The Wentworth Book

The Life & Times of Fred Wesley Wentworth: The Architect Who Shaped Paterson, NJ and Its People

by Richard E.  Polton

Take a look at the NJ Monthly’s write up as part of their Holiday recommendations:

| October 2012 | Distributed by Rutgers University Press

The Forgotten History of Influential New Jersey Architect Revealed

Architect Fred Wesley Wentworth shaped the city of Paterson, New Jersey through his buildings, but more importantly, he shaped a generation of immigrants who worked, played, worshiped and lived in his magnificent structures. And although Wentworth was a driving force during what could be considered a golden age for Paterson, his story has been all but forgotten – until now.

How to Buy the Book

So, we have you intrigued. You want to buy the book but are not sure how to do it. First, go to your local bookstore and ask them nicely to carry The Life and Times of Fred Wesley Wentworth, distributed by Rutgers University Press. Or, if you can’t wait, simply click below and place your order.


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About the Book

In his new book, The Life and Times of Fred Wesley Wentworth, author Richard Polton uses his unique knowledge of architecture and city planning, combined with a deep love for his hometown of Paterson, to tell the fascinating tale of this talented but little known architect and the city and people he influenced. 

“If you lived in Paterson during the 20th century, you lived in a city built by Wentworth,” says Polton. “Yet I had never heard of him until I stumbled across a book of his on eBay. The more I researched his life and work, the more I was fascinated by the breadth and quality of his career, the relationships he formed with his clients, and the enormous changes he witnessed in Paterson during his lifetime.”

Wentworth designed approximately 40 buildings in Paterson from 1890 through 1940 – everything from hospitals, elementary schools, hotels, beautiful homes and commercial buildings to original, groundbreaking designs for the burgeoning movie palaces of the era. During this time, Paterson was a place of movers and shakers – it was home to a Vice President of the United States, a Governor who became U.S. Attorney General, manufacturing and retail entrepreneurs, innovators, and captains of industry – and they were all clients of Fred Wesley Wentworth.

Among Wentworth’s most significant clients was Jacob Fabian, a Jewish entrepreneur and entertainment industry mogul. Together the two pioneered the design of movie palaces, making six in New Jersey, including the one of the grandest movie theater designs, the Stanley Theater in Jersey City, still intact today. Their longstanding collaboration also resulted in a major synagogue and social buildings that formed Jewish life in Paterson in the early 1900s, helping a generation of immigrants become the Americans they yearned to be.

“Richard Polton’s new book on Fred Wesley Wentworth is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the works of this important architect,” says Kathy Waldron, president of William Paterson University. “The photos and organization of the material make for a compelling story.”

Polton, who lives in Glen Ridge, is a founding principal of Value Research Group, a real estate valuation and consulting firm. He specializes in issues of affordable housing and urban redevelopment. He studied American history at Columbia, architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and city planning at MIT. He readily acknowledges that he envies Wentworth’s extraordinary accomplishments in the city he helped to shape.

“The opportunity Wentworth had to create so many types of buildings, and to be able to handle such a wide range of complex technical issues in a period when the basics of modern technology – electricity, telephones, radios – were only emerging, is inspiring,” says Polton. “And although it is easy to romanticize the past, the Paterson that existed before I knew it was a spirited and fascinating place that seems at once very distant and quite appealing.”

With more than 130 photos detailing the Wentworth-designed buildings and events of Paterson during his lifetime, The Life and Times of Fred Wesley Wentworth uncovers a forgotten history of one of New Jersey’s most important cities as well as one of the most overlooked but influential architects of New Jersey’s past.