Updated Feb. 29 for clarification.
WESTFIELD, NJ — Two retired Westfield schoolteachers were among local homeowners to accept praise for their dedication to historic preservation earlier this week.
Residents Frank and Carol Nolde have been living in their home in Westfield for 46 years and were among those to accept the recognition from the Historic Preservation Commission on Monday. The couple recently obtained a historic designation for their 170-year-old home.
“It started with inheriting antiques from family, and then we realized that the antiques needed a house,” said Carol Nolde. “We bought a house that needed a lot of restorations. I would say the house was pretty much restored in 40 years. So, you have to be patient and know what you’re doing.”
Residents Susan and Thomas Murtishaw moved into their home in 1991. Their house, which was built in 1890, required renovations. During the renovation, the couple said they found historic newspapers being used as insulation, which they shared with friends.
They also had their friends sign the inside of the walls, so that the next homeowners who renovate the house would find their signatures.
The recognition came at the same meeting during which architect Gregory Blasi provided a detailed photo presentation on the various types of historic homes in Westfield.
Those homes include the Dutch Colonial design, Victorian, and Spanish Mission design. Many of the homes in Westfield are 1920s eclectic Dutch Colonial Homes. Spanish mission houses were typically built during the Great Depression, when building large homes was less common.
The Historic Preservation Commission’s mission is to protect houses against demolition and suburban “cookie-cutter” developments and to use historic preservation as a tool to protect the environment.
“Historic preservation provides one of the few defenses against ‘tear downs’ or inappropriate development,” the commission states in a flyer encouraging historic designation. “Designating a historic property helps protect it against demolition of encroachment and ensures it will be passed onto future generations.”
Speaking with TAPinto Westfield, HPC Chairwoman Maria Boyes detailed the origins of the commission.
The Historic Preservation Commission was established in 1985, and ten years later, the residents of Kimball Avenue created the town’s first and only historic district as young homeowners who were proud of their homes, Boyes said.
“Today we are once again seeing young couples drawn to owning historic homes because of their unique character,” she said.
A recent survey conducted as part of the town’s planning process found, 80% of Westfield residents said that they are tired of the teardowns and want to preserve Westfield’s historic character.
“I’ve lived in town for 30 years,” Boyes said. “As you saw from the residents here, they’ve all lived here for 40-50 years. Once I became involved with historic preservation, I realized that [Kimball Avenue] was the only historically designated street in our entire town. ... We have a lot of historic homes, but not a lot of designated homes.”
Boyes said she is encouraged that the town has funded the purchase of the plaques given out at Monday’s meeting.
“We were finally able to have a budget given to us by our administration, so we could purchase plaques so we could give to these homeowners that so deserve to be recognized,” Boyes said. “It’s a small token. They were thrilled.”