Voorhees Building, 410 Main St – Metuchen, New Jersey

Isaac Kremer/ December 8, 2021/ Uncategorized/ 0 comments

Old address 537-538 Main St.

1876 Atlas shows nothing on the block between the Pennsylvania Railroad and Union Street (later Hillside Ave)

Voorhees

Willroy Voorhees is shown living in Metuchen in the 1885 Census with his mother Julia, and siblings Julia and Benjamin.[1]

Willroy Voorhees was proprietor of the South Side Market for several years. [2] The 1900 US Census shows Voorhees living on Middlesex Ave with his wife and daughter. His occupation listed in the Census was “butcher.”[3] The 1901 Directory lists Willroy Voorhees as a “butcher” with home on Middlesex Ave and business on Pearl St.[4]

The South Side Market subsequently was taken over by Kellogg & Randolph. Randolph was in the employ of Mr. Voorhees and Kellogg was from Plainfield. Voorhees went on to start a butcher shop in Asbury Park.[5] C.C. Campbell rented the house of Willroy Voorhees on Middlesex Avenue to F.H. Bebee in June 1905.[6]

Elisha K. Soper had a business at in the Voorhees Building prior to October 1903. The 1900 US Census shows Soper living on Middlesex Ave  His occupation listed in the Census was “liveryman/hackman.”[7] Interestingly, he was also listed next to Voorhees whom he leased the building from.

Soper was a well-known Democrat who served as committeeman of Raritan Township in 1900 and in 1926, and as a councilman in Metuchen. He was a representative of the Quaker State Oil Company, member of the Royal Arcanum and the Junior Mechanics of Metuchen, and of the Metuchen Presbyterian Church.[8] Soper lived at 95 Highland Ave according to the 1930 US Census.[9]

In October 1903 it was reported the “D. LaTourette, of Springfield, Mass., will conduct his grocery business in the Voorhees building which was formerly occupied by E.K. Soper.”[10] The grocery store did not operate for long, as it was reported in April 1904 that “D. Latourette, who formerly conducted a grocery store in the Voorhees building on Main Street, has moved his family to Cayman, N.Y.”[11] The next business at this location was a confectionery and stationery store operated by Mr. Martin. He purchased a newspaper business from Adolph Cornish and had plans to open here on November 1, 1904.[12]

The newspaper reported that Alderman George Hahm purchased the Voorhees Building from Willroy Voorhees of Asbury Park, through Frank B. Smith in December 1904.[13] The deed was recorded March 30, 1905.[14]

George Hahm

George Hahm, the druggist, moved to Metuchen around 1899. Newspaper in July 1899 reported he and his family will occupy the “Simmen’s brick house on Main street.”[15] George Hahm had his drug store, the Metuchen Pharmacy,[16] with apartments where he initially lived at 412 Main Street.[17]  It was here in 1907 that after a railroad engine boiler burst, that a red hot bolt went through the dining room of George Hahm’s apartment. A lace curtain and part of the carpet as well as some woodwork were burned.[18] Hahm was civically active as well serving as a former member of the Metuchen Board of Education, on the Borough Council, and as a former tax assessor of Metuchen.

Portrait of Truman Tertius Pierson, ca. September 1909.[19]

On March 30, 1905, George Hahm bought the property owned by Clara and Willroy Voorhees at 410 Main Street. The property was still referred to as the Vorhees building later that year on September 7, 1905, when news was made that Truman T. Pierson through his own real estate agency arranged for the Public Service Corporation to take a three-year lease and occupy the building at 410 Main St as an office.[20]

Article from September 7, 1905[21]

Robert M. Kellogg as Superintendent of the Middlesex Water Company was helpful in getting numbers for residences in Metuchen. Working with the Borough Improvement League in May 1906 the Water Company divided the Borough into city lots and placed the numbers.[22] Kellogg was a director of the Hudson & Middlesex Telephone Company,[23] founding director of the Metuchen National Bank, and helped build town lock-up in the early 1900s.

