Clad in distinctive red brick and sporting its signature turret, the Krueger-Scott Mansion has long been a Newark, New Jersey fixture on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Gottfried Krueger, a German immigrant and wealthy beer baron, built the mansion between 1887 and 1889. During its long history, the mansion served various purposes such as a meeting place for local Freemasons and the home and business headquarters for Madame Louise Scott, a self-made beauty entrepreneur who is believed to have been Newark’s first Black female millionaire.
In 1982, the city of Newark assumed ownership of the house. Since that time, the building sat vacant and neglected. But the Victorian-era beauty is now getting a new lease on life as the site for a unique and innovative mixed-use redevelopment project called Makerhoods, a place for work, living and entrepreneurship.
According to its mission statement - Makerhoods combines affordable living, shared spaces for light manufacturing, and business support to help people start and grow profitable businesses that create prosperity, secure their futures and create inter-generational wealth.
After the ongoing revitalization of the mansion, the historic building will have offices and co-working spaces, workshop areas, and space for public events and more. Construction crews have also been hard at work on building additional structures behind the mansion: “66 mixed-income apartments, 16 Maker shops, a greenhouse, a demonstration & commercial kitchen, a courtyard, and event space,” according to the Makerhoods website.
The grand opening of the Newark Makerhood is slated for March 2022. Artisans and small business owners have already become part of Makerhoods’ special live/work program which entitles approved applicants to an apartment, a separate commercial space for their business, and business/entrepreneurship services at an affordable price.
We talk to Avi Telyas, founder and CEO of Makerhoods, and Erin Bush, Director of Community Impact & Initiatives, to get the scoop on this exciting undertaking that’s transforming a corner of Newark and transforming lives.
What’s the purpose behind Makerhoods?
This is a program for the underserved and minority entrepreneurs. It's about lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship by offering an affordable commercial and living place for any micro or small business owner who are looking to expand. And this program focuses on underserved areas that don't necessarily have the capital to expand and build a business.
Through Makerhoods, business owners have access to support services at a reduced rate. These services range from graphic design to product photography and access to loans at a good rate.
So as a small business owner, they don't have to go at it alone. And the added benefit is, even prior to essentially opening their businesses, we the community at Makerhoods hold meetings where you're able to interact with your peers. We have digital spaces where they're able to ask each other questions or give suggestions. There’s a real sense of community engagement.
That’s incredible. What kind of people have applied for the live/work program or the Maker spaces?
We've already selected the 16 makers after a fairly lengthy application process. They went through a very rigorous application. We started out with probably 100 interested applicants and narrowed it down to 16. For these finalists, we focused on two areas of interest: one was the food sector and the other was the health, beauty and fashion area. And we've got some fantastic entrepreneurs on both sides.
We have a commercial kitchen and demonstration space along with a greenhouse. We will have a café on site. There will be all sorts of food being prepared from vegan food to authentic Chinese cuisine, baked goods and ice cream. We have people making every type of beauty product that a girl can dream of. We definitely have a great range. A ceramicist will be on site and also a designer.
Why preserve the Krueger-Scott mansion?
When I (Avi Telyas) first introduced the Makerhoods idea to the city of Newark, the then deputy mayor for economic development, Baye Adofo Wilson, told me there was a great site for the project. And he pointed me to the Krueger-Scott Mansion. And then when I read up a little bit about it and its history, about Gottfried Krueger and Ms. Louise Scott, I was Intrigued because both were self-made entrepreneurs, which is totally in keeping with the mission of Makerhoods.
Plus, you see the mansion and you see the details there, it becomes almost a labor of love to try to restore it and bring it back.
And the mansion is an important part of the community. It's so interesting that people pass by and they often recount stories from their youth: “Oh, I used to play in that mansion or I used to visit the mansion.” So, there's a lot of attachment in the community to the mansion itself. It's part of people's lives and experiences, and they're very happy to see it restored.
Are there similar projects like Makerhoods in the rest of the country?
You know, there really aren't any. There are a lot of maker spaces. There are a lot of low income or affordable artisanal spaces and so on. But there really isn't a community of artisans that allows you to live and work in the same place. And the Makerhoods model is geared towards areas that have been overlooked and have suffered some economic blight. So, from this perspective, this is truly a unique project, and kudos to the folks in Newark who supported and approved and helped fund this project. It is a very unique project where urban land is used for the benefit of those who are here and live here. And from that point of view, it's very unique.
For more on Makerhoods, visit their website at https://www.makerhoods.com.
Check out and support the local makers and artisans of the Greater Newark Area at Makerhoods Market.
Note: Hanini Group is not involved in Newark Makerhoods or the revitalization of the mansion.