Balthasar Kreischer

Balthasar KreischerBalthasar Kreischer was an immigrant from Bavarian, Germany, founding the Kreischer Brick Manufactory in Staten Island. The area in which his successful business impacted the growth of the surrounding area was called Kreischerville. Today, the area is known as Charleston, Staten Island.

On March 13th, 1813, Balthasar Kreischer was born in a small village known as Hornbach in Berschweiler, Germany. His grandfather, Rhenish Prussia, was a manufacture of bricks in Hornbach. Kreischer's education included of him attending school for a short amount of time, then was apprenticed to be a stonecutter and sculptor for his grandfather's business. When he turned twenty-two years old, he was selected with two others to lay the stones of a fortress of Germersheim near a ruined castle of Friedreich's Buhl.

In December 1835, there was a great fire that had occurred in New York which forced emigration to happen. In June 1836, Kreischer had arrived in the city after the chaos that occurred the year before. He immediately received work in rebuilding and aiding people in the burned area.  While in New York, he met and married his wife, Caroline, the daughter of George Haenchen of Hornbach. After his marriage begun, Kreischer accomplishments included becoming a builder with a reputation for being the best builder in the city!

Besides building in New York, he also worked in New Jersey. From there, he then found himself in a partnership with Charles Mumpton, creating the firm Kreischer & Mumpton. However, his partner had died in 1849 and Kreischer could not handle the business on his own. Instead, by 1850, he began chemical work. By 1852, he worked in the manufacture of the ultramarine blue.

Kreischer MansionsBy 1855, he purchased his first land in Staten Island and began plans for retirement. On this land, he built two mansions and the Kreischer Brick Manufactory. The town was later renamed Kreischerville in honor of the successful business impacted the growth of the surrounding area. The area also had its own United States Post Office branch.

Kreischer built a large, asymmetrically massed two and a half story, wood-frame house, styled in Late-Victorian. The house featured verandas, gables with jigsaw bargeboards, decorative railings, tall chimneys and a corner tower. It was one of two mansions built by Kreischer for his two sons, Charles and Edward.

Along with the Kreischerville success, Kreischer was one of the originators of the Staten Island Railway in the 1860s, and by 1865, he purchased clay beds in Woodbridge, New Jersey, as well in areas of Staten Island and Pennsylvania.

Kreischer HouseBalthasar Kreischer died in his mansion on August 25th, 1886. His legacy still lives on you can learn more about him at the Staten Island Museum. One of the mansions burned down. The remaining Kreischer House is at 4500 Arthur Kill Road, at the intersection of Kreischer Street and Arthur Kill Road. The remaining home was renovated by the Staten Island Land Development LLC.

The factory that was located in this area, built in 1854, was also destroyed by a fire in 1877. It was rebuilt, but by 1927, the factory closed its doors for good.

On June 8th, 1894, Kreischer's son, Edward, committed suicide by shooting himself in the temple near the factory. Since the incident, there have been stories and legends that the Kreischer property is haunted. Following, there has been other local stories about violence and mob-relations that have given the house a supernatural reputation. Due to these stories, the location was used on television shows, including HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Today, the home is used to host art and culture events.

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