Category Archives: Montclair Neighborhoods

Potter Ct Tree Lighting – Upper Montclair

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.

Refreshments for the Tree Trimming
Santa Pooch
Hot Cocoa stand
Hot Cocoa stand
And the tree is up
Potter Court in December
Potter Court in December

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!

Trimmed with red bows
Trimmed with red bows
Shiny and Bright!
Shiny and Bright!
Potter Ct at Night
Potter Ct at Night

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Spooky Gallery – Halloween 2015

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!

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It’s (Block) Party Time! – South End

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.

Road Block

Memorial Decor

Memorial Day Table

Block party 2015


Unicycle Anyone?
Unicycle Anyone?


Front Yard Swimming





Block Party 2015

Sidewalk Chalk

Party 2015




Hudson on 4 wheeler

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Walnut Street Welcomes Montclair – Central Montclair

Two weeks ago Friday marked the first day of May in Montclair and the start of a busy town calendar. With the first day of the Montclair Film Festival on Friday, and Glen Ridge Avenue and Walnut Street fairs, the town was bustling and the sun was shining. Welcome to Walnut street, a street festival just 3 years young, took place on Saturday May 2nd and successfully captured the vibe of one of my favorite neighborhoods and food destinations in town. I’ll be honest, it’s taken me so long to write this because instead of enjoying everything this street fair had to offer, interviewing vendors, and taking great photos, I was experiencing this fair with my family. Experiencing something with your family when you have a 4 year-old and an almost 2 year-old is kind of like trying to “experience” your wedding day. You have people (in this case tiny humans) pulling you in different directions while really cool things happen around you and you attempt to taste really good food, but end up watching other people (in this case tiny humans) eat the food instead. And someone always ends up melting down or falling asleep. So I will attempt to paint a picture, although I have to admit that my experience was somewhat limited because we had the nap time clock ticking from the moment we arrived.

We arrived on Walnut Street on a perfectly beautiful day with the boy in  his stroller and the  4 year-old pushing the stroller into the street. My wife bribed our daughter with a donut because for some reason, a street fair didn’t sound fun to her that day. So of course the first thing we had to do was get a donut. As we entered Walnut street, I started drooling over the beautiful art, antiques, and other cool vintagey items that I had to walk quickly by, so we could get the 4 year-old her donut. We immediately recognized friends outside the Montclair Baby location and stopped to chat.

Poofy Organics Table

Montclair Baby Walnut Street Fair

But of course after 5 minutes we were reminded of donuts and Montclair Bread had a genius donut decorating table for the kids. So not only did my kids get a donut, but they got to do something interactive. Here are some kiddos decorating donuts in front of Montclair Bread.

Montclair Bread Donut Decorating Donut Decorating at Montclair Bread

She finally got her donut. She had to wait a whole 5 minutes. The torture…

Donut Eating

Her brother ate his donut in 10 seconds and wanted another while she was still taking dainty little bites.

Boy Eating Donut

But there was so much more than donuts. Walnut Street really has become a destination for food. With Gina’s, Montclair Bread, Le Salbuen, Red Eye Cafe, Corso 98, Mac Attack, Babo Teahouse, and the long-standing Egan and Sons and Halcyon, all in a three block stretch, Walnut Street has become dense with fine foods and rich flavors.

Le Salbuen Sampling

In addition to permanent food options, Walnut Street hosts the weekly Montclair Farmer’s Market, which opens the door to even more fresh food and of course, food trucks!

I spent a good 15 minutes in the taco line and lost my family. Good thing for me, I ran into friends and then eventually reunited with my family. Also, good, the tacos from Taqueria Autentica (taco truck)!

Taco Truck!

There were also crafts and activities for kids that were really fun and entertaining, but I have no photos because I was chasing my children and eating tacos in the kid zone. My daughter painted a rock and helped create some weird sculpture-like thing with big sticks. I was able to grab a bubble tea from Babo on my way out and sample delicious cake from Gina’s, as my son was fading and whining for his nap.

Welcome to walnut food sampling

Walnut Street is a special place in a special town. My favorite thing about this whole experience is the sense of community I feel when I go to these events. My friend Stephanie and  her husband Logan actually told me they had a bet going on to see if they could guess the number of people they would know at Welcome to Walnut Street. She guessed more than 9.5, which was their betting number, and he said less. Well their final count was 21! I love this because Montclair really is a small enough town where you actually see people you know on a regular basis. But it’s also large enough to have something for everyone and large enough to meet and see new and interesting people all the time. It may have been a bit of a whirlwind with the kids, but I’m so glad they had the opportunity to attend this event and I’m glad they will have so many more opportunities to attend town events in the future. This is a town where so many people are welcome and where the town embraces community and variety and makes you feel like everyone is a part of it.