Truman T. Pierson studied at the New Brunswick Business College. Then he took a position with Middlesex Water Company in Metuchen as a stenographer and bookkeeper in February 1904.[24] He rose to assistant superintendent under Robert M. Kellogg. [25] Pierson was subsequently elected Justice of the Peace for Metuchen in November 1905. The following year he ran for postmaster. During his campaign for postmaster there were question of Truman’s independence given his connections with the Middlesex Water Company. When several anonymous articles with criticisms of Truman’s roles as a reporter for the rival New Brunswick Home News appeared in the Democrat-run Metuchen Recorder, Truman defended his participation with that paper, the Water Company, and his real estate and insurance business. He then issued an extraordinary statement about his independence.

Regarding by being a tool for any man or corporation I beg to state openly that I am under no man’s thumb, nor will I ever be crushed under any man’s heel. I am my own boss and have a reputation in Metuchen which is good, and will stay good whether I win or lose at the polls, regardless of charges inspired by jealousy of the meaninst kind and hatred of a few who sought to reach the front and failed. [26]

Pierson prevailed and was appointed postmaster for Metuchen December 29, 1906.[27] And while Postmaster he was elected Republican county committeeman. As his responsibilities mounted, on June 1, 1907, Truman resigned his position with the Middlesex Water Company. This allowed him to “devote his entire time to his duties as postmaster and to his real estate business.”[28]

Article from May 1, 1907. [29]

An article from July 2, 1908 in the New Brunswick Home News debunked claims that the Middlesex Water Company was moving from Metuchen. Superintendent Kellogg acknowledged that the property on which the offices of the Water Company are located was sold, “but that is no indication that the water company is going to leave Metuchen.” He reiterated, “You may quote me as positively denying that there is any likelihood that our business offices will leave Metuchen.”[30]

The necessity for the Middlesex Water Company to expand and grow was tied to real estate development happening at the time. No water, meant no residences and no fire protection from hydrants connected to new water mains. An ongoing struggle occurred between municipalities wanting to expand, and the Water Company who needed “substantial income for a period of five years” in order to justify installation of water mains.[31]

Kellogg was reported to have sold his property to the druggist George H. Hahm in 1908.[32] Subsequently he gave his resignation, to be effective October 1, 1908.[33] After resigning he bought land in Idaho where he was part-owner of a large ranch. There he engaged in raising chickens and growing fruit.[34]

The Middlesex Water Company continued to have their offices in Metuchen even after Kellogg left as Superintendent. On March 24, 1911, the Middlesex Water Company moved out of Metuchen to new offices in Woodbridge.[35] After the departure of Middlesex Water Company, Charlie Chin leased the space for his laundry business.[36]

The 1920 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showed a cobbler in the north half of the building. Around the same time a posting was made by S. Salomone, looking for a Shoemaker to work out of 410 Main St.[37]

In 1922 Certain-teed Products had a store at 410 Main Street in Metuchen. They made roofings, shingles, tarred felts, insulating papers, paints, varinishes, linoleum, oil cloth, and FloorteX floor covering.[38]

In 1932 a newsdealer, Joseph Cooper, had his store at 410 Main Street. He was arrested for stealing newspapers from Miss Louise Binas, agent of the Union News Company. He was fined $25 and told the punishment would be more severe if he was found to be stealing papers again.[39] Later that same year Cooper’s store was robbed and merchandise valued at $1,500 was taken.[40]

Harry Sorenson was given permission to excavate under a part of the sidewalk in front of a store at 410 Main Street. The work was done to construct a new cellar for the store.[41]

George Hahm was appointed to the Board of Assessors in January 1939 for a term expiring July 1, 1941.[42] Hahm died March 7, 1948 after a long illness.[43] His wife Annie died at her home at 45 Station Place. After his death George Hahm left an estate of $66,820.81 (worth $765,000 in 2021).[44]

Herbert Seldow

Seldow came to Metuchen in 1940 and established a business on Main Street with his wife.[45] Seldow’s Confectionery was advertises in The Courier News in April 1941.[46] A classified advertisement from November 1942 sought a newsboy, “One with bicycle to deliver newspapers.”[47]

Seldow was named a director of the Metuchen Building and Loan Association in 1944.[48] Seldow was chairman of the retail merchants committee for the Metuchen USO Campaign in 1946[49], elected to the Lions Club in 1946,[50] and appointed to the first Planning Commission when it was established in 1950.[51] Seldow was a charter member of Temple Neve Shalom. He was also a member of the Metuchen Chamber of Commerce. [52] In 1953 Seldow was on a committee to study the possibility of a Grove Avenue underpass.[53]

February 20, 1955. [54]

