Clearing up some myths and misconceptions
Golden Crest: The builder, origin, and architect
By guest columnist Randall Gabrielan
The significant, artistic, Classical Revival Golden Crest residence, 62 Norwood Avenue, merits an accurate history of its origins—one that reveals its architect, Hugh Roberts, and makes better-known to Monmouth County its prominent Jersey City builder, Edward F. C. Young.
Young rose to wealth and power from his Jersey City base
Edward Young was born January 25, 1835 in Malapardis, Hanover Township, NJ. He moved to Jersey City as a youth and began a banking career in 1852 as a Hudson County National Bank clerk. Young married Harriet M. Strober, July 26, 1854. In 1865, he moved to the First National Bank and became its president in 1879. Financial acumen drew Young into many concerns, including receiver for numerous bankrupt firms. Mostly notably, he rescued the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company—a large manufacturer of pencils and other products—from financial troubles and became its president.
Elected in November, 1865, Young served five years as Jersey City treasurer, became fifth ward alderman in 1873, and in 1874 and 1875 was elected Hudson County Freeholder. Appointed State Railroad director in 1889, he served four years.
Young commissioned a magnificent home at the Shore
The Edward Youngs regularly rented in Elberon. When Golden Crest was under construction, legend has it that Mrs. Young admired the building taking shape nearby without her husband revealing ownership until the house was presented at their anniversary. This story appears apocryphal, but it is true that Golden Crest was built to commemorate the fiftieth year of their marriage.
The three lots Edward Young purchased in July, 1903, on the west side of Norwood Avenue, totaled about 5.1 acres. His architect, Jersey City practitioner Hugh Roberts, was revealed by the Jersey Journal, August 20, 1904. Soon after the Young commission, Roberts attained fame for his design of the great 1910 Hudson County Courthouse, Jersey City.
Architect Hugh Roberts had Hudson County connections
Roberts, born 1867 in Brooklyn and educated at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, was established in Jersey City by 1896. His career benefitted from family ties to political and business power centers. His architectural practice was propelled by brother-in-law William D. Edwards, a leading Jersey City lawyer and elected official. Edwards served as chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Committee, Hudson County State Senator, and corporation counsel for Jersey City and Bayonne. The earliest known Roberts work was for the Bayonne school board. Robert’s Jersey Journal obituary March 24, 1928, acknowledged Edward’s role in Roberts signature achievement: “It was largely through the influence of William D. Edwards that Roberts was picked for the position of architect for the new Court House…”
Residential work was significant to Roberts’s early practice.
News accounts reveal designs in the Bergen section along fine Boulevard side streets. His ties to Edward Young led to commercial commissions. In 1908, Roberts planned two Jersey City factory buildings for Dixon, the company Young led.
The Hudson County Courthouse plans were announced in 1908. The Evening Journal reported on January 29 that the building would cost $990,000. Construction of the magnificent Beaux-Arts design, enmeshed in Hudson County politics, was plagued by cost overruns. After blame was unfairly directed towards Roberts, resultant political heat and litigation derailed his architectural practice.
Golden Crest after Young
Edward Young died December 6, 1908. His son-in-law George T. Smith paid homage to his power and authority: “He was of such dominant influence that it used to be said in the county that ‘all lines lead to the First National Bank.’” Young’s widow retained Golden Crest until her May 6, 1924 death. His son and daughter conveyed the property to Edmund M. Wisner on February 27, 1928.
A longer, foot-noted version of this article is available on the Museum HERE
Randall Gabrielan is Monmouth County Historian and author of more than 40 books on New Jersey and New York history.