The House on Fourth and Steiner

A little before 1891, construction began on the corner of Fourth and Railroad Aves (now known as Memorial Drive) in Bradley Beach (now known as Neptune City), which would eventually lead to the grand opening of Steiner and Son pajama factory, the largest manufacturing concern in the area. As a result of the opening of the factory, houses were built along Fourth Ave to house many of the employees, beginning in 1905.

On the corner of Fourth and Steiner Aves was a wooden two-story home with a wrap-around porch and garage in the back. This home would eventually become known as 916 Fourth Avenue and was the largest home built, assessed with the highest property value of $2,000.

916 Fourth Ave was occupied by the Reid family. George B. Reid was listed on the U.S. Census as a box-maker at the pajama factory while his wife, Hannah, was listed as an employee of its cafeteria. One daughter, Irene Reid, worked in the factory as a seamstress. Another daughter, Eva M. Reid, was also listed on the Census, too young to be working at that time. In 1914, Eva Reid passed away at 916 Fourth Ave due to bronchitis and was laid out in her “West Fourth Avenue home.”

The Reid family fell off the map and creepy things began to happen on the property of 916.

On December 9, 1925, the Asbury Park Press reported that the home, occupied by a man of the name Leo Cantor, was destroyed in a fire of undetermined origin.

Five years later, a home owned by Louis Kamingiser was moved onto the property from another lot in Neptune City. It burns to the ground on March 4, 1930.

Three years later in 1933, historic aerial photos show another structure on the property of Fourth and Steiner.

The Reid family resurfaced on the 1940s Census. By now, other homes have been built on the block, including neighboring homes 914 and 914 ½.  914 Fourth Ave is listed as rented by the Debow family while 914 ½ is listed as being rented by Irene Reid and her husband Matthew Gray. 916 Fourth is listed as being owned and occupied by Hannah Reid once more.

Just months later on October 2, 1940, The Asbury Park Press reports that two-story bungalow 914 ½ Fourth Ave, occupied by Hannah Reid, burns to the ground in a suspicious fire that started in three places, including the front porch. Hannah Reid moved to Hawthorne Avenue sometime after this incident and died about four years later.

Two years later (August 25, 1942), 916 Fourth Avenue is burnt to the ground for the third time, killing Daniel S. O’Brien, a handyman from Bradley Beach. O’Brien was working in the basement of the home, reported as vacant and unoccupied, when an explosion occurred after he lit a cigarette. A mattress in the basement of the home was sent to a lab for a chemical analysis, but the results were delayed and seemingly forgotten.

On October 31, 1942, the remains of 916 Fourth Ave were set ablaze by Neptune City firefighter-turned-arsonist Lawrence Braly of 26 Steiner Avenue. The home was completely razed for the final time.

My research leads me to believe that the Reid family owned all three properties at 914, 914 ½ and 916 Fourth Aves. I believe the family moved away from 916 after the death of daughter Eva, relocating to another home on West Sylvania Avenue and subsequently renting out 916 to other occupants before returning in the 1940s and renting out the 914 properties.

916 Fourth remained vacant until 1950, when Mickey’s Diner moved in for a short period of time before relocating to Highway 35. During the 60s, plans were in place to convert the empty property into a blacktop parking lot for a shopping center that was proposed in the then-abandoned pajama factory, but fell through.

916 Fourth remained empty for 40 years until 2018, with the construction of a new two-story, four-bedroom home. To be continued…