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Summit House/Newkirk House
510 Summit Avenue, northeast edge of old Bergen Village
NJ State Register of Historic Places

SummitHouse/Newkirk House
Photo:A. Selvaggio, 2003

Summit House/Newkirk House
Photo: C. Karnoutsos, 2002


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 the building.

Summit House/Newkirk House
Photo: C. Karnoutsos, 2002

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.

Reference:

Winfield, Charles H. History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey. New York: Kennard and Hay, 1874.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub