Reverend Benjamin C. C. Parker
Fort Lee’s Parker Avenue was named for the Reverend B. C. C. Parker, a Boston born and bred Protestant Episcopal clergyman, who came to New York and served from 1843 to 1859 (the year he died) as a missionary to the Seaman’s Church Institute. The City University of New York, Queen’s College, which holds the records of the SCI and Parker’s journals is digitizing them and they are available online.
Parker, at one time, was a large landowner in Fort Lee especially the Monument Square area. His widow sold off the property soon after his death.
You can read Parker’s journals online at:
One of my favorite postcards of the Fort Lee Municipal building and grounds – so uncluttered – also provides a small glimpse of what is now the Senior Citizen Center but what was formally Heus Funeral Home. According to an article in a 1954 newspaper the Heus building was moved to its present location around 1915. It was originally just west of Linwood Avenue on Main Street, across from Bethany Methodist Church, but was moved 1/6th of a mile east to make way for a movie studio. The Heus family can trace its roots in Fort Lee back to at least 1880. If you subscribe to Ancestry you can view a 1912 map that shows the Heus building in its former location. (If you don’t subscribe you could sign up for a trial.) Ancestry also has Tillotson’s 1900 city directory which includes Fort Lee.
American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society
Years ago there existed an organization known as the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. It was based in New York. Every year the Society issued reports of its activities to the New York State Legislature. Several years ago I was lucky enough to acquire most of these annual reports. They make wonderful and informative reading about historical sites. The organization concerned itself not only with New York sites but with sites around the country and overseas. The reports are illustrated with photographs, plans and maps. The following is from the Seventh Annual Report issued in 1902.
FORT LEE, N.J.
Directly opposite Fort Washington, Manhattan island, in the State of New Jersey, stands the village of Fort Lee, named after the Revolutionary fortification which was constructed by the Americans in 1776 to complement Fort Washington in preventing the passage of British vessels up the Hudson river. The fort itself, from which the village derives its name, has become obliterated and the identity of its site lost. With a view to erecting thereon a monument, the residents of Fort Lee have appealed to the Society during the past year for assistance in determining the exact location of the old fort. The ground has been critically examined by an expert from this Society and a map of the village has been made, upon which are indicated all the material evidence that can be gathered concerning the existence of landmarks and the discovery of relics. The citadel of the fort is completely obliterated. There are distinct traces, however, of the stone huts used for barracks and of the breastworks southwest of the probable site of the fort. Many relics in the shape of cannon-balls, bar-shot, bullets, bullet-molds, bars of lead, etc., have been dug up and carefully plotted on the map; and old inhabitants who remember the topography of the ground fifty years or more ago have been interviewed. Documentary authorities have also been carefully examined, and it is believed that during the coming year the site of the fort will be definitely ascertained and an appropriate monument erected thereon by public-spirited citizens or some patriotic society.
Money appropriated by the New Jersey Legislature to build a monument in Fort Lee was placed in trust with the commissioners of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.
In the same issue there is a report on the creation of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and the acquisition of property “for the preservation of the scenic beauties of the Hudson.” The effort to preserve the Palisades continues to this day.
Fort Washington, mentioned above received its memorial in 1901. The photo below is from the Society’s 1902 Annual Report about the dedication of Fort Washington. For good measure we have also included a post card of the Fort Lee monument erected in 1908.
From the Palisadian June 24, 1943
The tavern proprietors in this borough at a session last night voluntarily agreed to make the Sunday morning closing hours 4 a.m. to 12 noon instead of 5 a.m. to 12 noon as required by the local ordinance. The temporary chairman of the group was Boss Creamer, proprietor of the Terrace View, Hudson Terrace and the borough’s plumbing inspector.
The Fort Lee Family History Society newsletter will be emailed mid-June. This coming month will feature an article on Decoration day in 1943. If you would like to receive the newsletter via email let us know. In the past we have featured articles on Fort Lee street names, churches, Mayors of Fort Lee, veterans, schools and a variety of other topics. Our newsletter always includes a unique photo or two like the one shown here.
1605 Lemoine Avenue in the sixties.
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