Home LifestyleHoboken 101 Hoboken TBT: The Castle at Stevens Institute of Technology (And the History of the Stevens Family)

Hoboken TBT: The Castle at Stevens Institute of Technology (And the History of the Stevens Family)

by Aida
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Buckle up ’cause it’s time to go back in time for a good ol’ #HobokenTBT. Today’s throwback Thursday is dedicated to “The Castle” at Stevens Institute of Technology. It all started with Hoboken’s first family — the Stevens, who had a deep impact on American life — as well as Hoboken’s major transformation. Here’s how.

Believe it or not, our beloved little metropolis was a farm that was developed into a city of success over time — consisting of engineering innovations that had a global and national impact. One of the main families that had a huge impact on our town was the Stevens family. Colonel John Stevens was an engineer, who, along with his sons John, Robert, and Edwin, were America’s first family of engineers. Their roots can be found all the way back to 1787 — with Stevens’ father was involved with ratifying the Federal Constitution, according to the Stevens Institute website.


(Photo credit: Hoboken Historical Museum)

While Col. Stevens was known to be a bit of a crazed scientist and all-around whacky guy, he invented and engineered some pretty amazing things that have shaped our world today. Some of these include the “Little Juliana” — the first use of steam to propoel a boat, the construction of an underwater tunnel from Greenwich Street to Hoboken, and the Phoenix, America’s first steamboat which sailed from New York to Philadelphia successfullly.

In the 1850s, the Stevens Family constructed the Stevens Castle — most well-known as the “Villa on the Hudson.” The brand new family residence was designed by one of the best architects of the time, Alexander Jackson Davis. Davis created a huge room with a view, as it stood on Hoboken’s highest point —with amazing access to look out at the Hudson River.

Aside from a room with a view, the castle consisted of a slew of rooms for all family members of the Stevens Family. Even guests had rooms (ballers, 1800s-style; now we barely have room for our roommates/spouses in our condos). All the rooms contained family portraits because when you’re that rich, whyyyy not. The castle had a greenhouse as well a floating staircase  — most likely the most pristine piece of architecture done inside of the castle.


(Photo credit: Hoboken Historical Museum)

When in full swing, the castle had more than 10 people playing the roles of maids and doormen. The entry on Sixth Street to the grounds of Stevens Institute is the original gateway visitors would pass in order to get into the castle. (Sidenote: This entrance is totally out of a Harry Potter scene at Hogwarts with the gate house being built by excavated rocks — which most likely arrived from Henry Hudson’s first trip on the river.) Sooo cool. At the site, the Stevens family hosted a ton of noteworthy parties back in the day.

See More: The History Behind the Madison Hotel {now Madison Bar & Grill}

On May 7, 1911, Edwin Augustus Stevens II converted the grand castle into a part of Stevens Institute. Throughout the years, the institute had dorms for students, a café, and many offices for the administration. The institution expanded and the castle was unfortunately seen as an outdated building which didn’t have much space. In 1959, it was knocked down.

Fastforward to present day, and the Wesley J. Howe Center is the building that stands where the Stevens’ castle once was in all its glory. The new building is a somewhat modern-looking 13-story structure standing at the top of the hill at Castle Point — and is also the visitor’s information center for students.

If you plan on applying to Steven Institute of Technology or just taking a walk through the beautiful campus, just remember that a castle was once in the place of the Wesley J. Howe center and that there were many crazy and genius ideas created atop this hill. Quite spectacular if you ask us.

Have old vintage #Hoboken photos or something to share with us for a potential #HobokenTBT? Email hello@hobokengirl.com!

Happy Thursday!

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