At a high point with
a view of the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers, the Summit House, previously
owned by the Newkirk family, is considered one of Jersey City's oldest
buildings. It stands on the east side of Summit Avenue north of Sip Avenue
outside of the original boundaries of the historic village of Bergen which
was once populated by Dutch
settlers. The present-day two-story building, composed of sandstone,
brick, and clapboard with a gable roof, is representative of seventeenth-century
Dutch Colonial style architecture.
The English governor Philip Carteret of New Jersey granted the land tract
to an Englishman, John Berry from Barbados, in 1669. The following year,
Berry sold the site to Samuel Edsall, a "beaver maker" from
Bergen. Mattheus Newkirk from Holland bought the property some time afterwards.
The date of purchase is not known, but the date for construction of the
building is about 1690, and it is known that Newkirk died in 1705. His
second wife Catrina Poulus Newkirk left the property of two acres to her
son Poulus in her will of 1731.
The property remained in the Newkirk family for about 200 years. Family
members were active in local politics. John Newkirk and his son Jacob
were both Hudson County freeholders; Jacob Newkirk also served as a Jersey
City alderman in the mid-nineteenth century. The family sold the Dutch
Colonial building in 1889.
Ten years later, the previously intact property began to experience changes.
It was deeded to the Queen's Daughters of Jersey City for use as an orphanage
and later by a succession of retail businesses. In 1928, the old Newkirk
property line and building were changed when the present-day Summit Avenue
was rerouted and the front of the building altered to accommodate the
redesign of the street. Additional windows were placed on the side of
In 1979 the building was purchased and readapted by Coneco, Inc. to become
a restaurant. During the renovation, it was surmised that the structure
was originally a one-story building. Charming original architectural features
of the historic property were highlighted to attract passersby into the
restaurant. The outer walls are of two feet of stone fitted in lime and
mortar. Beams of timber in the basement are six-by-twelve inches and those
on the second floor are four-by-six inches spaced four-feet apart. Eight-inch
wood pegs, rather than nails, were employed during the time of construction.
Winfield, Charles H. History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey.
New York: Kennard and Hay, 1874.