Here are two views of the stores and merchants populating Main Street in Butler NJ, on a fine Spring day in March 1950. At that time it was a quiet factory town – the devastating fire that would destroy the borough’s largest employer, the Pequanoc Rubber Company, was still seven years into the future.
There’s a lot to examine in these two photos. In the first, taken from Park Place, shows the hulking three-story American Stores Company (Acme) next to Kadish Drugs. The much-beloved Nees Bakery (and other stores) are remembered to this day.
If you chose to stroll up the street, you’d pass Romano’s Market, the Acme, and Kadish Drug Store. You might be tempted by the mouth-watering odors wafting from the open door of Nees Bakery. Further up, you’d pass Louis Levine’s fine furniture store, the Butler News Company, and a variety of others. At F.B. Whittle’s Hardware, you could pick up just about anything you’d need for around the home or garden. Across the street, you might see a train pulling into the Butler depot. Beyond Tintle and DePuyt Taxi Service, a ways up, you’d see the Pequanoc Soft Rubber Mill with its 225-foot smokestack. Just past Harry and Joe’s Cut Rate Meat Market, you could, if you wished, get a room at F.R. Casterlin’s Park Hotel and Stables – at one time it was known from one end of the East to the other – or just have a meal at their well-stocked bar & grill. Truly, uptown had just about anything you might need.
But wait – you haven’t seen what’s down Main Street the other way yet.
At extreme left there appears to be a variety store (“$1.00 and up”). This side of the liquor store and Butler House (rooms to let) you could get your shoes repaired. After the Safeway is Claude Post’s radio and television sales and repair shop. (Those things were heavy, so he would send a repairman to take it back to the shop.) You’d stroll past Tice Hardware, Pink’s drug store, the Brass Rail (where you might wet your whistle with a beer), and more.
Down around the bend you’d spot Butler Coal & Lumber, across the street by the tracks, before arriving at Martin Cook’s Riverside Hotel. If you chose to go further, you’d find yourself at the Butler Argus building, where the next edition was being readied for printing. After that, you’d find yourself crossing the bridge into Union Square… but that’s another post.
If you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane, why not let me know? And credit is due to the Butler Museum, which is housed in the historic, brick-red New York, Susquehanna and Western railroad station. Many of the stores listed came from their do-it-yourself tour of Butler, using their Museum Historic Address Highlights page. The museum is well worth a visit.
Finally, as you might note, parking along Main Street was something of an issue then. The newly-formed Butler Business Men’s Association would meet (the same week as these photos, coincidentally) to discuss possible solutions.
Today, there’s parking on both sides from Park Place on up – but that wasn’t possible until the second set of tracks was removed at some point.