From Scherer’s Inn to the Riverdale Lodge, Riverdale NJ

The history of this place begins with Joseph Slater, who around 1861 bought Ford’s Mill, located on Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike near the intersection of Newark-Pompton Turnpike. That mill became Slater’s Mill, which processed felt for hats.  A relative (brother?) named Otis built a house across the intersection on the southeast corner.

I don’t know the full history of this busy corner, but at some point the house was transformed into a tavern, and later added rooms to let, making it Riverdale’s first (and likely only) hotel.  This very busy place was apparently known as (not necessarily in this order):
  • Old Maple Inn (unconfirmed)
  • Scherer’s Inn (Joseph Scherer, proprietor) – 1920s
  • Riverdale Hotel and Restaurant  – 1930s
  • Old Heidelberg Tavern (Herman & Anna Zerr, proprietors) – 1930s
  • German Inn (unconfirmed)
  • Hunter’s Inn (Bert Lamb, proprietor) – early 1940s
  • Bert Lamb’s Riverdale Lodge (Bert Lamb, proprietor) – 1942-1946
    (Lamb sold it in 1946 but it was still in operation in 1948)

I don’t know the full history of this busy corner, but at some point in the 1920s the house was purchased by a German immigrant named Joseph Scherer. He might have turned the place into a restaurant/guest house (or perhaps it already was) and named  it” Scherer’s Inn”. Scherer and his family — a wife, four (or five) children, and some others — lived there as well as ran it.

Scherer's Inn, Riverdale (1929)
Scherer’s Inn, Riverdale (1929)
At some point in the 1930s, it became the Old Heidelberg Tavern and was operated by Herman Zerr and his wife, and likely his two daughters as well. Apparently they kept it up until Herman’s death in 1937.
Old Heidelberg Tavern, Riverdale
Old Heidelberg Tavern, Riverdale
There was probably another owner and another name, maybe more than one, before Bert Lamb bought it. Lamb, a New York entrepreneur, ran the place as a diner/tavern in the early 1940s which he called the Hunter’s Inn. Evidently he upgraded it to “Bert N. Lamb’s Riverdale Lodge” in 1942, and held a glorious grand opening on May 20, 1942 from 2 p.m. “until closing”. Guests enjoyed a buffet lunch and barbecue to the sounds of Harold G. Hoffman’s band.
Riverdale Lodge grand opening invitation (1942)
Riverdale Lodge grand opening invitation (1942)

A 1946 newspaper article notes that Lamb sold it to Joseph Sudyka of Bloomfield for $40,000. An article from 1948 revealed that it was still a going concern.

It’s worth noting the telephone number, from Scherer (at least) through Lamb, never changed: POmpton Lakes 540.

A classified ad offered the place for sale in 1963, noting the property contained “152 foot road frontage on Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike” and was “357 feet deep”.

At some point — perhaps the 1960s — the decision was made to widen that portion of Hamburg Turnpike. That spelled the end for the venerable old house. Today, the site is occupied by a gas station.