The Mirabelli Building – Neptune City NJ History
Update: Please refer to my latest feature, Steiner and Son: Neptune City’s Largest Manufacturing Concern for more/updated information on this famous landmark in Neptune City history.
Probably the most notable Neptune City history landmark from the late 1800s to 1999 was the Steiner and Sons Pajama Factory (later known as the Mirabelli Building). It was a large, 3-story brick building with a water tower. There was also a separate and smaller adjacent factory that manufactured kitchen-wares but it burnt down in 1958.
I spent the majority of my childhood face to face with this building as I grew up realizing my passion for the history of Neptune City NJ. It sat on the corner directly across from my house and we always had to pass it while coming down the major road, so there was really no avoiding it. Although I only saw this building how it was in the photo above, something about this place “spoke” to me.
I used to say that I was going to buy it and have my uncle fix it up for me so I could live in it, which makes me question my connection with this site ever further (wait until I tell you what else I found out about the property adjacent to my house). While lots of major Neptune City history occurred at this site, not many people know about it so I’m here to help.
P.S. It’s worth noting that the S.S Adams Building (which I discussed in my previous blog posting) supposedly had the same layout as the pajama factory but I can’t verify that for a fact, especially since I read it on Wikipedia.
Steiner and Son – A Brief History
The Steiner and Sons Pajama Factory manufactured pajamas, obviously. Specifically, they were Universal Nightshirts, one of which is pictured below. Yes, I own the only other existing garment known to man besides the one in the Met. I don’t remember how much I paid for it but I know it couldn’t have been a lot seeing as I was about 18 when I found it on eBay and didn’t have a lot of money. Again, there’s that questionable connection I have to the history of this place.
The Steiner’s had a couple of factories in the area, the S.S. Adams Bldg briefly being used as a storage facility for a couple of years in the early 1900s.
According to the Neptune City history book, many of the houses on the surrounding street were built specifically to house employees of the factory. My own personal research found that the house I grew up in was once used as a boarding house, presumably for male factory employees. Here is an actual classified ad from a 1920 edition of The Asbury Park Press regarding my house:
In my opinion, the most significant event that occurred at the site of Steiner and Sons was the first murder in Neptune City. In 1929, a group of bandits shot and killed George Danielson, a courier for the First National Bank, who was delivering a payroll to the factory. The craziest part of all is that the murder was planned just a few doors down from my house and evidence from the murder (half-burnt deposit bags) were found buried behind the home. I walk past this house every day when I walk my dog.
Transition to the Mirabelli Building
Another one of the most interesting things I found out regarding this factory is that there was a strike in 1935 that led to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Union to lease a house on Fourth Avenue to provide shelter and food for its members.
Steiner and Sons eventually moved out over tax disputes with the town in the 40s and the building was then occupied by the Mirabelli Company, which manufactured several types of garments.
There were some sketchy events that occurred when Mario Mirabelli owned the property including some mysterious fires and a possible arson case but I have not done a sufficient amount of research to the point that I’m comfortable reporting those events accurately at this time.
In 1955, a market occupied the space for some time before the building closed up for good. The market owners planned to purchase the vacant lot across the street to convert into a parking area but the plan never went through (this is significant for the upcoming blog post I plan on doing).
In The End
The building sat empty, desolate and deteriorating throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. Many residents complained that the building was an eyesore and a safety hazard. Some even claimed that they couldn’t sell their homes because of the building. The roof collapsed in the early 90s and the site became home to raccoons and other wild animals.
Demolition finally began on the building in 1999. However, a crane collapsed and crashed through the side of the building one afternoon during demolition work, halting demolition for a few days. My family had a party in the driveway as we watched the building go down (to my 9-year old dismay). Eventually, all that stood was the water tower and I watched that come down a few days later.
As usual, condominiums were built in its place. I watched them go up from 2000 until 2002, I only wished I had pictures of what they looked like during construction. You would never know that the site once housed so much history.