I would say that Welcome to Walnut was a success. I thoroughly enjoyed attending this event with my family. And I loved watching my kids absorb everything that was going on around them. But, there were things, like the “poem ladies” (photo below) as I call them, that I would have loved to wait in line for, if I had a bit more time that day.

Poem Ladies

Music on WalnutWelcome to Walnut Street

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Neighborhood Banners – Montclair

The banners of Montclair, much like banners found in small towns across the United States, hang from our vintage style light posts and flank the streets of our town. They are charming, they are advertising, they map neighborhoods, they communicate, and they display local pride. I love these banners because they display artistic flare and are created to be visually appealing. The eye-catching logos inspired me to start photographing them over a year ago. I originally thought this would be a photo only post, but the more I thought about and researched the role of banners in our community, the more I realized the importance of them. Banners play a vital role in the movement to support small businesses and revitalize small towns in the US. They help bring us together through advertising community and small business events. And as Jay Jensen points out in his article “A New Era of Street Pole Banners,” they have the unique ability to merge old with new and historic with modern (another theme emerging in my blog posts), by displaying hashtags, wifi hotspots, and other forms of modern communication.

So why are banners important and why do they work in Montclair?And most importantly, why on earth am I writing about them? Well, I find these banners to be just one more ingredient that make this town beautiful and unique. They are particularly important to our town because they advertise local events and label each neighborhood on the bottom of each individual banner. The neighborhood labels tie into the purpose of this blog; to explore our neighborhoods and how each area has it’s own unique vibe within the town of Montclair . The Montclair Film Festival banners are displayed all over town right now, but if you look closely you will find, ” Montclair Center,” “Uptown,” “South End,””Watchung Plaza,” and “Walnut Street” marked at the bottom of each banner in that neighborhood. Our street pole banners are helping to define our neighborhoods and reflect the uniqueness of each individual section of town. They reflect our local pride and draw locals and visitors to participate in town events, to shop at local stores, and to eat at local restaurants. Street Pole banners are particularly effective in Montclair because our town has so many walkable commercial areas and our community enjoys being on foot. Art, charm, celebration, and community are what I think of when I walk down the streets of Montclair and see the most recent event advertised on a light pole. I hope you enjoy these photographs and the next time you walk through town, stop to take a look.

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The Lips of Stanford Place

24 Stanford Place
Photography By Brian Zehowski

Getting to know the side streets and neighborhoods of Montclair is one of my favorite things about working in real estate. But my love for Stanford Place began even before my clients purchased a home there. It began years ago when my wife and I were driving home from dinner and I decided to make a right turn off Grove. We ended up back tracking when we saw a pair of large red lips hanging from the exterior of a home. We laughed and thought it was cool. We snapped photos on our phones and drove away. But it was definitely intriguing. I wondered who lived in the home and where the lips came from. So, for the Montclairians that have always wondered, I finally got some answers from one of the lovely homeowners of “the lips house.”

The owners purchased the home in 2008.  The homeowner told me  he enjoys life in Montclair, “especially because it’s a community that embraces diversity and celebrates creativity.”  When I asked him where they got the lips, he told me, “we got the lips on a whim while browsing a store that specializes in fiberglass sculptures…. They were a lot more affordable than the life-size giraffe that first caught our eye as we were driving by.” “We like quirky accessories because they’re fun. The lips gave our home a face, transforming the 2nd floor windows into eyes.  It’s like our house is watching benevolently over the street. One added bonus is that the lips make a lot of people smile. ” This is so true, I know I smile every time I drive by the home. I’ve always been an art lover and I’ve always loved the touches of art and inspiration in this town. Among the well manicured lawns and pristine homes, there are flags and scarecrows and sculptures. For every 5 homes that blend into the background, there is a home painted purple or turquoise.  This is a town with personality and heart.  Our town is a reflection of our community and what a beautiful place it is. I am truly grateful for “the lips” and I sincerely thank the homeowners who were creative enough to give their house a face.

In case you haven’t had the privilege of seeing them in person, here are some photographs.

