Petey Semenick Sr. talks Manville History

Hey everyone. So I’m in the middle of digitally archiving lots of old “original manville residents” interviews. This one with Petery Semenick Sr. is absolutely incredible. Petey surely needs no introduction to Manville folks. For starters, he founded Petey’s bar & Casino, he was a fireman, founding member of the Rod & Gun Club, and original resident before Manville was even a real town. The interview was done by Stuart Crump, former Managing Editor of the Manville news back in March of 1979. Thanks to Petey Semenick Jr. for giving me his blessing on posting this, because it’s incredible.

Petey has a tremendous memory and his narrative of Manville history is amazing. I edited this a little bit, cutting out just the names, addresses, and really personal stuff thats really not anyones business. This interview is pretty long, but it’s a really great look at early Manville. He discusses early JM, Manville Farms, The Manville Gypsies (seriously!), the original Main St. buildings Elmcrest and Greaseheimer hotel (Chester House) Harmony Plains school, all of the Petey’s businesses, bootleg whiskey, the Rod and Gun Club, Fire Co. number 2, instructions on how to craft a baseball from scratch, the Manville Saw Mill (pictured in the video) and so many more random nuggets of great info. It’s totally worth a listen.


Quigley’s Bike Shop

When I was a young boy of an age old enough to venture off my immediate Manville block, I quickly realized that it would be much to my advantage to procure myself a bike. I pleaded my case to my parents and grandparents, and much to my surprise my grandfather quickly responded “Sure we’ll go down to Quigley’s tomorrow”. I think what I was hoping for was one of those little 15″ versions of a BMX bike, but when I got down to Quigley’s that afternoon what I saw scarred the hell out of me. There was a pile of bikes in the middle of the floor 3 times as tall as me. They looked mangled, and most of them bore the name Schwinn. I didn’t understand. I thought we went to the wrong store. But my grandfather assured me that “how dare I question this place… this is QUIGLEY’S. This is THE bike store.” He was right. And quigley’s outlasted every bike store that ever came to Manville, especially in reputation.

Lets’ take a look at a short history of the Quigley family as poached from

When Lester Quigley came to town in 1927 to take on the job of postmaster, his son George came along with the family and opened up his bicycle shop here. Young George had already been in business for a couple of years in Neshanic. His father had let him convert a chicken coop into a shop and had helped him put up a sign along Amwell Road — how else was a boy of 16 going to be taken seriously as a businessman and be able to get credit and buy wholesale. In those days the Manville Post Office was at the Johns-Manville plant. At first it was in A Building, and later the Asbestos Hotel. Lester Quigley in time became J-M employment supervisor, but son George did not want to work there, he kept right on with his bicycles. 

For several years now I have been trying to nail down a timeline for Quigley’s. The store I remember was on Main Street and had been there forever. According to a newspaper article on the shop written in 1979 the store had been on Main Street for 39 years, which would mean he moved over there in ’40. I recently received a collection of photos from 1939, which depict the shop as being on the corner of Knopf and North 6th Ave, on the site which later became Al’s market. For a store that I actually physically remember I’m sad to say that I do not have any photos of the Main St. location. But these photos are great. The video above is from Petey’s Film made around the same time as these photos by the Semenick family. You will notice some characters in these photos are in the film, namely the adorable little girl, who has now been identified as Quigley’s daughter Antoinette! (thanks to the Mizerek family for the help!) Ok. Let’s get to some photos. They will expand if you click on them. Lets start with some shop photos…

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I believe is the man George Quigley himself…

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and finally, Quigley’s daughter Antoinette… who I actually fell in love with after looking at these.

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1st download 4093If anyone can Identify these people please leave a comment. If anyone has any other Quigley’s (or any other Manville photos for that matter) photos, please submit them to These photos were submitted by Anne Sullivan. On behalf of everyone who views this blog, I thank her for these amazing photos.

Petey’s Films • Manville Businesses part 2

Hey all just wanted to continue with the Businesses portion of the Petey’s Films. This one focuses more on the storefront aspect of local stores and such. This one is a great street level view of the young towns thriving shops. Most of you will have heard of some of these places. Enjoy.

Petey’s Films • Manville Businesses

This next episode of Petey’s film’s really strikes a personal chord with me, and not just because it’s about Manville. You all know that I’ve been sharing the old Manville News issues on here thanks to the good graces and help of Kevin Shutack. Kevin’s family owned the local print shop, which produced the town’s first newspapers, which is why he had them laying around all this time. As a graphic designer, part time letterpress printer, and employee at a local newspaper, I was floored at the opening scene of this video being the old Manville News. Now that I’ve spent the year archiving these I get to actually watch them being produced! Not only that, but I get to watch them being printed on a letterpress machine, and using a Linotype machine, old printing methods which I also happen to be in the practice of doing myself as a hobby. Anyway, not to focus too much on one section, this video highlights a few other businesses in the Manville area, including London Fur Dyeing Company, (cigar maker?), liquor store, Lloyd Garment Company (21 South 3rd Ave). As always if anyone can elaborate on these films please leave a comment! Thanks again to Gary Carmon for digitally archiving and sharing these!

Petey’s Films • Random People

This is another film clip from the legendary Petey Semenick film collection. This is another clip transferred off of a VHS tape to digital video by Gary Carmon. I believe a lot of people are familiar with these films, as there were shown frequently at Petey’s bar back in the day. Frankly a lot of these clips are a mystery to both myself and Gary, so if you recognize anyone in the films, please leave a comment. Gary has a lot more great Manville history on his website as well so if you can’t get enough of this head on over there. There will be plenty more of these to come, so stay tuned. And please if you are in or can identify anyone in the videos let us know!

Reflections of Manville

Hey everyone, it’s been awhile since i’ve made a post on here. I want to continue with the great video clip segments, since folks seem to be enjoying them. I’ve mentioned in the previous posts that we owe a tremendous thanks to Gary Carmon for not only uncovering these, but spending his time and money to rescue them from obscurity.  The following clips are from a program called “Reflections of Manville” It’s a show I’ve been hearing about for a few years now, but was unable to see it until today. This is an incredible & formerly lost history of Manville. Great, great stuff. As always I’d love to hear feedback/memories etc.




Vintage Manville Films • Garages

Alright everyone, here is another great film from the collection of Gary Carmon, who has been digitizing and editing an old VHS handed down from Petey Semenick Jr. into these small clips. This one is pretty long in comparison to the previous ones, and it’s of the Manville auto garages. These films might be familiar, as I understand they used to be shown at Petey’s bar in Manville back in the day. There are more of these coming… stay tuned!