Summit, NJ


Southwest of Millburn/Short Hills, the municipality of Summit, NJ is another town I’ve come to know well as proprietress of Belle Maison Interior Design. The first settlers arrived in the early 18th century.

By the time of the Revolutionary War the area was known as Beacon Hill, due to the bonfires that were lit to warn militiamen of invading British troops. The first known use of the name Summit was connected to a leading New York judge, James Kent, who retired to the area in 1837 to a house he called Summit Lodge. His home is now part of a larger mansion on Kent Place Boulevard, opposite what is now the well-respected private Kent Place School.

The arrival of the railroad began development of the area in earnest soon afterwards.  Wealthy New Yorkers looking to escape the city in summer would take the railroad to the rustic charms of what was then called The Summit. They stayed in grand Victorian style hotels and guesthouses and mingled with their fellow Gilded Age tycoons. These summer migrations mirrored similar trips to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, except that The Summit was much closer.

The City of Summit was incorporated in 1899 and then began the final evolution from summer destination to metro New York suburb, a transformation that was accelerated dramatically after WWII due to a major building boom. In a parallel development, Summit is also well known as the headquarters for several leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies. And Overlook Hospital, a major regional care facility, also fits unobtrusively into the picturesque hilltop terrain.The downtown features quality shops and restaurants near the Summit Rail Station, now a major hub for New Jersey Transit’s Midtown Direct service.

Still serving Taylor Ham, Egg and Cheese  sandwiches is the Summit Diner, built in 1938 by Jerry O’Mahoney. He went on to build over 2000. This is the Summit I know: a beautiful, leafy and well-tended suburban town with many impressively sized homes, often with dramatic views from the top of the mountain; a downtown at once charming and useful; a sprinkling of imposing 19th century structures, now owned mostly by municipal and institutional organizations, which add a historic feel to the prosperous and diverse community.

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