24 Stanford Place
Photography by Brian Zehowski


Photograph Courtesy of Homeowner


Photograph Courtesy of Homeowner


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The Horse of Harrison Ave

This horse makes my kids and I so happy when we drive or walk by it. Today he (name?) is sporting a fashionable plaid coat.image


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Olive That and More! – Upper Montclair

Olive That and More Storefront -Hearts


Happy Valentine’s Day! One of the things I LOVE about Montclair is the fact that I don’t have to leave town to shop, eat, or play. One of my  very favorite stores for both gifts and practical cooking needs is Olive That and More in Upper Montclair. I never thought I would actually crave olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but this store has me hooked. This store is family run and the owners will inspire you to try their products in new ways. I will be dipping some strawberries in their chocolate balsamic today for sure! If you like to cook or even eat, this store is essential. It was recently voted Best Storefront/Window for 2015! in the Best of Essex poll and the interior of the store is equally inviting. When I think of an artisanal food store, I don’t always think kid-friendly, but the store owners of Olive That and More  have young children themselves and will welcome your whole family when you come in the door. They even have a toy bin for the kids and a bench for parents to sit and take a breather. It’s a great place to  pop into when you’re getting off the train or shopping in Upper Montclair.

I also have to say that a huge part of the charm of this store is that it’s family run and owned by Jennifer and Steve, individuals who not only want to sell their product, but bring the community together. They host events, cooking workshops, and recently even a chocolate tasting at their store. Montclair draws such warm, interesting people, said store owner Jennifer, we enjoy getting to know everyone. People are drawn to olive oil for very different reasons, it may be a memory of home cooked meals, but it can also be for healthful benefits, weight loss, or incorporated into beauty routines and daily care. People are always coming in to share their personal stories with us about friends and family. When I asked Jennifer why they chose Montclair and their Upper Montclair neighborhood for the store she said, So many of the residents of Montclair are self-proclaimed foodies, home chefs, and have a commitment to a healthy lifestyle and shopping local, it seemed like a perfect setting. After visiting several locations around Montclair, karma took over and we were presented with our current location – The Garden Shop at 246 Bellevue Avenue,  the aesthetic created by the previous shop owner provided inspiration for the store’s decor. Close to the train station, Valley Road, Bellevue Theater, and Anderson Park, we couldn’t have designed a better spot for a store that invites individuals to come in and taste the flavors of the world. We always wanted the store to be an extension of our home, from the bench out front, to the dining room table as the centerpiece, complete with a toy chest for kids–we wanted you to feel comfortable here, an invited guest.  In addition to that, we wanted Olive That and More to be a place where you might want to gather with friends and share stories that you would share over good food….travels, recipes, health, history.

Store Owners, Jennifer O’Sullivan and Steve Lehrhoff


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Because We Heart Montclair

Happy almost Valentine’s Day Why I Love Montclair followers! Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a perfect day for sharing love. I think about my love for this community all the time. I think about how fortunate we are to have this place and this community. I think about how many other blogs there are about this area and how I love reading them. I think about how lucky I am when I’m getting coffee at Montclair Bread and run into someone I know, or when I see an amazing film at the Montclair Film Festival, then walk to Pig and Prince for excellent food, drinks, and ambiance. I could go on and on, but that’s what this blog is for. Each post will feature something I love from a Montclair Neighborhood. Each post will include a description of the neighborhood in the title. There will also be at least one photo or video to accompany every post. I really hope this can be a place for people who don’t live here to see and feel our town, for those who do live here to embrace it, and for those who once lived here to become nostalgic for it. I know those are some big goals. I hope to eventually build separate categories for each neighborhood to really get a feel for the town and all of it’s parts. When you have a town that is so special with such a sense of community, it’s difficult to summarize what it’s all about it in one word, so I asked some citizens of Montclair (on a town social media page) to describe what they love about our town in one word. Here are some of the responses. Thank you so much for all who contributed. I was truly blown away by the number of amazing comments (165 and counting)!

Here is what Montclair residents said they love about Montclair:
“spectrum, urban, community, food, restaurants, location, art, people, eclectic, bikeable, walkable, village, visually appealing, open-minded, welcoming, commute, diverse, parks, beautiful, kid-friendly, possibilities, home, liveliness, Victorians, history, memories, Eagle Rock Reservation, EVOO, culture, swagger, pride, real, cosmopolitan, friendly, dynamic, shopping, energetic, hip, cool, sidewalks, smart, accepting, substance, artsy, intelligent, quaint, friends, classy, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (this was one of my favorites), activities, Mommies, integrity, voice, enlightening, entertaining, variety, creative, family, pleasant, architecture, Je-ne-sais-quoi, trees, amusing, soul, inclusive, developing, depth, possibilities, collaborative, optimism”

– 165 Citizens of Montclair

I leave you with some LOVEly Montclair storefronts.


Pedal Montclair with hearts
Pedal Montclair with hearts


Montclair Bread Valentine Doughnuts Photograph by Nat Chitwood
Montclair Bread Valentine Doughnuts
Photograph by Nat Chitwood
Church Street Hearts at Raymonds
Church Street Hearts at Raymond’s
Heart Window-Rock, Paper, Scissors
Rock, Paper, Scissors – Heart


Olive That and more – Heart Window



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Watchung Scarecrow February


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