| The Trust Company of New Jersey
building at Journal Square
looking north from Bergen Avenue.
Photo: A. Selvaggio 2002
Postcard of The
Trust Company New JerseyView looking west at Bergen Avenue and Sip Avenue
For many years, the bold red letters spelling out the name of THE TRUST COMPANY OF NEW JERSEY identified the location of the bank's flagship building at 35 Journal Square. The neon signs, mounted on scaffolding high atop the eleven story structure, at the time the highest lighting of the sky in Hudson County, could be seen from two different directions far into the distance. The bank's logo of a heart was added later, representing its slogan that it was the "The Bank with Heart since 1896." The end of an era was marked in late 2004 when the gold compass star logo of North Fork bank replaced the old red signage of the Trust Company due to the merging of the two institutions. The North Fork sign was short-lived, as it was acquired soon after by Capital One Bank whose name featuring white lettering and a red "swoosh" logo now occupies the spot.
The original banking
institution that occupied the Trust Building was founded by
General William Heppenheimer. In the spring of 1896, he and three
associates organized the People's Safe Deposit and Trust Company of Jersey
City at the corner of Hutton Street and Central Avenue. Its success led
to the banking firm known as "The Trust Company of New Jersey"
started in Hoboken and then in Jersey City by 1899.
Heppenheimer was also involved with the commercial development of Journal Square in the 1920s, and it is here that a new corporate headquarters for the bank was constructed. Its location promised investors, at the time, access to commercial enterprise from nearby New York City as well other towns in the vicinity, all within reach from the trolley, bus and jitney lines, the Hudson and Manhattan River Tube trains, and a branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Designed by architects Clinton and Russell and built between 1898 and 1921, the tall graceful Italian Renaissance style office building of limestone and brick represented the goal of prosperity for the business district. The eleven-story building, with basement for mechanical equipment, was dedicated at ceremonies held in 1927. The interior of the main office of the Trust Company on the first floor has Botticini-style Italian marble, accented by bronze and mahogany decor. The eighteen-foot plaster ceiling of the office is complemented by Doric columns and chandeliers; bronze teller cages accent the floor. Retail stores on building's the first floor face Bergen Avenue and the upper floors of the building have rental offices. The building was renovated in 1992 with an upgrading of the elevators, heating, and air conditioning systems. New brass doors were installed at the corner entrance.
In 1969, Siggi B. Wilzig, a Holocaust survivor, became a director of the bank. Having made his fortune in the Wilshire Oil Company of Texas, Wilzig invested in the Trust Company and became its chairman and president in 1971. He retired as president and chief executive in 2002 but remained as its chairman until his death in 2003. He is memorialized as a benefactor of the Wilzig Hospital at the new Jersey City Medical Center that opened in May 2004.
From 2001, the bank was known as the Trustcompany Bank and its stock was publicly traded on the NASDAQ. It expanded to have 75 branches in nine counties in New Jersey, including eight branches in Jersey City.
Jersey City branches of the Trust Company were: The original People's Safe Deposit Branch at Central Avenue and Bowers Streets; the Bergen and Lafayette Branch at the corner of Monticello Avenue and Brinkerhoff Streets, a fine example of Beaux-Arts construction that opened in 1902; and the Greenville branch at the corner of Ocean and Lembeck Avenues that opened in 1927.
The Jersey City Trust Company branch at Five Corners (Jersey and Newark Avenues on Maxwell Street) was built in 1929. It is a modern variation of Italian Renaissance design, constructed of steel frame, enclosed with bricks and stone; the floor and roof are of concrete construction. The bank facility occupies the first floor, which is reached by marble stairs from the entrance; stairs also descend to the safe deposit vaults and rooms. The entrance and interior of the bank is in antique green marble. The bank floor has a forty foot ceiling. The three story structure was renovated in 1986 by Frank Devlin Associates as a joint venture of Liberty Savings Federal Credit Union and the law firm of Lepis, Lepis and Curley.
In May 2004, the Trust Company and its seventy-five branches were acquired by North Fork Bancorp of Long Island, NY, in a $726 million stock merger. In 2008 the building was purchased by New York real estate developers Sackman Enterprises with Capital One occupying the banking facility in the building.
| By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub