The Krueger-Scott mansion is currently under renovation for $ 10 million. For decades, people could only see the villa from the sidewalk. Photo by Darren Tobia / Jersey Digs.
The walls at the Krueger-Scott Mansion have a whole story to tell.
Newark’s grandest residence, boarded up and abandoned for decades, could only be admired from the sidewalk. A $ 10 million renovation will soon make it possible Public to see the rare craftsmanship inside.
The restoration of a historic house is associated with treasures. One of the great discoveries in this 19th century house was hidden in the walls – architects found layers of it History that goes back more than a century.
How ÖOwnership of the mansion acted between 1888 and 1982. Newer details were placed over existing elements, creating a cross-section of the architectural styles. The process of pulling back these layers has left the architects in a fascinating dilemma.
“Architectural historians have to decide – are we going back to the original design from 1888?” said David Smith, owner of Specialty Plaster and artisan at the mansion. “Or are we going with the changes of the 1920s?”
The Krueger-Scott mansion takes its name from two of the owners – Gottfried Krueger, a German-born brewer, and Louise Scott, the city’s first black millionaire. Almost two generations separated these entrepreneurs, but they had some things in common.
Newark’s entrepreneurship is embodied by the mansion’s namesake, two former owners, Gottfried Krueger and Louise Scott. Behind the historic building, Newark Makerhoods is building a live work space for artists and craftsmen. Photo by Darren Tobia / Jersey Digs.
Neither was from Newark, both were gold business owners, and both faced social forces that were beyond their control and threatened their livelihoods. Krueger, a beer brewer, suffered from prohibition. Scott, lived through the Newark Riots and died in 1982 when the city took the home in foreclosure.
Henry Shultz, the late Victorian architect of the mansion, designed the interiors in an exaggerated Baroque style with frescoed ceilings and hand-carved paneling. A common misconception is that its opulent plaster was part of the original design. Not so according to Smith. Schultz preferred stencils and embossed leather on the walls.
The 1920s marked the era of prohibition and Kruger’s brewery business dried up. The house was eventually sold at a loss to the Scottish Rite Freemasons. During this time, the elaborate plaster was laid over Schultz’s stencil designs.
However, plaster is capricious because when exposed to water it crumbles, infiltrating the historic building through the chimneys and roof. Repairing damaged plaster is an expensive undertaking because there are so few trained craftsmen.
Smith, who calls his craft a “lost art,” said he was one of only seven artisans in the state trained to restore plaster of paris, and all of whom were hired by Makerhoods to work at the Krueger-Scott mansion .
The design elements in the villa are a living record of the owners at the height of their success. Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Historical Society.
When restoration began last September, the craftsmen found that several reliefs had broken off. Fortunately, the late Victorians valued symmetry in their designs. By identifying the repeating patterns in other parts of the room, Smith could foresee the missing elements. Then he made a shape with industrial rubber and reproduced the design.
“All you need is one wall to be intact and you can figure out what the other three walls should look like,” said Smith, who has restored plaster of paris in famous historic buildings like the Alexander Hamilton US Customs House in Manhattan .
Secrets remain at the Krueger-Scott mansion for those who work inside. The architects worked on Shultz’s original design, but the house doesn’t always match the vision on paper. For example, sometimes a staircase isn’t where the blueprint says it should be.
“We’re still learning new things about the house,” said Smith. “We always play detective.”