With a high-top view of the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers, the Summit House, built by the Newkirk family, is considered one of Jersey City's oldest buildings. It stands on the east side of Summit Avenue, north of Sip Avenue and beyond the historic Dutch village of Bergen. The present-day two-story building, composed of sandstone, brick, and clapboard with a gable roof, is representative of seventeenth-century Dutch Colonial-style architecture.
New Jersey's English governor Philip Carteret granted the land tract to John Berry, an Englishman from Barbados, in 1669. Berry sold the site to Samuel Edsall from Bergen, a "beaver maker," in 1670. Mattheus Newkirk from Holland bought the property sometime afterward. While the purchase date is unknown, the building construction was about 1690. Newkirk died in 1705. His second wife, Catrina Poulus Newkirk, left the property of two acres to her son Poulus in her 1731 will.
The property remained with the Newkirk family for about 200 years. Active in local politics, John Newkirk and his son Jacob were both Hudson County freeholders. Jacob Newkirk also served as a Jersey City alderman in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Newkirk family sold the Dutch colonial building in 1889. Ten years later, the previously intact property began to experience changes. It was deeded to the Queen's Daughters of Jersey City for a day nursery and later for a succession of retail businesses. In 1928, the property line and building were modified for rerouting present-day Summit Avenue. The building's facade was altered for the new street design, and additional windows were added to the side of the building.
In 1979, Coneco, Inc. purchased and repurposed the building to become the Summit House Restaurant. During the renovation, it was found that the structure was originally a one-story building. The outer walls are two feet of stone fitted in lime and mortar. Beams of timber in the basement are six-by-twelve inches; those on the second floor are four-by-six inches spaced four feet apart. Eight-inch wood pegs, rather than nails, were employed for the construction. The restaurant's interior featured architectural features original to the historic property.
After 2010, the restaurant had a new owner, was renamed Sanai's Restaurant, and closed about 2017. The Englewood Cliffs real estate firm Procida Funding and Advisors purchased the property at auction for $1.2 million in 2021.
Elamroussi, Aya. "One of NJ's Oldest Buildings Is for Sale." Jersey Journal 8 September 2018.
Maher, Jake. "Historic Harm: Newkirk House, JC's Oldest Building, Tagged by Graffiti." Jersey Journal 13 July 2022.
Winfield, Charles H. History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey. New York: Kennard and Hay, 1874.