Summit Ave
This site was formerly the home of Ephraim S. Wells, an entrepreneurial druggist and businessman. Wells invented a wildly popular rat poison, called “Rough on Rats,” which he promoted with an inventive and prolific marketing campaign.
Hon. George Bragg Fielder, lawyer, Civil War veteran, Surrogate Judge of Hudson County and U.S. Congressman, built this house as his home in 1870. He married Eleanor Brinkerhoff a member of one of the oldest Dutch families in New Jersey. The Brinkerhoffs owned much of the farmland in this area from the 17th to 19th centuries. NJ Senator William Brinkerhoff, a prominent lawyer and Mrs. Fielder’s brother, lived across the street at 97 Summit Avenue. George B. Fielder died in 1906. His son, James Fairman Fielder, who was raised in this house, was a lawyer, a member of the NJ House of Representatives and State Senate President. He became the 35th Governor of New Jersey when Woodrow Wilson resigned that position in 1913 after his election as President of the United States. James F .Fielder was governor until 1917 and then served 27 years as a judge of the NJ Chancery Court. He died in 1954.
103 Summit Ave
Now a pharmacy, 103 Summit Ave was built as a private home in the 1860s. It passed hands several times before it was bought by Joseph Dear, editor of the Jersey Journal beginning in 1867. He made some large additions to the house; his sons purchased the lot behind it.
George H. Mueller House
Built at the turn of the 20th century, this house was the home and practice of Dr. George H. Muller, a prominent physician in the city.
This lot was once home to Built in the 1850s, this mansion once belonged to a prominent wine merchant, Joseph Eiger. A few years after his death, in 1894, the house was put up for auction, but its sale suffered from the deep economic depression that plagued the area. By the 1920s, it was demolished, and replaced with these three apartment buildings.
Built in 1887, 97 Summit Ave once belonged to New Jersey state senator William Brinkerhoff, who served from 1884-1886. Before his term in the state senate, Brinkerhoff was the President of the Bergen Council of Aldermen, and was then elected mayor of the Town of Bergen in the 1860s.
91 Summit Avenue
Built circa 1889, 91 Summit was the home of civil engineer Edlow Wingate Harrison. Harrison is perhaps best known in Jersey City for designing the Jersey City Water Work, finished in 1904, which allowed the city to have a fresh, safe drinking water supply. Harrison additionally engineered the construction of Hudson County Boulevard, now Kennedy Boulevard, which opened in 1895.
78 Summit Avenue
The Home of the Homeless, Masonic Lodge, and Jersey City Children’s Home. The Home of the homeless, started by a few upper-class ladies in 1883, and now situated at 266 Grove Street, sheltered hundreds of children and a few homeless women. The Children’s Friend Society was incorporated in 1864. They established the first Children’s Home on the southeast corner of Erie Street and Pavonia Avenue, but in 1874 built the present home in Glenwood Avenue, near West Side Avenune. Here destitute children were cared for, fed and clothed.
1-3 Astor Place
1 Astor Place was the office of Dr. Mary Willis, the first female physician in Jersey City, beginning in the first decade of the 20th century. Later, in the mid-century, one of Dr. Willis’s assistants, Dr. Mary Carr, took over the practice.
At number 3 Astor Place, another one of Dr. Willis’s assistants, Dr. Young, had an office. In 1918, it was raided by the Hudson County sheriff’s department under suspicion that Dr. Willis was performing abortions. In court, ex-Governor James Fielder was set to represent Dr. Willis’s not-guilty plea. However, on her court date, Dr. Willis was nowhere to be found, and was in fact never heard from again.
Van Horne Houses
This row of four Dutch houses was built in 1889 by Garrett Van Horne, one of the first real estate developers in the area, and descendent of one of the earliest Dutch families in the area. The style of these houses reflects the Dutch heritage on the Van Hornes.
51-55 Summit Avenue
These Victorian apartment buildings were constructed in about 1899 on land previously owned by Edgar Wakeman (of 41 Summit). These were richly-furnished apartments for Bergen’s well-connected upper-class.
This stately house was built by John Edgar Wakeman around 1860. It was the first house on the west side of Summit Avenue; Wakeman owned nearly the entire block at the time.
Wakeman became one of the most prominent and wealthy developers of the Bergen Hill section. He purchased large tracts of land from the families of the original Dutch settlers, primarily the Brinkerhoff farms, laid out streets
and built and sold numerous houses. However in the 1870s, amid a national financial downturn, he lost much of his property and died impoverished in 1885.
Enlarged twice, the house was used as a private residence into the early 20th century after which it was turned into apartments. It was restored in 2000.
