Historical place

Lackawanna Records building named endangered historic site – All about the 116-year-old building


Here in Hoboken, we live among so much history. Mile Square is the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, where the first daughter played Little League Baseball {Maria Pepe, you’re a Hoboken Icon!}, And of course, a bustling, bustling metropolitan area in which, sort ofThe timeless English Victorian Gothic Revival architecture is still preserved. Of from the cantilevered townhouses and cobblestones of Court Street to the vaulted interiors and stained glass windows of churches, all of these historic elements are what makes Mile Square so special. The Lackawanna Records Building is one such room, and it’s now considered one of New Jersey’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Places.

{Photo credit: @preservation_nj}

Become in danger

The Lackawanna Records Building was named one of New Jersey’s Top 10 Endangered Historic Places of 2020 by Preservation New Jersey. National Prevention Month was technically May, but Preservation New Jersey still continues its efforts to raise awareness and defend Lackawanna Records. Built in 1904, Lackawanna Records is even older than Elks Lodge at 1005 Washington Street and the Erie-Lackawanna Terminal.

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The 10 Most Endangered Historic Places program aims to highlight 10 historically significant monuments throughout New Jersey each year. The organization says it is looking for buildings that are “irreplaceable historical, architectural, cultural and archaeological resources in New Jersey that are in imminent danger of being lost.”

The Lackawanna Records Building is the only building in Hudson County to make the list. Other buildings at risk include:

  • Cranford Roadhouse, Cranford, Union County
  • Fort Lee Post Office in Fort Lee, Bergen County
  • Futuro Houses Greenwich, Cumberland County and Willingboro, Burlington County
  • Lauriston Estate of Rumson, County Monmouth
  • Old stone house of South Orange, Essex County
  • Roosevelt Public School Roosevelt, County Monmouth
  • Sutfin House in Manalapan, County Monmouth

The three-story building on Observer Highway has been abandoned for many years, causing visible and dangerous deterioration. Citing safety as the main issue, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs took steps to completely demolish the building.

Although demolition plans are currently being drawn up, the Responsible Development Working Group is trying to thwart its own plans. According to the task force, the building could be restored to its historic glory days and reimagined with a new purpose, infusing a new “adaptive creative reuse” into the deteriorated structure. The next step is for the New Jersey Transit board of directors to consider alternatives to demolition, which is required by the State Historic Preservation Office since the Lackawanna Records Building is recognized as a historic site.

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About the building

But before the controversy – Should LRB stay or should she leave? – the Lackawanna Records Building was a glorious work of English Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, designed as part of Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad’s 20th Century Railway Yard Improvement Program. According to NJ Transit Resilience Program, it is the “oldest existing building associated with the Hoboken railway terminal and yard facilities”.

Due to its longevity, the Lackawanna Records Building therefore qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places and as a valuable historical resource for the city.

As the name suggests, Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad {DL + W} designed the building with the intention of using it to store railway records and documents.

Advocates of maintaining the historic site argue that the building can be restored to its former glory and move forward, providing a new exploitable objective in the city.

However, in recent years the deterioration of the building has become apparent and, as such, dangerous. The exterior walls became susceptible to large cracks and bends, while part of the roof parapet collapsed on July 31, 2019. Some corner cornice turrets are also partially missing and the collapsed roof has accumulated debris .

Yet proponents of revitalizing the project instead of demolishing it completely say it can be restored, once again providing for the city of Hoboken existing instead simply for the city of Hoboken.

What happens now

But whichever side of the table you can sit on in the Lackawanna Records Building controversy, things move slowly. As it stands, the board of directors of New Jersey Transit must initiate a review process to analyze what the alternatives to demolition might be.

“At the busy April 16 virtual meeting, everyone opposed the loss of the building,” reads a letter to Governor Murphy, signed by members of the Responsible Development Task Force. “The vast majority are in favor of adaptive reuse at their current site. This matches the strong victory of Alternative 4 in an online survey conducted by the City of Hoboken. We suggest that you ask the Board of Directors to take a more in-depth look at the community’s contributions and analysis of the alternatives and to further consider the long-term benefits of Alternative 4. ”

If this happens, the revitalization of the Lackawanna Records Building would become part of the larger scale Hoboken Rail Yard development project.

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Written by: Steph

Stephanie Osmanski writes honest things about health, the planet, and being a woman. His words have appeared on Business Insider, Parade, Eat This Not That, Dogster, Scary Mommy, Green Matters, Parents, Seventeen, Life & Style, InTouch Weekly, and more. His articles have appeared on the World Economic Forum, MSN, MSN UK and MSN Canada. In her spare time, Stephanie and her registered therapy dog, Koda, volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.


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