Friday, February 8, 2013

Victorian Building Barrow-Wayne St Corner


This Second Empire / Victorian building on the Corner of Wayne and Barrow used to house a Baker and Lunch establishment.

Note the gas street light in the top left hand corner of the older image - every night these street lights would be manually lowered and lit.
Based on configuration of windows, door and stoop I believe that the building that currently stands to the right of the corner building is the same as in the old photo. It just seems as if another floor was added. Next to that the wooden building has given way to a parking lot.

The Building is Endangered

Apart from the mansard roof, there is not much that today gives away that this used to be a beautiful building. The building was labeled 'unlivable' by a Jersey City agency in 2012, and no visible improvements have been made over the last 10 years. As it is unoccupied and deemed unlivable, it's likely that it will deteriorate quickly from this point onwards if nothing is done to save it.

In 2004 a plan was drawn up to redevelop the block, under the 'Columbus Corner Redevelopment Area' and I believe this plan involved restoring the building. More details here (second half of article). But nothing ever came of the plan.

Even though the building is in 'less-than-great' shape, it can still be saved and restored to it's former glory. An example of how this can be done is 241 Seventh Street, in DT JC. A local developer took what was a condemned building, gut renovated it and restored the facade in historically sensitive way that blends in very well on the block.

I hope this is what in the end happens to the building at Barrow and Wayne St corner.

Picture Credits

The old photo comes from Jersey City Free Public Library's awesome collections in the 'New Jersey Room'. But I must confess that rather than obtaining the copy directly from the library, I scanned it from this book on Jersey City. The book is a good introduction to what Jersey City's various areas used to look like.

When I find the time I will try to obtain a copy directly from the library and upload it here - the picture quality should benefit.


  1. Thank you for this post! I've always wondered what the story was with that building! It's such an eyesore now.

  2. Anonymous Poster : What make you dislike the building so much that you think it "ought to be torn down" rather than rehabilitated? In what way would it be better for the neighborhood that it was demolished rather than renovated?

    If restored, I could see a viable commercial usage for the ground floor - the way it used to have. E.g. a cafe similar to Basic a block away from Hamilton Park. Basic is always full of people and gets lots of walk in traffic on the way for a stroll or play-time in the Hamilton Park : perfect time for picking up a coffee/other drink/small snack.

    A cafe in the ground floor could serve the same purpose for people on the way to Van Vorst Park. Or the building could be exclusively residential.

    Regardless, newer and taller buildings would fit in better on Columbus Drive. There are several empty lots available to be built on, on the same block. No need to tear down a historic building.

  3. The building is an eyesore that is so far removed from its original facade and structure that restoring it is sheer Historical Preservation Commission Folly. Not every old building ought to be saved. This is one that should have been allowed to die a peaceful total demolition death. Further what sort of pandering and corrupt deal was made to restore this piece of junk??? Are city tax payers subsidizing this foolish restoration with abatements? or favors? We would be better off if the domes on the City Hall towers were restored. That's a building worth saving!!! The piece of junk on the corner of Mercer & Barrow is quite simply not worth saving at all.

    With regard to "Basic", a Newly Constructed building can have a restaurant in it just as easily as an old building. You don't have to save this piece of trash building just to have a nice restaurant on that corner.

    I'm not arguing for a taller building. I'm arguing for Jersey City to require NICE NEW 21st CENTURY Brownstones be built in brownstone neighborhoods. Why is it only Chicago builds nice new brownstones that seemlessly fit into their brownstone neighborhoods? Why is so much New Construction in JC Garbage???

    Personally I think the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission does far more harm than good and it should be eliminated.

  4. I remember walking past this all the time for the last 12 years, and recognizing the top as an old 2nd Empire roof - I knew this was old, but it was in shambles. Recently built is the Rosina mini condos across the street, and opposite are the ornate mini mansions still there...

    Someone is now gutting/restoring this building, anyone can walk by and see for themselves.
    Someone knows what was once here and is taking great pains to restore it, for the betterment of the city.

    I do agree that JC builds garbage, just look at the Heights, but Chicago is Landmark city, JC is only regaining that status in the shadow of NYC...

  5. Amazingly, this building has now been sympathetically rehabilitated and restored to its former glory! You should update this site with a recent picture. Kudos to whoever restored this building, a rare success story in Jersey City historic preservation!