George V. and Henry B. Hahm, as executors of the estate of George Hahm, sold the property to Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Seldow on January 28, 1955.[55] Seldow owned a stationery business in a store at the location that was approximately thirty by eighty feet at the time.[56] That same month after purchasing the property Seldow sought a subdivision plan to add a drive from Station Place accessing the rear of his property.[57] The following year in June 1956, Seldow sold the business after 16 years in operation.[58] Seldow and his wife also operated the Seldow Card Shop in Red Bank, Barricini Candy Store in New Brunswick, the Thoughtfulness Cottage in Middlesex, and the Good Tidings Card Shop in Shrewsbury. [59]

Jack Belowich, started with the store as an employee in September 1957.[60]  He became a partner along with his older brother, Harry, and an uncle, Abe Weinstock, and, in 1977, bought his partners out.[61] Jack Belowich served on a variety of boards, including the Planning Board, Borough Council, and the Metuchen Parking Authority. He founded the New Jersey Association of Parking Authorities in 1966. [62]

The business at 410 Main Street continued to operate under Seldow’s name. An advertisement in December 1978 for Seldow’s Stationery referred to an inventory including diaries, date books, appointment, decorative calendars, calendar refills, and personal diaries. Additionally they had watches, boxed candy, electri sharpeners, puzzles, photo albums, and study lamps among other items.[63] A similar advertisement in March 1987 referred to “An Extensive Selection of Wedding Invitations” and continued to use the “Seldow’s Stationery” name.[64] The story finally closed mid-November 2000.

A variance was sought to extend the existing building at 410 Main Street, despite having insufficient setback. This was granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment in April 1968.[65] Seldow sold property at 410 Main St to Jack Belowich for $230,000 in 1984.[66] The following year Seldow died at the age of 71 in 1985.[67] Seldow and his family lived at 459 Main Street, 74 Hillside Ave,[68] and 30 Beverly Court in Metuchen in the 1960s.[69]

2001Renovation for What’s the Scoop 
2001 Jan 5Deed from Jack Belowich to M-N-M Holding Co., LLCBook 4868, Page 737

What’s the Scoop opened in 2001, following an extensive renovation. When Jack Belowich  sought to fill the building, he wanted to be selective and make sure he did not duplicate anything that already existed on Main Street. Mike Patterson closed on the building January 2001 and retained the architectural firm of Schmitt and Aderson and DKL Interiors of Fairfield to design the store to fit the vision of Mike and Marie, a fine-arts graduate of Villanova who was the aquatics director at the Metuchen-Edison YMCA. The renovation featured white patterned tile floor and an inset porch-like front that allowed for tables on the sidewalk. The store opened for business on June 7, 2001. The ice cream sold at What’s the Scoop was manufactured by Sedutto, a Staten Island firm. The store was designed to be handicapped accessible with a party room in the back.

At the official ribbon cutting Mayor Ed O’Brian said “It’s a great addition to Main Street. It sets the tone for Metuchen’s small-town image.”[70]

Eric Berger

Marie and Mike Patterson sold the property through the M-N-M Holding Co. to Phoenix 410 Main Street LLC on June 5, 2009.[71] That same entity, 410 Main St LLC previously entered a settlement with Metuchen Savings Bank, for the unpaid principal and interest of loan used for renovation of the property eight years prior.[72]

Michelle and Michael Schutz operated What’s the Scoop at this location from May 2016 through November 2019. They moved to a new location at 457 Main Street a few months later. The building remained vacant after they left.

A plan for a two-story addition to the building with apartments above and a new retail unit to the rear was brought forward in 2020. This went through approval process. In November 2021 work began to demolish the rear of the building, remove the roof, trusses, and perform other work to prepare for the new structure.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

The Sanborn Insurance Maps tell the story of uses for the building. In 1903 there was a one-story building divided into two sections of 15 feet by approximately 50 feet. The northern section was an “Ins. Office”, and the south was for “Middlesex Water Co’s. Off.”[73] By 1910 the insurance office had become a boots and shoes store, though the Middlesex Water Company Office remained.[74] By 1920 there was a cobbler in the northern section, and a tailor to the south.[75] Both the 1929 and 1949 maps show the one-story building divided into two sections of 15 feet by approximately 50 feet.

