Downtown Paterson Buildings

Wentworth is by far the most significant architect of buildings in downtown Paterson. His contributions virtually spanned his entire career in Paterson.

His initial project, as a relatively young man, was acting as the Supervising Architect of the Post Office and then subsequently the Passaic County Court House.

Post Office and Court House

By far the most significant work in the 1890s was a contract to serve as the Supervisory Architect of a new Post Office and Court Complex under construction in the Colt’s Hill section of Paterson. Wentworth became involved early in the process. An article in the Dartmouth alumni magazine notes in September 25, 1896:

Fred W. Wentworth has been appointed supervising architect of the new government building to be built at Paterson, N. J., at a salary of $2000

The buildings were the center of county and federal government in Paterson and remain the focus of the governmental core of the County Seat of Passaic County.

The two buildings are accomplished and beautiful, even though they have little relationship with each other and neither reflect any of Wentworth’s design sensibilities.


Fred Wesley Wentworth in 1906 as a member of a Paterson Grand Jury

The Fire of 1902 and the Rebuilding of Paterson

In February of 1902,  the largest fire in the history of New Jersey leveled the center of the City of Paterson. A fire started in a trolley barn quickly spread through the center of the city. By the time the fire was finally put under control, most of the center of the city was destroyed.

Over the next twenty years, Wentworth received nearly two dozen commissions for commercial buildings in the downtown. The architectural styles evolved over time and cannot be easily categorized. Most are influenced by the City Beautiful movement which was increasingly influential.

A summary list of the principal buildings in downtown include:

  • The Gerstley Building
  • The First National Bank Building
  • The Charles W. Elbow Building
  • The Kitay Building
  • The original Masonic Temple
  • Paterson Evening News Buildng
  • Original YMCA and YMCA buildings

Wentworth designed several other important buildings in downtown Paterson with Jacob Fabian as his client. These buildings form the fabric of the city and include the Alexander Hamilton Hotel, The Fabian Building and the Alexander Hamilton Garage as well as the YM-YWHA were built during a later development phase in the 1920s

Charles W. Elbow Building — Home of Paterson’s Leading Haberdasher