When I first visited Montclair I fell in love with the houses. Driving down the tree-lined streets, seeing house after house, I was immediately charmed with every Colonial, Victorian, and Craftsman detail. The diversity, charm, and history of the homes in Montclair make this town unique. Each its own size and style, many updated, and some preserved, all with care and pride of ownership. Once I finally became the owner of my very own Montclair home, built in 1934, I became curious about what it looked like when it was built, how people lived in it, and who lived in it. I have often wondered if there was a way to dig into my home’s past. So when my wife told me she signed us up to learn about our home’s history, I was thrilled.
It turns out, there are dozens of online and in person resources available to Montclair residents, to help you uncover your home’s history. You may have heard of places like the Montclair History Center, but maybe didn’t know where or how to begin. I didn’t either, which is why I was so excited to attend a class led by the Montclair Public Library, Montclair Historic Preservation Commission, and Montclair History Center.
During the class we learned how to search the library for photos, old deeds, old maps, and files. And if you are like me, and love looking at old archival photos, you will be as amazed as I was to check out this exciting online resource. The Montclair Public library has a “Historic Image Database” that anyone can access on the internet by going to http://www.montclairlibrary.org/. The key is typing your search in quotes. So if you live on Grove St, be sure to type in “Grove St.” Not every home is in the database, but there are plenty of other resources to find your home’s history. There is an entire history room in the library dedicated to Montclair and the librarians are happy to help. One interesting fact I learned about my home was that the original property it sat on was much larger and was eventually subdivided to build two more homes. I discovered this fact by looking at the Sanborn insurance maps (photographed below) from 1934, which happens to be the exact year my home was built. It was thrilling in a nerdy way. I was also able to look into the land and home’s original owners through deeds and I was able to look through files by name to research the “social history” of the home. Whatever your questions may be, there are an abundance of resources and people who are available to help. And if you don’t feel like playing detective, you can put in a research request with the Montclair History Center and have a researcher do it for you. There are photos, maps, and records of your Montclair home that are accessible to anyone with curiosity.
I am truly amazed by the efforts, care, and time that the Montclair Public Library, Montclair Historic Preservation Commission, and Montclair History Center have taken to preserve the history of our homes and continue to help us uncover and document the history of the land, structures, and those who occupy them. This is one more reason why I love Montclair.
Montclair Resource Guide (provided by the presenters)
Montclair Historic Preservation Commission
•Interactive map of Montclair’s historic house inventory is available.
•Historic Preservation Element of the
Master Plan of Montclair.
Montclair Public Library
•Local History Room, which includes historic deed abstracts,
tax and county maps.
•Historic image database online at
Montclair History Center
•Collection of tax and county maps,
photographs, Dudley Van Antwerp photograph collection, and telephone directories
.• Finding Aids available online for browsing parts of our collections
Helpful Brochure on Researching:
Hello Why I Love Montclair followers. Here is another peice of my story. If you’d like to continue reading, you can subscribe at www.whyilovemontclairrealestate.com
I’m excited to announce my spinoff blog, Why I Love Montclair Real Estate.
Source: My Real Estate Journey Bloomfield to Montclair
Mary Sobers-Levitt you won a box of local Montclair treats!
Now you can enjoy cooking a gourmet dinner with olive oil and artisianal salts, eating your chocolates and a Montclair Bread doughnut with a mug of something hot, while redesigning your home and having photos taken of it 😉
And “Walnut Street Welcomes Montclair” won favorite Montclair article. Thank you for all the votes, shares and comments!
Almost one year and 29 posts later, I am so grateful for my readers and friends who encouraged me to keep this blog going. It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I want to show you all how much I appreciate you and how much I love being a part of this community. So let’s play a game! Here’s how to play. There are 2 ways to enter your name, but only one winner.
How to Play:
1. I have chosen 11 articles and pasted links below. Vote for your favorite article by writing the name of the article in the comments section and you will be entered into a drawing to win.
2. Share this contest on Facebook and you will be entered a second time.
The winner will be announced on Valentine’s day and will receive a goodie bag filled with all kinds of local treats from Olive That and More and Montclair Bread Co, and gift certificates from Photography by Jennifer and Adriana Smyth Interiors.
A very special thank you to all my readers!
As we approach the New Year, I’m sad to see the holiday season come to an end. It’s such a beautiful sight to see all our neighborhoods lit up and decorated to celebrate this season. One Montclair block in particular, the cul-de-sac of Potter Ct, where the homes (mostly 1940s side hall colonials) are as quaint as the block itself, embraces the season with their very own tradition. Each year the residents of Potter Ct replace their flagpole (in the center circle of their cul-de-sac) with a tree. The neighbors come out and join together to trim and light the tree and have a little party. There is food, fun, and hot cocoa. Kids play in the street and all are reminded of neighborhood friendships and the beginning of the holiday season. It’s a celebration of Hanukkah, Christmas, and most of all, neighbors.
Stories like this one are why I really love Montclair. As a mother it’s incredibly important to know my neighbors and expose my children to the people around us, people we may not otherwise have the opportunity to know. Getting outside of our homes builds a stronger, safer, and happier community. And I’m happy to live in a place where the residents are not only friendly, but a place where they reach out and come together to establish new traditions. Thank you Potter Ct for sharing your story, your photos, and most of all, for making our town and our holiday a little bit brighter. I hope everyone reading has a wonderful New Year!
Happy Monday! As we feast on leftover candy (yuck), eyes blurry from parties and falling back in time, bellies bloated from too much pizza and beer and sweets, I will leave you with some images from around town this Halloween weekend. If anyone has some great photos, I will be happy to update this post. There was too much spookiness and fun to capture all that this town had to offer this Halloween weekend. Festive doesn’t even begin to explain how much we love our holidays. And a holiday for children of any age, is simply the best, and it’s another reason why I love Montclair!
With Summer around the corner, Montclairians seem to be coming out of hibernation and literally partying in the streets. One great American tradition this town embraces is the block party. And I’m lucky enough to live in a house I love, on a block I love, in a town I love, that participates in this tradition.
Like many, we looked at our house because it fit our basic criteria and price range. And when we saw it, we ended up falling in love. But we really didn’t know much about the neighborhood. Having come from the North End of Bloomfield, we loved our Bloomfield neighborhood and the people in it. We knew nothing about Graham Terrace or living in the South End of Montclair. But when we moved to our street (nestled between Harrison Ave and Stonebridge Rd, on the Southernmost edge of the Estate Section), we were welcomed with a lovely party, hosted by one of our neighbors and attended by the entire block! And now, two years later, we look forward to kicking off the summer season with the wonderful people on our street at our annual Memorial Day Block Party. My kids woke up so excited to hang with their neighborhood friends, it was like Christmas morning. We even have former residents of this street that continue to attend neighborhood events year after year. These are the friendships that create our community and the friendships that my kids will grow up remembering.
I’d like to say we hit the jackpot, having lived in two neighborhoods that host block parties, but the truth is, this is not a rare occurrence in Montclair. Blocking off the streets and celebrating neighborhood friendships, happens quite often in the warmer months, and happens in every part of town. Here’s a taste of what ours looks like.