This building has been used for a wide range of activities since its construction between 1865-66. Originally conceived of as the first public lending library in the area, it became the setting for the Lincoln Headquarters of New Jersey in the late 1860s, and the Fourth Precinct of the Jersey City Police Department in the 1890s. As “Pheonix Hall,” the building then became a meeting place for those interested in the Irish revolution in the 1910s.
Now a city park, this site once held a stately house at 52 Summit Avenue was built around 1865 and was destroyed by fire and demolished in 1967. Constructed in 1850 by the McBurney family, the house was of gothic and Italinate design, had had two towers.
110-114 Summit Avenue
This block of three elaborate Queen Anne row houses still stands much as it did when they were built in 1890.
They were first owned by Charles and Myron Furst, owners of the Furst Department Stores on Newark Avenue in the late 19th century. Later, around 1910, number 114 was owned by Ernest Heppenheimer, a prominent banker and judge.
54 Park Street
Park Street is named for a private bucolic park that once belonged to Bernard Vetterlein, a prominent real estate developer in the area.
54 Park Street was once the home of J. Owen Grundy, the well connected, unofficial historian of Jersey City. He lived at this address above a grocery store owned and operated by his mother.
The end of the block was once a picnic ground called Bonnell’s Woods, and a prestigious private high school, the Hasbrook Institute, all of which was cleared beginning in 1917, for the construction of Lincoln High School.
93 and 95 Summit Avenue
93 and 95 Summit are buildings with particularly storied pasts in Jersey City. Built in 1875, they were the first homes to be built on the land that was once Bernard Vetterlein’s park, after it was subdivided, and housed well-to-do families. In 1958, 93 Summit was home to the gory murder of its occupant, Jaques DeVellier.
After DeVellier’s murder early 1960s, 93 Summit was leased to a city-funded program called Project Anti-Recidivism, which attracted a great deal of disdain in the neighborhood, and was eventually shut down by the . Over time, it developed into being the headquarters of the Black Panther Party branch of Jersey City, until they were forcibly shut down and removed in a heavily armed police raid in 1971.
St. John’s Episcopal Church
St. John’s Episcopal Church dates to a small congregation of prominent Bergen families meeting in a schoolhouse in the 1850s. The congregation expanded exponentially as the affluent community in Bergen grew in the years after the Civil War; it soon became apparent that a larger building was needed. After a painful and long debate schism in the church over whether or not the church’s pews would be rented or free for congregants, the group secured a loan from the bank ensuring that they could build a larger building to accommodate the growing congregation.
This Gothic-revival building was erected in 1870, and designed by John Remson Onderdonk, a local architect, and its facade draws on the European influence of the Chartes Cathedral in France.
In the early 20th century, St. John’s became known as the “Millionaire’s Church,” owing to its very prosperous congregants who donated money for Tiffany and Tiffany-contemporary stained glass windows and marble interior furnishings.
As the 20th century progressed and the demographics of Jersey City changed, so did the church’s mission and outlook. In 1960, the church called on the Reverend Robert Castle, a Jersey City native, to be its new leader, as the church began to flounder for funding and resources. Dr. Castle was a dynamic leader, devoted to Civil Rights and anti-war activism, and bringing with him a growing, progressive congregation. Castle departed in 1968.
After another rough patch in the 1970s, the church became embroiled in disputes with the Diocese of Newark, which eventually forced it to close in 1992.
St. John’s has not housed an Episcopal congregation since 1994. The church was granted landmark status by Jersey City in 2013. It is now in the planning stages of being converted into apartments.
20 Ivy Place
Phebe Ann Hanaford, the first woman ordained in the Universalist faith, served as minister here from 1874 until 1877, when she was forced to resign due to her close, possibly romantic, relationship with another woman congregant. Hannaford and her followers established another Universalist church across the street.
704 Grand Street
The building has been used for a wide range of activities since its construction between 1865-66. Originally conceived of as a library, it became the setting for the Lincoln Headquarters of New Jersey in the late 1860s, and the Fourth Precinct of the Jersey City Police Department in the 1890s. As “Pheonix Hall,” the building then became a meeting place for those interested in the Irish revolution in the 1910s.
- 111 Summit Ave
- Fielder House
- 103 Summit Ave
- George H. Mueller House
- Eiger Mansion
- Brinkerhoff House
- 91 Summit Avenue
- 78 Summit Avenue
- 1-3 Astor Place
- Van Horne Houses
- 51-55 Summit Avenue
- Wakeman House
- Library Hall
- Dickson-McBurney House
- 110-114 Summit Avenue
- 54 Park Street
- 93 and 95 Summit Avenue
- St. John’s Episcopal Church
- 20 Ivy Place
- 704 Grand Street