Food & Drink

East Brunswick: The History of Patrick's Corner

Cider-maker Charles Szabo at the mill in 1949 Credits:
Manning Patrick's buddy followed him to local bars. Credits:
Saturday night dances were held at the picnic grove Credits:
The cider House on Riva Avenue Credits:

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - One would never think for a second that East Brunswick could ever be a resort town, but before all the housing developments filled the township, that was the case. One example was Patrick’s Corner, located along Riva Avenue and fronting Farrington Lake. This was an area of East Brunswick that attracted out-of-towners who wanted a nice getaway in the countryside. The most prominent residents within the community were the Patrick Family, who owned and operated their cider mill and dining grove. This article will not only be focusing on the family and area of the township, but also how its residents had to deal with the association of its namesake.

The name "Patrick’s Corner" comes from the Manning Patrick family. Patrick was born on January 28, 1888, to Henry and Fredricka P. Mueller Patrick. Both had emigrated from Germany and settled in this area around 1868. Patrick Sr. had originally operated a saw mill in that part of town. He also ran the ticket office for the trolley service that went through the area. His son, Manning Patrick Jr. was what some described as “quite a character.” He started getting into cider-pressing around 1914. At that time, he sold 50 gallon barrels for 50 cents.

Despite prohibition, Patrick was still able to make money with his cider business. Once it was repealed, however, he was able to promote his apple brandy in local newspapers, where it really began to take off. He held a liquor license from the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control of the State of New Jersey from March 21, 1934, until June 30, 1941. He had his own brand of bottled apple brandy which he called “Patrick’s Apple Brandy.” He had apples delivered to him from all over New Jersey, as well as from New York and even Virginia. At the time, a pint of his 95 proof apple brandy (a year old) cost $1.00, $1.90 for a quart, $7.00 a gallon, and $22.50 for an entire case. It took 700 pounds of apples to make one barrel of cider. Aside from his famous cider, he also sold wine, whiskey, beer, rum, etc.

Sign Up for E-News

 Around his farm, he tendered various animals from pigs, wild ducks, chickens, cows, and even deer that he brought all the way from Michigan. Those deer were also big fans of his apple brandy and could be found drinking from the bottle. However, some of those deer managed to escape his farm and went off into the wild (now you know why there is so many deer in this town). His wife, Theresa Patrick, ran Patrick’s Grove and was best known for her clam chowder that people came all over for, and she took that recipe right to her grave. Patrick’s Corner was also a big draw for out-of-towners who wanted leisurely relaxation in the countryside near the lake. People came to this area from all over the state, some even as far as New York and Pennsylvania.

 The Patricks of Patrick Corner proved to be very influential in the community, but they did very little to improve the quality of life for the other residents. At the time, there were about 350 people living in this small part of town. Riva Avenue was a dirt country road with no electricity. Kerosene lamps and wood stove heat were their only means of power.

When the two-room Lawrence Brook schoolhouse was aging and becoming too overcrowded, the residents fought tooth and nail for a new school building. The Patricks, however, used their wealth and power to block the move for a new school. However, the residents persisted and succeeded with the construction of what would become Weber School (now the St. Mary’s Christian Academy). The experience left a bad taste with the community, many of whom did not want hear the Patrick name again. By the mid-1920s, through the action of the Lawrence Brook Welfare Association, the community became Brookview, while Patrick’s Corner would be limited to just the Patrick property. With this new move, the community was finally able to receive electricity for all.

By the early 1940s, thing were not going well for the Patrick family. In 1940, a fire destroyed a third of their property, including their bottling plant, bungalow, and garage. About five months later, another fire destroyed their six-room bungalow and the distillery machinery that made the cider. By this time, Patrick had run into problems with the law. In 1943, he and his wife were arrested on charges of operating an illicit still and illegal possession of untaxed liquors. They were sentenced to two years probation. The cider mill was turned over to the Milltown Distilling Corporation. Not long after that, it became the property of Sidney Braunstein of the Pearl Distilling Company. By 1947, production was halted.

Manning Patrick passed away on January 25, 1949, leaving his entire estate to his wife. Not long after his passing, his wife then married Charles Szabo, who temporarily revived the former cider mill, before it became inactive permanently in 1951.

The structures stood abandoned for many years. It was not until the 1980s when the last of the cider mill structures was gone for good, leaving little left of the original Patrick’s Corner mill structures. Manning’s wife passed away in 1996 at 98 years old. Today, the Patrick’s Corner area is still a lively community. The Estate at Farrington Lake now sits in the place of Patrick’s Grove. The lake is as picture perfect now as it was nearly a century ago.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

"Itʼs Time for New Leadership" Say Middlesex County Republicans

May 22, 2018

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ  - On Tuesday, June 12th, elected county committee members of the Middlesex County Republican Organization will have a choice on who will be their next County Chair and party executive board.

Sharon D. Hubberman, former Middlesex County Freeholder Candidate, and current Perth Amboy Republican Chair has announced she will accept her nomination for the ...

East Brunswick Public Library Launches “EB Grow” Seed Library

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Every spring, library customers visit East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) to find resources on how to garden. Thanks to a joint partnership between East Brunswick Public Library and the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, gardeners will be able to get some “seed money” to start their first crops for the year.

The ...

East Brunswick Public Library Holds “Coping With Aging Parents" Workshop

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) hosts the special program “Coping With Aging Parents” on Wednesday, May 30 at 7:15 pm.

Led by counselor Tara Arhakos, this program is for care-givers of aging parents, a task that can impact both emotionally and physically. It can be extremely overwhelming to raise children, help grandchildren ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

Letter to the Editor: "We Seek Clarity, Support" from Mayor Regarding Development on Summerhill Road

May 10, 2018

Dear Mayor Cohen:  

Thank you.  Your issued statement last night regarding the current development plans for the intersection of Summerhill and Old Stage Roads - which will be under discussion at the May 17 zoning board meeting in East Brunswick, is a welcome voice. 

Like you, we have a vision for East Brunswick and share your desire for smart redevelopment that ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...