Newark & Washington Park in the 19th Century
This land on which the Polhemus House was located (and where the Museum is now) is part of the James Street Commons Historic District, listed in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places and geographically defined by Washington Park. The James Street Commons Historic District is significant for its association with the development of Newark from its founding in 1666 to its transformation into a vibrant industrial city in the post-Civil War period. The house’s period of significance began c 1863—its approximate date of completion—and ended in 1948, the year in which it was sold for commercial use and ceased being the home of the Polhemus family. It was the last remaining 19th-century townhouse on Washington Park.
The house was constructed of load-bearing brick masonry with a timber-framed roof. The primary (east) façade featured bold projecting ornament in the Italianate style. This house set the architectural tone for the affluent homes that ringed Washing Park in the 19th-century.
From Agriculture to Industry
Newark was a rural, mostly agricultural community until the
The 1840s through the 1860s were a period of rapid growth for the city. The 1840s was the beginning of Newark’s rise as an industrial center, known for the production of rubber, soap, beer, thread, glue, leather, trunks, shoes, hats, silver, jewelry, cutlery, tobacco products, varnish and fertilizer. Newark’s importance as a major manufacturing center brought with it a rapidly expanding population, from 17,290 in 1840 to 181,000 by 1890. Growth was fed by immigration, first from Ireland and Germany, and later from Italy and Eastern Europe. As the state’s largest city, as well as its financial and business center, Newark quickly developed from a rural outpost into a dense urban cityscape of industrial and commercial buildings, residences, schools, houses of worship, hospitals, and
The Washing Park neighborhood’s 19th century development was very much a reflection of Newark’s development into a major industrial city. In the 19th century, before zoning laws segregated uses, the area around the James St. Commons/Washington Park developed as a mix of residential, commercial, and institutional properties. Between the late 1850s and the late 1880s, the resulting rise of the merchant and professional classes created a demand for appropriate housing and commercial and institutional services, including new houses of worship.
20th Century Transition
In the early years of the 20th century, the homes around the park gave way to large-scale commercial and institutional buildings—many of which hare extant today—including the Veterans Administration Building on Washington Place (formerly Globe Indemnity Insurance Co. 1920) and the following buildings on Washington Street: the Newark Public Library (1901), the South Wing of the Newark Museum (formerly the Young Women’s Christian Association, 1913), the main building of the Newark Museum (1926), the American Insurance Company Building (1930), and the Second Presbyterian Church (1930),
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1666.
Location. 40° 44.55′ N, 74° 10.318′ W. Marker is in Newark, New Jersey, in Essex County. It is in the Central Ward. Marker is at the intersection of Central Avenue and Washington Street on Central Avenue. The marker is on the grounds of the Horizon Plaza- Newark Museum. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Newark NJ 07102, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The 19th Century Italianate Town House (here, next to this marker); Perfect Vehicles 1988-90 (a few steps from this marker); St. Patrick's Pro-Cathedral (within shouting distance of this marker); The First Academy in Newark (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Seth Boyden (about 600 feet away); Donald T. Dust Home (about 600 feet away); Line of March of Washington’s ArmyChristopher Columbus (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newark.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 16, 2023. It was originally submitted on May 14, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 327 times since then and 79 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 14, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.