Chain of Title for 410 Main St, Metuchen

Block 121, Lot 9

YearActivitySource
2021 NovDemolition of rear of buildingMDA
2019 NovWhat’s the Scoop closesMDA
2009 Jun 5Deed from M-N-M Holding Co., LLC and Phoenix 410 Main Street LLCBook 6058, Page 18
2009 May 18Settlement between Phoenix 410 Main St LLC and Metuchen Savings BankBook 2142, Page 583
2001Renovation for What’s the Scoop 
2001 Jan 5Deed from Jack Belowich to M-N-M Holding Co., LLCBook 4868, Page 737
1999 Nov 9Discharge of Mortgage from Lurene F. Seldow deceasedBook 234, Page 107
1997 Jan 6Deed from Jack Belowich and Jean S. Belowich to Jack Belowich and Jean S. Belowich as tenants in commonBook 4388, Page 523
1992 Sep 14Mortgage for $100,000 from Lurene F. Seldow to Jack Belowich and Jean S. BelowichBook 4299, Page 792
1983 Nov 1Mortgage for $180,000 from Hebert and Lurene F. Seldow to Jack Belowich and Jean S. Belowich 
1983 Nov 1Deed from Hebert Seldow and Lurene F. Seldow to Jack Belowich and Jean S. BelowichBook 3319, Page 550
1975 Apr 30Lease agreement ended between Belowich and SeldowBook 2889, Page 411
1957 Jun 21Lease agreement between grantor Harry Belowich, the partner of Abe Weinstock, and Hebert Seldow for $108,000Book 1972, Page 97
1955 Jan 28Deed from George V. and Henry B. Hahm to Mr. and Mrs. Herbert SeldowBook 1800, Page 167
1905 Mar 30Deed from Clara and Wilroy Vorhees to George HahmBook 305, Page 555

[1] Ancestry.com – New Jersey, U.S., State Census, 1885

[2] “Metuchen,” The Central New Jersey Home News, March 28, 1903, p. 3.

[3] Ancestry.com – 1900 United States Federal Census

[4] U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 – Ancestry.com

[5] “Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, March 28, 1903, p. 3.

[6] “Brief Records,” Metuchen Recorder, June 17, 1905, p. 1.

[7] Ancestry.com – 1900 United States Federal Census

[8] “Elisha K. Soper Dies at Hospital.” The Daily Home News, November 30, 1942, p. 12.

[9] 1930 United States Federal Census – Ancestry.com

[10] “Two New Grocery Stores for Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, October 16, 1903, p. 3.

[11] “Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, April 22, 1904, p. 3.

[12] “Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, October 13, 1904, p. 3.

[13] “Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, December 7, 1904, p. 3.

[14] Middlesex County Deeds, Book 305, Page 555.

[15] “People You Know,” The Daily Times, July 24, 1899, p. 8.

[16] “Engine Blows Up; 3 Killed,” Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, Arizona), March 16, 1907, p. 8.

[17] “Druggists Lease Metuchen Building,” The Daily Home News, September 13, 1946, p. 4.

[18] “Boiler Bursts and Three Die,” The Daily Home News, March 11, 1907, p. 2.

[19] A.C. Yard Is Named New Head of Jersey Postmasters Association, Asbury Park Press, September 4, 1909, p. 1.

[20] “Metuchen, The Daily Home News, September 7, 1905, p. 1.

[21] “Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, September 7, 1905, p. 1.

[22] “Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, May 31, 1906, p. 6.

[23] “H. & M. Telephone Co. Will Elect Officers,” Perth Amboy Evening News, February 2, 1907, p. 2.

[24] “Personals,” The Daily Home News, February 26, 1904, p. 1.

[25] “Nothing Slow about Postmaster Pierson,” The Courier-News, November 11, 1908, p. 2.

[26] “Truman Pierson Making Gallant Fight in Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, p. 8.

[27] “Truman Pierson is Metuchen’s Postmaster,” The Daily Home News, December 29, 1906, p.1.

[28] “Postmaster Pierson Leaves Water Company,” The Daily Home News, May 1, 1907, p. 4.

[29] “Postmaster Pierson Leaves Water Company,” The Daily Home News, May 1, 1907, p. 4.

[30] “Water Co. to Stay in Metuchen,The Daily Home News, July 2, 1908, p. 5.

[31] “Ex-Mayor Wants Fire Protection,” The Daily Home News, March 7, 1911, p. 6.

