Layers of History Hidden in the Walls of Newark’s Krueger-Scott Mansion

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The Krueger-Scott Mansion is undergoing a $10 million dollar renovation. For decades, people could only see the mansion from the sidewalk. Photo by Darren Tobia/Jersey Digs.

The walls have quite a story to tell at the Krueger-Scott Mansion.


Once boarded up and abandoned for decades, Newark’s grandest residence could only be admired from the sidewalk. A $10 million renovation will soon allow the public to see the rare craftsmanship inside.

The restoration of a historic home is bound to unearth treasures. One of the great discoveries inside this 19th-century home was hidden in the walls — architects found layers of history that go back more than a century.

As ownership of the mansion traded hands between 1888 and 1982, newer details were placed over existing elements, creating a cross-section of architectural styles. The process of peeling back these layers has left the architects with a fascinating dilemma.

“The architectural historians have to decide — do we go back to the original 1888 design?” said David Smith, owner of Specialty Plaster and a craftsman at the mansion. “Or do we go with the 1920s changes?”

The Krueger-Scott Mansion gets its name from two of the owners — Gottfried Krueger, a German-born beer brewer, and Louise Scott, the city’s first Black millionairess. Nearly two generations separated these entrepreneurs, but they had a few things in common.

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Newark’s entrepreneurial spirit is embodied by the mansion’s namesakes, two former owners Gottfried Krueger and Louise Scott. Behind the historic building, Newark Makerhoods is building a live-work space for artists and artisans. Photo by Darren Tobia/Jersey Digs.

Neither were native to Newark, both struck gold as business owners, and both faced social forces beyond their control that threatened their livelihoods. Krueger, a beer brewer, suffered through Prohibition. Scott, lived through the Newark Riots, and passed away in 1982, when the city took over the home in tax foreclosure.

Henry Shultz, the mansion’s late Victorian architect, designed the interiors in an over-the-top Baroque style with frescoed ceilings and hand-carved wainscoting. A common misconception is that its opulent plasterwork was part of the original design. Not so, according to Smith. Schultz preferred stenciling and embossed leather on the walls.

The 1920s marked the age of Prohibition and Krueger’s brewery business dried up. The home was eventually sold at a loss to the Scottish Rite Freemasons. It was during this period when the lavish plasterwork was placed over Schultz’s stenciled designs.

Plaster, however, is fickle because it crumbles when exposed to water, which infiltrates historic buildings through the chimneys and roof. Repairing damaged plaster is an expensive undertaking because there are so few trained craftsmen.

Smith, who calls his trade a “lost art,” said he is one of only seven craftsmen in the state trained to restore plaster and they have all been hired by Makerhoods to work at the Krueger-Scott Mansion.

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The design elements inside the mansion are a living record of its owners at the height of their success. Photo courtesy New Jersey Historical Society.

When the restoration began last September, the craftsmen found that several bas-reliefs had chipped off. Fortunately, the late Victorians valued symmetry in their designs. By identifying the repeating patterns in other parts of the room, Smith could anticipate what the missing elements were. Then, using industrial rubber, he made a mold 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 in well-known historic buildings like the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, the Krueger-Scott Mansion continues to hold mysteries for those working inside. The architects have been working off of Shultz’s original blueprint, but the house doesn’t always match the vision on paper. For instance, sometimes a staircase isn’t where the blueprint indicates it’s supposed to be.

“We’re still learning new things about the house,” Smith said. “We’re always playing detective.”

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Intriguing! Thank you for this look into this building and discussion of preservation. l Let us celebrate the restoration of the mansion as well as the creation of artist/artisan housing and work space. Are future plans for the mansion yet known?

  2. I would like to see inside when it’s complete and maybe get an application for 2bedroom 2bathrooms if sec8 accepted

  3. Hopefully the residents and families who have lived in this for decades and through the riots will not be pushed, out of their homes to make room for outsiders, with mony

  4. From the caption of the reconstruction:
    “….Behind the historic building, Newark Makerhoods is building a live-work space for artists and artisans.”

  5. newark is rising up again but its a very big city and need a lot of developers to achieve this in as little as 5 years or it will take another 20 years to see improvements. Its a very beautiful architecture design mansion and should be restores

  6. I don’t understand why somebody always has to leave a stool in the pool!
    This Redevelopment is not displacing anyone! Nobody has lived in this Mansion for decades. But then again, his reference to “Outsiders with ‘mony’ ” gives him away as a possible member of what I like to call the ghetto Lobby. A group of people in every major city that opposed all improvements to a community. Most likely because they too are part of the problem!

  7. I’ve always heard rumors that this house has an underground tunnel that goes straight to City Hall….I wonder if that is true

  8. I remember when I was young this was Scott’s Beauty School I am so happy to see something done what’s the building I am a proud resident of the city of Newark and would love to see it.

  9. I’m very proud that they taking pride in restoring historical building I always admire that building I worked in Nelson Mandela’s office in Manhattan restored that and we found gold in the moldings it was bringing the whole building back to the original stripping it down I like to participate if so Master Carpenter I’m glad taking pride and restoring Newark wish I lived here

  10. In the mid 70s I commuted from Jersey City to attended Madam Scott’s beauty school, in the basement. I’ll never forget her teaching me how to curl hair. From what I remember, the first floor level was indeed grand!

  11. Im not sure about the tunnel leading to city hall but there were stories that the tunnel led to his beer brewery that was located on West Kinney and IrvingTurner

  12. You forgot to mention homeless were squatting in it and burnt and ruined several rooms of the house that are no longer able to be restored.

  13. There were prior attempts to renovate the mansion. A group I was active with in the 80s donated money toward it with the understanding a special glass stained window would be installed for the support. Don’t know how how true, but wonder if there are any record of it and would it still be honored. It’s been a long time.

  14. Newark has a lot of history in it use to be a dentist office called Dr shelton office long ago he was a good Dentist everybody new him then his children took over the dentist Great of Newark

  15. My father worked for Krueger’s Brewery. We lost him in 1963, but I remember his stories of the mansion. He described the design work, he was a painter by trade. Hope to finally see his visions.

  16. I wish the renovation could have started sooner! My cousin invested back in 1980 when Mrs. Scott was still alive, and before it fell into utter disrepair! Anyway better late than never! I hope it can be restored to it’s former glory!

  17. 10 MILLION DOLLARS…. REALLY…
    I know there are less privileged people sleeping in the streets in Newark that would benefit with some of that money..
    Where are the Priorities in this City to help others than to bling up an abandoned home??,, historic or not.. I hope you all can sleep well knowing that this money can be used for More Important Things and Saving Someons Life..

  18. Wow..I would love to see inside when they are done .. it’s a beautiful mansion from the outside.. it looks haunted🤣🤣🤣🤣but I would go inside..#daredevil

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