WESTFIELD, NJ — The home of the municipality’s first town historian has been historically designated, 47 years after his death.
The former residence of town historian John Frazee is the fourth property and second private residence to be proposed for landmark status this year by the Westfield Historic Preservation Commission, the commission announced. The Town Council approved the historic designation Dec. 11.
Frazee purchased the home in 1927 for his family and carefully maintained it until his death in 1972. The property then was sold to a developer, who subdivided it into two building lots.
The home’s current owners, Frank and Carol Nolde, former Westfield schoolteachers, purchased both parcels in 1973 and spent the next 46 years restoring the home. With more than 200 years of property records, the Noldes have also documented the ownership of the home and land from the early foundations of the community.
“John Henry Frazee, noted Westfield town historian, had seen developers destroy a historic house of great architectural importance just across the street from his house in what is now Frazee Court,” the Noldes said in a statement prepared for the Town Council.
“We are confident that Mr. Frazee would have been happy to know that a young couple with two small children and just enough money to buy the house and the front lawn, now a separate building lot, would spend the next 46 years restoring his 1850 house. He would be doubly grateful as are we that the Westfield Historic Preservation Commission and the town of Westfield have recognized the importance of protecting our architectural inheritance.”
Built in 1850 as part of the Scudder and Ross estates, which covered much of the south side of Westfield, the carefully preserved home is both a model of traditional Colonial architecture and a remarkable example of local life in the mid-19th century, according to the Westfield Historic Preservation Commission.
“The Noldes’ home is a beautiful example of period architecture but more importantly the Noldes, as a young couple with teachers’ salaries, made the preservation of not only their home but the entire site a priority,” said Maria Boyes, who chairs the Commission “They purchased both lots and then painstakingly restored their property as they lived in it. I think John Henry Frazee would be proud.”
The house is distinguished by its graceful front porch and Colonial front door with transom and sidelights leading to a wide center hall with 12-foot-high ceilings, according to the HPC. The home retains all its original doors, windows, hardware and molding. Five chimneys serve the homes nine original fireplaces, each with their original marble or wood mantels, the HPC said.
Boyes said the Noldes’ historic designation is among a series, with more anticipated. She pointed to a recent survey by the municipality finding that more than 80% of residents rank historic preservation as “very important.”
“There has been a flurry of activity lately, and we are in conversations with several homeowners who are interested in designating,” Boyes told TAPinto Westfield. “I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me.”
A release from the HPC describes the home in extensive detail.
“The kitchen wing with former servant’s quarters above boasts its original brick open hearth, beehive oven and cast-iron stove, still in working condition,” states the release. “The side yard retains the original well and cast-iron hand pump. Two outbuildings that once stood on the property were relocated to the Miller-Cory House by John Frazee.”
Boyes said in the statement that the Nolde family had first been motivated by a series of presentations from the historic preservation commission.
“The Noldes first came to one of our Speaker Series and were inspired by the direction that the Commission and the Town is taking towards historic preservation,” Boyes said. “Both Mr. and Mrs. Nolde have given back to this community, for years as teachers in the Westfield Public School system and now by preserving their beautiful home and property for the future generations of Westfield.”
For more information or to inquire about designating an historic property, visit westfieldnj.gov/historicpreservation or email HPC@westfieldnj.gov.