Riverside Historical Society

Historical Riverside

Progress

On March 12, 1824, William Newbold was awarded 550 acres of land as a settlement against land owner William Griffith.  Newbold sold about 160 acres of the land to Joseph Pearson, who built a small house along the railroad tracks and began clearing ground to farm.  Shortly after beginning his work, Pearson died and left the farm to his son Samuel Pearson.  Not interested in farming, Samuel Pearson immediately put his inheritance up for sale.  On August 2nd, 1850, Samuel Bechtold purchased most of the land that was to be the Pearson farm.  Less than a year later Pearson sold Bechtold another 123 acres of land that Bechtold planned to divide into building lots and sell.  Samuel Bechtold named the land "Progress" and developed it into a resort town and invited residents of Philadelphia to escape the swealtering summer heat in the city and enjoy a boat trip along the beautiful Rancocas.  Soon after, on Friday October 24, 1851, he sold his first plot of land, lot 242 on monroe street, to Joseph Weber, a blacksmith from New York.  More sales followed and Bechtold decided to build the Pavilion Hotel, a two story grand hotel and ballroom, along the path leading to the creek where he built a wharf.  Progress flourished as Bechtold attracted other tradesmen and and shop keepers, and soon Progress became a successful town with several stores and a hotel booked solid all summer.

Keystone Watch Case Company

Samuel Bechtold died at the age of 48 on november 1869.  His Pavilion Hotel was still sold out in 1870, but over the next decade, with the railroad constructed to Atlantic City and people discovering the excitement of the shore,  the hotel lost it's luster and was vacant most of the time.  Riverside was a community in trouble, and labeled a town with no direction, with an empty grand hotel in the middle of nowhere.  In 1892 Theophilus Zurbrugg purchased the vacant Pavilion Hotel and moved his Philadelphia Watch Case Company into it.  The company expanded rapidly and in 1908 Zurbrugg built a new building south of the old hotel.  Although the Pavilion Hotel is gone, the 1908 addition, dominated by a 7-story office building with an 8-story clock tower on the corner, still stands today.  Zurbrugg also opened the Riverside Metal Works Company, a metal producing factory intended to supply the special metal used in the making of the watch cases.  It wasn't long before the new plant took on a life of its own and became a large employer of men.  Zurbrugg built two sets of row homes and several stand-alone houses and made them available to his employees at "below market" rates.  For the first time in decades there was a population and building boom in riverside.  Zurbrugg's neighbor was Dr. Alexander Small, one of the most popular physicians ever to practice in Riverside.  Small was the man responsible for getting Zurbrugg to fund the hospital.

St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church

In the 1800s, Magdalena Yearly convinced her employer, Samuel Bechtold, to donate a plot of land to build a Catholic Church.  Bechtold gave the plot of land, along Middleton Street, to the Archbishop and sealed the deal with a Gold Dollar.  St. Peter's Parish was founded in 1853 by John Neumann, the fourth bishop of Philadelphia who later became a saint.  Through the years there have been many changes.  The original church was damaged by fire in the late 1880s and had to be rebuilt.  The church steeple had to be lowered after being struck by lightning several times.  By the 1950s the congregation was flourishing and begining to outgrow the church.  Each family donated $150 for the construction of the new church.



Zurbrugg Memorial Hospital

In an effort to show his gratitude to the people in the area in a way that would be worthwhile and enduring, Theophilus Zurbrugg left a trust fund of $250,000 for a non-sectarian hospital for Riverside.  For complete information on Zurbrugg Memorial Hospital, please click on the name link above.

Taubel Hosiery Mill

Christian Dick, who owned a seamless stocking mill and was the only major employer in town, taught William Taubel well.  So well, that William Taubel, a foreman at Dick's factory, eventually became the world's largest manufacturer of hosiery.
The original Taubel Hosiery Mill was located at Clay and Kossuth Street.  When Taubel eventually outgrew his original hosiery mill, he built another mill on Fairview Street.
In 1896, William F. Taubel moved into his new "dream mill" on Fairview Street.  Just a couple of years later newspapers announced Taubel's plans to add another floor to the factory.  In 1905, Taubel bought a large tract of land and in June architects completed plans for an additional four story factory.
Business was good and in 1911 the mill was expanded once again.
On January 2, 1916, The mill suffered what is considered to be the worst fire in Riverside's history.  Hundreds of Firemen fought the blaze for 15 hours.  In a valliant effort, from the rooftop of the other factory, the firemen faced heavy smoke, wind, and icy conditions as they watered the burning footbridge that connnected the two factories four stories above the street.  If the burning footbridge was allowed to burn, the fire would have spread to the main building where the mill's cotton supply was stored, and would have been the end of the entire complex and the loss of Riverside's largest employer.
The very next day Taubel announced that no jobs would be lost and plans were made to rebuild.  He also rewarded the fire company with a major donation of $2,000 to purchase another, more powerful fire engine.

Tak-A-Boost

Around 1911, Tak-Aboost was invented by Chemist Benjamin Faunce, a man with the necessary knowledge for the concoction of a health drink.  Created as a wellness tonic, or health drink, Tak-Aboost has had long-lived success as a recreational drink.  It comes in a concentrated form and is mixed with water, seltzer water, milk, milkshakes, or even as a topping on ice cream.  Tak-Aboost was registered with the United States Trademark Office in 1913.  Tak-Aboost was an immediate hit.  As late as the 1950s, you could go into Faunce's after school and, for a nickel, get a glass of Tak-Aboost on cracked ice served with a pretzel on the straw.  Tak-Aboost was so popular, Boost shops opened in neighboring towns such as Palmyra and Burlington.

Making History

History is history and it's being made each day.  Even events happening tomorrow will someday be history.  Click the following links to follow us as we track Riverside as it's Making History.

Spring Garden Park 

The Positive Press