History: Cranford Then & Now

History of Cranford Park

The building now known as Cranford Park & Rehabilitation Center at 600 Lincoln Park East has gone by a few names over the years. Originally, it was the home of the Charles E. Kaltenbach family, and quite a home it was. It sat on 14 acres and fronted 600 feet of the Rahway River. While the Sperry home gets much credit as Cranford’s most magnificent home, this house perhaps was even more spectacular when the grounds are taken into consideration.

The home was built on land owned by Severin Droescher in the neighborhood known as Lincoln Park. They called their home Greystone. Charles died of a heart attack in June 1930 while inflating a tire in his car on Walnut Avenue near the Lehigh Valley Railroad crossing. He was 44 years old. Kaltenbach was formerly the president of Kaltenbach and Stephens silk ribbon company, the largest manufacturer in the world of narrow silk ribbons. The business was started by his father, Ernest, in 1887. Charles took over in 1916. The headquarters was in Newark, but there was also a satellite facility on Union Avenue which closed in late 1918. The Newark factory, built in 1911, still stands at the corner of Sherman Avenue and Bigelow Street.

Kaltenbach used his 25-room home for entertaining and among the guests who came to Cranford were said to be Gloria Swanson and William Randolph Hearst. In 1934 his estate requested permission to convert the home to a dinner club.

While the silk ribbon business helped him accumulate his wealth, the introduction of rayon and other synthetic materials led to a decline and eventually bankruptcy for the company.

In 1938 unpaid taxes and interest on the property were about $45,000 and foreclosure was being discussed. The township acquired the estate and leased the building as a convalescent center. In October 1939 Cranford Hall, a nursing home, opened on the property. The town sold the property in 1946.

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600 Lincoln Park E
Cranford, NJ 07016

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