Chester’s little “Rockefeller Center” building has seen many unique tenants in its day! In 1897, Mr. W.J. Litzenberger was reported to be doing a “good business” with his marble yard, which was located behind the building. This is where he carved gravestones for the locals and used the building as his sales office and display area.
Also in the late 1800s, the Post Office was located in Alonzo P. Green’s Pharmacy across from the firehouse. “Lawyer” Smith (postmaster), who was the son-in-law of General Cooper, was soon to move the Post Office across the road to Yawger’s store; and later to the “Rockefeller Center” building, which was just east of the firehouse.
When Chester’s Iron “Hey-Day” waned out, fortunate were those who could return to farming. They could put their efforts into raising peaches, apples and garden produce and often used it as barter for “store-bought necessities” to provide for their families. Horses and cattle were important to the farmer, and also to the townsmen. From earliest days drovers had driven horses and other livestock through Chester on their way to and from Sussex County. From the mid 1800s horses and mules were brought from as far as the Midwest to be sold.
During the late 1920s and into the 30s and the 40s, Abraham Meyer, who boarded with Austin Thompson, bought and sold cattle and had them located at the present Lowensteiner farm on North Road. During that time he had an office for his cattle dealer’s business in the “Rockefeller Center” building.
After that, the Rockefeller family rented not only the cottage for them to live in, but also the little building next to it, from George E. Conover. The cottage was ordered and built from the Sears & Roebuck Company and was located to the left of the “Rockefeller Center” building. At this time, Carlos “Rocky” Rockefeller used the building for a bicycle shop where you could not only purchase a bike, but also get one fixed! He would also sharpen the local children’s ice skates there.
"Chester Springs Swimming Hole"
The Grogan family owned this property along Route 206, which not only had the Chester Retreat Nursing Home located on it, but also Chester Springs swimming pond and snack bar. This was a favorite swimming hole in the 1960s and 1970s and many of Chester's young people learned how to swim here. The pond was filled in and the nursing home (once Budd Mansion) torn down so that the Chester Springs Shopping Center could be built on this site.
"Seal's Pond and Small Train Station"
Dick Seals owned and operated this small train which ran around his pond on Parker Road. This was located next to his house on the Chester/Long Valley border. These photos show Dick and some children riding the trains in 1960. The two children sitting on the train are Alan Malloy and Johnny Baht. Many of Chester's children learned to swim in this pond. Click on the image to make it a bit larger! Send us any history you remember of this wonderful place!
Crystal Lake ~ 1907
Chester Historical Society PO Box 376 ~ Chester, NJ07930