S U N S E T   C A B I N

Lost, yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever --Horace Mann

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Peterson's Sunset Cabin, Lakewood, New Jersey

explored & photographed by: Shady

Route 9 South, Lakewood... Peterson's Sunset Cabin (World Famous! according to the sign)... a thoroughly vacant, dying old restaurant that sits next a railroad crossing overlooking a still, silvery lake

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

I was driving down 9 when I remembered this really forlorn looking place nearby, and I happened to have my camera with me, so we swung into the parking lot to check it out. It was freezing cold as we explored the grounds. The signs are faded and the paint is peeling on this big, rambling, rust-red log cabin structure... the parking lot is desolate and dotted with oily puddles. As you can see (pic, above right), this building was just officially declared VACANT (life hazards may exist???!!)

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Once-charming striped awnings still shade the broken, boarded up windows and doors. The bitterly cold wind stabbed at us as we walked around the quiet place; I didn't have any gloves with me, and my fingers were so cold it was tricky to operate the camera. The Cabin is huge and multi-leveled, it actually looks like it was a great place when it was open. You can easily imagine the sounds of music, laughter and clinking silverware drifting out of the building and echoing off of a silent lake lit reddish-orange by sunset, thus probably giving the place it's name...

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Around back, it gets considerably creepier, as the looming building blocks out the sunlight and throws the whole area into shadow. Scraggly trees from the woods out back reach their bony limbs toward the restaurant, which is littered with with debris, including the skeletal fish head above (that's actually it's carcass you can see lying at the foot of the stairs, pic above,  left) A forbidding cage-like veranda runs around part of the upper floor.

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

Lost Destinations::Sunset Cabin

By the time we jumped back into the Lady, we were frozen. It was a cool place to explore, though. It doesn't seem that this once majestic old restaurant will be opening it's doors again anytime soon, though, if ever- if the condemning signs posted around the place are any indication... how very unfortunate. I wish we could have seen this majestic place in it's heyday...

Gene sent in these memories about Peterson's Sunset Cabin, "This was a family style restaurant. It was famous for its charcoal chicken among other very good dishes. Everything was served family style. You walked into the bar area and behind was a huge room with row upon row of tables. At the end of the room was a giant open BBQ pit where all the dishes were cooked. You could watch your meal being cooked. They gave out balloons to the kids. It main clientele were family and older couples. It was my mothers favorite place when it was opened. I don't know when it closed but it has been several years."

Dave from California sent in these fond recollection, "We went to Petersons often during the 60s and early 70's. It was the kind of place you dressed up to go to even if you were at the shore. My favorite dish was the Lobster Newberg, it was served in these nifty little silver serving trays - wonder if any of those are rusting inside somewhere? I remember going out and walking around the lake while my parents and grandparents had coffee and desert... Petersons will always be one of my favorite places, as a matter of fact I found your great site while trying to find out if it was still in business... so sad its gone!"

Our visitor Todd wrote, "Shady... Like Dave, I too found your site searching for Peterson's Sunset Cabin. In the mid 90's I was new to NJ. I was wandering around looking for things lost when I stumbled on Peterson's. It was still going, but looked like it was nearing the end. My wife and I liked the sound of a "sunset cabin" and we stopped for dinner. We were seated in a ballroom. I remember a large charcoal pit at the end of the room. There should have been a man in a big chef's hat charbroiling steaks,  but alas it was abandoned. There was an organist!  I almost didn't notice her: the organ was perched on the island in the middle of the ancient looking bar. I remember the manager (owner?) talking to his only other patrons,   telling them how to run a restaurant. I'm sorry he wasn't able to survive."

And Virtual Scoob Katia tells us, "I remember Peterson's Sunset Cabin in Lakewood, YEARS ago, when it was in it's prime. It was a nice family place, steaks, chicken, char-grilled...The area around the "Cabin" became a prime example of neighborhood blight and decay and Lakewood was no longer a fashionable place to visit. Add to the problems of a diminished attraction--there was a contamination problem (petroleum leakage) blamed on a neighboring gas station. The owners of Peterson's claimed there was a distinct smell of gas in the restaurant, although this wasn't substantiated by a legal claim. The place just closed, forlorn and empty and it rots in it's place, slowly and sadly. It has become a congregating place for the strange multitudes who live in the wooded areas and wander by night on all the inroads and back lots of Route 9 everywhere. That's the story!"

Thanks for sharing your memories with us, you guys. I was surprised to gear that Peterson's was around so long ago! It is really sad that such a nice place, with so many good memories for so many people, is empty and abandoned now. Our friend Trish also remembers seeing the old Sunset Cabin when it was open. Although she never had the chance to dine there before it was closed down, she told me that the parking lot was packed every time she passed it and she always wanted to go there, as it seemed like a really neat place. As I showed her my pictures, we both commented how sad it was that it was closed. Trish also remembered hearing that there was some sort of "gas" leak or contamination that forced the restaurant to close. This rings true, as there is an abandoned gas station cordoned off with yellow tape just across the train tracks, right next to Peterson's. Perhaps a gas leak of some sort caused the closing of both places, and is the "life hazard" referred to on the posted vacant notices all over the building??

Do you have any background information or stories to tell about this vacant site?

Another Route 9 Roadside Find! For even more, check out Trippin' On 9

 

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