Monday, December 14, 2015

The Newark Presbyterian/United Hospital

The story of the old hospital in Newark's Central Ward goes back to 1910. At the time of its creation, the Newark Presbetyrian Hospital was operating out of an old mansion. By the end of the next decade, the hospital owned several more houses down S. 9th Street. As the city continued to grow, however, the hospital needed more space. in 1929, a large new six story building was constructed. Sitting on a nearly 8 acre parcel of land. The hospital towered over the central ward.

In 1958, the United Hospital Network formed. It consisted of the Presbyterian Hospital, the nearby "Babies Hospital", the Newark Ear & Eye Hospital, and the Newark Home for Crippled Children. Over the years, the Presbyterian Hospital would provide care for the citizens of the central ward. However, the hospital faced severe turmoil during the Newark riots of 1967. An article in the New York Times reported that the hospital itself came under sniper fire, and several of the surrounding homes were torched. While responding to an alarm in the vicinity of the hospital, Captain Michael Moran was shot off of the ladder he was on. This was truly the worst time in the history of the city. While Newark rebuilt, so did the hospital. The "North Tower" Was constructed increasing capacity to 449 beds.

The downfall of the hospital began just a few decades later in. 1989. The President of the United Hospital network was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the hospital, and subsequently resigned. Two trustees struggled against each other to fill  the position, which grew into a series of legal battles leaving the hospital scrambling for funding. By 1991, the former President was convicted of several felonies. The same year, the replacement president was fired for not moving quicky enough to correct the damage done by the previous administration. Four years later, the United Hospital Network entered a partnership with the Barnabas Health Network, and the Networls name changed to "United Healthcare System". Unfortunealty this only lasted a brief time, and the hospital was shuttered to years later. Nothing that the administration tried could fix what had been done. Not only did the neighborhood lose across to local medical services, the closing also affected hundreds of employees, who all lost their jobs. This was a contributing factor to the the further decline of the neighborhood.

After the closure of the hospital, the property was purchased by "New United" for $725,000.
Headed by Clyde Pemberton, the group had plans to renovate it, but keep it open as a medical campus. In 1999 Essex County purchased the "North Tower" for $6.5 million (Nearly $5.75 million more than Pemberton bought the entire property for), with the intention of moving operations from the Overbrook Psychiatric Hospital there. Despite supporting the plan while in office as a freeholder, Joe Divencenzo changed the county's plan to move Overbrook operations to United site in 2002. The county then planned to move some of their offices into the building, but Mr. Pemberton included a clause in the purchase that the building could only be used for medical purposes. He felt strongly that the area needed a hospital, not more offices. Essex County then intentionally neglected their portion of the building in order to ensure they would be able to take the rest of the property through a condemnation clause.

Then, in 2010, the deed was seized by the county without any warning given to the owners of the property. Plans were announced that the building was going to be razed entirely. After hearing Mr. Pemberton's attorney explain the situation, the court ordered Essex County to do $200,000 worth of repair work to their portion of the deteriorated hospital. Joe D. refused, saying "Why should I put money in a building that is going to be demolished". Two years later, the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that the county misused their authority to blindside the owner and seize the property. Despite this, the county retained ownership of  the hospital. At this point, the Essex County was using inmates from a nearby CEC detention facility to clean up the neglected grounds. One day in 2014, a security gaurd at the United site was assaulted by a man stealing scrap metal. This was the final straw, and official plans were announced that the hospital was to be raised to make way for a new VoTech building. Remediation work began at the end of Spring, 2015. On May 6th, one of the managers was knocked down an elevator shaft after cutting the wrong cord on the machine when preparing the structure for demolition. By November of that year, the entire property was completely empty.

The United Hospital story is laced with corruption and political bullying, so its not a suprise Mr. Divencenzo wanted the buildings gone. These buildings are just more examples of Essex County's blatant and systematic disregard for the historic properties they have been entrusted with. Soon, Essex County will stop obbliterating their history. But that will only be because there is none left to save.


  1. You have really accumulated a lot of nice work here.
    I really appreciate the Isolation Hospital pics I only wish I could walk through it before they tear out all the interior walls.

  2. I read somewhere that a child died in the hospital and it was closed !

    1. You read wrong. Besides, it was a hospital. People died there on a daily basis.

  3. I was born there in1955. Raises in E.O. Left Jersey in 70. I was curious if it was still standing. So my question has been answered thanks

  4. I was born there in 1974. It is disheartening to know that a piece of my history was involved in so many illicit and shady dealings. I too was raised in East Orange, NJ.

  5. I was born there in 1974. It is disheartening to know that a piece of my history was involved in so many illicit and shady dealings. I too was raised in East Orange, NJ.

  6. I was born in this hospital ad well. Always wondered what happened to it.

  7. This is a very interesting web page and I have enjoyed reading many of the articles and posts contained on the website, keep up the good work and hope to read some more interesting content in the future. Absolutely this article is incredible. And it is so beautiful.

  8. How does one go about getting the old medical records for children that were treated at that hospital