[32] “Metuchen Locals,” Perth Amboy Evening News, July 28, 1908, p. 3.

[33] “Kellogg to Resign from Water Company,” The Daily Home News, September 5, 1908, p. 1.

[34] “Home from the West,” The Courier-News, December 24, 1910, p. 4.

[35] “Water Company Quits Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, March 27, 1911, p. 6.

[36] “Metuchen’s Laundry Trust is ‘Busted,’” Perth Amboy Evening News, April 19, 1911, p. 2.

[37] “Wanted,” The Daily Home News, October 5, 1921, p. 11.

[38] “Certain-teed” advertisement, The Daily Home News, October 16, 1922, p. 5.

[39] “Newsdealer Fined $25, Stealing from Station,” The Courier-News, November 2, 1932, p. 17.

[40] “Store is Robbed,” The Courier-News, December 12, 1932, p. 19.

[41] “Council Revises Regulations for Beer Licenses,” The Daily Home News, June 21, 1933, p. 7.

[42] “Peace Hovers Over Council in Metuchen,” The Courier-News, January 4, 1939, p. 1.

[43] “George H.Hahm,” The Daily Home News, March 8, 1948, p. 2.

[44] “Druggist Leaves $66,000 Estate,” The Daily Home News, January 21, 1950, p. 2.

[45] “Metuchen Names 5 Members to Redevelopment Agency,” The Daily Home News, December 17, 1957, p. 3.

[46] Advertisement, The Courier-News, April 24, 1941, p. 28.

[47] “Newsboy,” The Daily Home News, November 29, 1942, p. 19.

[48] “Building and Laon Series is Matured,” The Daily Home News, December 28, 1944, p. 5.

[49] “USO Campaign Aids in Metuchen Announced,” The Courier-News, October 9, 1946, p. 6.

[50] “Metuchen Lions Name Chairmen,” The Daily Home News, November 22, 1946, p. 3.

[51] “Tentative Metuchen Budget Lowers Tax Rate Four Points,” The Daily Home News, February 7, 1950, p. 6.

[52] “Hebert Seldow, 71,” The Home News, February 21, 1985, p. 8.

[53] “House-Numbering Project Planned,” The Daily Home News, March 10, 1953, p. 5.

[54] “Metuchen Store,” The Sunday Times, February 20, 1955, p. 23.

[55] Middlesex County Deeds, Book 1800, Page 167.

[56] “Metuchen Store,” The Sunday Times, February 20, 1955, p. 23.

[57] “Contract Let for Sewer,” The Courier-News, January 18, 1955, p. 2.

[58] “Metuchen Names 5 Members to Redevelopment Agency,” The Daily Home News, December 17, 1957, p. 3.

[59] “Hebert Seldow, 71,” The Home News, February 21, 1985, p. 8.

[60] “Closing of Store Marks the End of an Era,” Home News Tribune, September 28, 2000, p. 32.

[61] “Closing of Store Marks the End of an Era,” Home News Tribune, September 28, 2000, p. 32.

[62] “Closing of Store Marks the End of an Era,” Home News Tribune, September 28, 2000, p. 32.

[63] “Seldow’s Stationery” advertisement, The Home News, December 14, 1978, p. 8.

[64] “Seldow’s Stationery” advertisement, The Home News, March 1, 1987, p. 25.

[65] “Zoners OK 2 Variances,” The Courier-News, April 11, 1968, p. 36.

[66] “Metuchen,” The Courier-News, January 20, 1984, p. 40.

[67] “Hebert Seldow, 71,” The Home News, February 21, 1985, p. 8.

[68] “Metuchen,” The Daily Home News, June 7, 1946, p. 5.

[69] “Burglar Bags Thirst Quenchers,” The Courier-News, January 8, 1966, p. 8.

[70] “Ice cream store has the hottest opening,” Home News Tribune, June 21, 2001, p. 41.

[71] Middlesex County Deeds, Book 6058, Page 18.

[72] Middlesex County Mortgages, Book 2142, Page 583.

[73] Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1903, Sheet 2

[74] Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1910, Sheet 2

[75] Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1920, Sheet 2

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About Isaac Kremer

Isaac Kremer is a transformational leader with a track record of success revitalizing downtowns in the United States. He has written and spoken extensively. He's always on the lookout for new and innovative ideas to unlock the potential of downtown areas.

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