The History of Jorgensen’s Inn Stockholm, NJ

Jorgensens Inn
Postcard Image of Jorgensen’s Inn in Stockholm, NJ
Prior to 1948, Lewis’ Hillside Villa was a Popular Roadside Attraction that would become Jorgensen’s Inn

Long time residents of the area may recall Jorgensen’s Inn, the large rambling country restaurant that served bounteous American fare in six antique‐filled dining rooms. It will be remembered as an attractive setting for travelers, skiers and local residents to relax and enjoy a leisurely dinner. In its heyday during the late 60s thru the early 80s Jorgensen’s was a far cry from the hot dog stand on the old Hamburg‐Paterson Turnpike that first bore the name – Lewis’ Hillside Villa over 90 years ago. To fully appreciate the history that led to Jorgensen’s, one has to return to around 1926, when George W. Lewis, son of James M. and Josephine Sisco Lewis, acquired a parcel of land formerly owned by Frances M. and George J. Rude.

George Lewis Installed One of the Early Gas Pumps for Motorist on Route 8 (Present Day State Highway No. 23)

This property was north of the lands of William G. Walker. George had a very spacious three-story frame dwelling built upon the land. His wife, Anne, soon created colorful gardens around the front of the house. George was a very industrious man who had visions of creating a complex to continue operating his repair shop and open a restaurant to accommodate tourists. With the advent of the automobile, Stockholm and the surrounding area was increasing in popularity as a destination for motorists traveling on Route 8. (present day State Highway No. 23) George systematically increased the size of the complex and in 1927, he purchased the Walker home and had it moved to his growing conglomerate of buildings. When the Patriotic Order Sons of America Hall property was sold to the City of Newark, he purchased that hall and had it moved to his growing enterprise.

After the careful footprint of structures was assembled, the repair shop and motorcycle garage was established in the renovated hall. George had gasoline pumps installed as this was becoming a need not only for the community, but to accommodate the many tourists who came through the area. It was the only gasoline pump in the vicinity between Franklin and Newfoundland. The complex also contained a general store and post office. The Post Office was moved from the old store in Stockholm to this site; Lewis was Post Master from Oct. 12, 1914, until his death in 1945. George also opened a restaurant on the site which became a popular attraction not only for the community but for the tourist trade and christened the operation with the name: Lewis’ Hillside Villa

Early Postcard from Lewis’ Hillside Villa Circa 1930

Over many years of operation, improvements were made to the buildings. A picnic area, tennis court and swimming pool were added to complex. For many years, the businesses were successful; and he advertised by having postcards made. From the Walther Postcard Collection is this undated postcard. George Walther Lewis was born Dec. 6, 1885 and died Dec. 10, 1945. He married on June 15, 1909, Anna E. Gormley, born Aug. 9, 1886, died Aug. 22, 1974. Both were buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Butler. They had three children: Leon W., Llawayne M., and Gerard C. Lewis.

George Lewis
1909 Wedding Photograph of George and Anna Lewis. Courtesy of Leon Lewis

Leon Walther Lewis, born Apr. 10, 1911 married on Sept. 17, 1938, Rosa B. Milan, born Mar. 26, 1918. He was an electrician and TV repairman. They lived in Lake Stockholm. Their children were: Georgeanna, born Sept. 25, 1941, married, later divorced, James Fernandez, their children were Lisa A., and Raymond L. Fernandez; Rita M., born June 1, 1945, married George D. Wildrick Sr., their children were George D. Wildrick Jr. and Jennifer; and Rosemary, born July 2, 1947, married Thomas H. Davies, Sr., and their children were Thomas H. Davies, Jr. and Patricia L. Davies. The author had several visits with Leon Lewis in February 1977. He graciously shared his family history and allowed the author to make copies from the family photo collection.

Llawayne Marie Lewis, born May 4, 1912, married Daniel Dietz, born Sept. 24, 1912 and their children were: Daniel Jr., Donald and Diann M. Dietz. Gerard Clifford Lewis, born May 27, 1913, married Alameda Flood born Apr. 10, 1918, they had no children. They lived at Lake Stockholm. Gerard C. Lewis provided a family tree of the Lewis family.

After George Lewis’ death, Anna sold the restaurant business to Mr. and Mrs. Martin McDonough in March 1946. Gerard Lewis served in World War II, and returned to Stockholm on June 21, 1948. He purchased the garage business from the McDonough’s. Gerard successfully operated the business until 1966 when he sold it to Ray Fowler. The title then passed to Richard Jorgensen. The Jorgensen’s remodeled the entire complex that was to be used solely as a restaurant. The restaurant has had successive owners who operated the restaurant.

