County: Middlesex County
The Anchor Café is a 3-story brick and terra cotta structure with a steep slate roof and dormers built in 1905. A round tower with a conical roof gives it a commanding presence on the streetscape. The building is dripping with architectural terra cotta in the form of keystones, brackets, window molding, roof cresting and a large terra cotta plaque depicting an anchor and the years 1890 and 1905. The Anchor Café was originally known as the Last Life Saving Station, a bar that started around 1890. That thriving establishment was renamed Anchor Café when in 1905, its proprietors constructed the current structure.
Perth Amboy was the center of a thriving terra cotta industry, and the City has an unusually dense concentration of buildings designed with architectural terra cotta. Storefronts, schools, municipal buildings, and private homes sport decorations made from carved and molded terra cotta. Perth Amboy has some outstanding one of a kind examples including a building façade with a depiction of the Statue of Liberty, a terra cotta automobile projecting over a garage, and a whimsical display of food and Art Nouveau butterflies on the former Palace Hotel. Not to be outdone on the city’s buildings, the local cemeteries also contain one of the largest collections of terra cotta grave markers in the United States. Perth Amboy’s immigrant population worked in the terra cotta factories and produced the very products that adorned their community.
The Anchor Café embodies the unique terra cotta architecture of Perth Amboy. These architectural details survive on the good will of their owners and with little oversight. Their preservation is threatened. Preservation New Jersey strongly encourages special municipal recognition of the terra cotta buildings and the special story that they tell about Perth Amboy.
Renee Skelton, Chair
Perth Amboy Historic Preservation Commission