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© 2018 Beth Willis/ & The Family of Leon Lewis. Images & Text may not be reproduced without the permission of the author

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30 Comments

  1. Hello Beth,
    I grew up in Lake Stockholm and have a copy of the lake history that Georgeanne Lewi Fernandez put together in powerpoint. I recently shared this with some of the current lake residents to continue on with the lakes history and they were wanted to contact her for a community event they were planning. Would you know how to contact Georgeanna? Could you share that information?
    Regards
    Frank

  2. I worked at Jorgenson back in 76-77…as a saladmaker! Oh the stuff that went on in that kitchen, and what a horny old goat the owner was…

    1. I bussed tables there around 1970-71. Louella Parsons, Nancy Bessemer, Carmella Franchino, Loretta Lepke…some of the ladies I remember.

  3. Amazing!I Remember Jorgensens as a kid in the 60’s!What a treat to go there! My Dads family had a Bungalow at Green Pond, and they may have been familiar with the old “settlement” since they traveled on the old roads and railroad

    1. Unfortunately Jorgensen’s closed its doors many years ago. It is currently the home of Ricciardi Enterprises, a Construction Services Company out of Fairfield, NJ

      1. I will be listing the property for sale soon! I hope we can find a new owner that will return it to a great restaurant.

  4. We had so much fun at Jorgensons! My deceased huband and I went there many times! We just loved it so much! I hope it is still open!

  5. Our family lived there from 1970- 1981 most of my family lived in Bergen county as kid they would vist us for skiing then off to Jorgensen my sister and I would call the prime rib pillow steak.??

  6. I loved the homey feeling there and they had the best coleslaw, prime rib and peach melba! Many fond memories going there Friday nights with my husband Dave in the 80’s.

  7. We lived in Oak Ridge in the 60s and lunch at Jorgensens was a treat. Fond memories and the first turkey club sandwich I ever had!

  8. I loved Jorgensens. You had a great complete dinner for a great price. It was so homey. The food was delicious. I remember having sherbet in between courses. I believe we had warm apple pie with ice cream.

  9. My uncle bought it and named it victorias after his wife. He is the son of greek diner/ restaurant owners like the balcony restaurant in hawthorne nj. It was victorias until they moved to florida and sold it.

  10. My husband of 50 years and I got engaged there on my birthday in 1971. He passed recently. Wonderful to see this photo after all those years.

  11. Jorgensen was a fantastic place to eat and just hearing its name brought back so many awesome memories of dinners there with my family

  12. My beautiful girlfriend, Carolyn, and I took her Mother there for dinner. This was in 1971. Carolyn had just graduated high school. It was a celebration. I recall her Mom had the duck!

  13. Richard Jorgensen was a great brother to Arthur in Maywood, NJ. Arthur was a great employer and a wonderful person and friend to me. He taught me so much that made me who I am today. He advised me to support my country and I went on to the Army and Vietnam. I will never forget Arthur or Richard. My friends for ever.

      1. I started dating my wife to be the beginning of 1980 and remember vividly going there in the early ‘80s.
        It was a special high priced treat, my brother and I used to say “ where’s the owners manual “ for the prime rib.

      2. No, it was open way after that. We took my son and his future in laws there. He was born in 1980 and engaged right after college. Not sure of the dates, but you can figure it out. We loved it too. We’d go there with our friend Cleo and her husband Bobby. She was so stuffed, she had to loosen her belt on the way home. All for $14.95.

  14. Ohhh! Jorgensons Food & Grog! What great memories and food! Went there for the last time 1993 before it closed. There are just not places like that anymore. Ed Zabars in wildwood NJ was another one!

  15. I worked at Jorgensen’s from 1971-74. I started as a busboy, then became a cook. I was head cook from the summer of 1971 to the summer of 1972. I went off to college after that but worked weekends (all of them) until I left in the summer of 1975. I’ve lived in California since 1983 but on a visit to family in NJ in 2018 I went to back to see the place. It had beed closed for years but was still recognizable. Overall, it was a good job for me at that time and gave me an appreciation for cooking and good food that has stayed with me throughout my life. So I feel grateful for having had the experience. But there was a dark side. Dick Jorgensen was a decent guy to work for but he was also terribly racist, especially toward Jews and Italians, but also all non-whites. Perhaps he wasn’t this way publicly, but with people who worked closely with him he did not hold back on expressing his hatreds, and he was contemptuous of anyone who saw things differently. I did not share his views but avoided expressing this out of fear of being fired, which often made my work experience very uncomfortable. And I don’t remember one single non-white person working there turn my four year tenure.

  16. Jorgensons closed in the early 2000s. At that time it was only opened on thursdays-sundays for dinner. That was a fantastic restaurant. Truly an iconic establishment

  17. Jorgensen’s, Lake Stockholm, NJ.
    1974-1977.

    I have so many memories between 1974-1977. I was a very young (high school) chef in a high quality, well apportioned, open front room grills and hearths.
    Decades later, I took that experience and pushed forward throughout my professional life.
    Yes, Rich Jorgensen and his wife were very hard to work with.

    I’ve tried for years to get in touch with my best friend/chef mentor/high school friend – Carl Rudolph and his waitress sister Karen Rudolph.
    Does anyone have a lead on my inquiry?

    Rob Reilly
    Strongsville, Ohio

    United Airlines pilot (37 yrs).

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