WESTFIELD, NJ — A 263-year-old home that once lodged a member of a Revolutionary War brigade will likely not be demolished, something that had previously been anticipated.
Kenneth Abramson, the owner of the residence, had previously planned on demolishing the two-story farmhouse so that he could build two homes on his .39-acre property at 923 Central Ave. But on Monday he told the town’s Historic Preservation Commission that he would instead renovate the existing home and build another next to it.
“We could save the house and build another house on the flag lot,” said Abramson, speaking to the commission at its virtual meeting. “I’d be happy restoring it.” The residence had once been home to Revolutionary War Brigade member Cornelius Ludlum.
Abramson, who had previously filed an application with the planning board for a subdivision that included plans to tear down the existing home, told the commission he did not then know the historic significance of the residence. It was originally built in 1757.
“I bought the house not even knowing how old it was,” Abramson said. “I was lied to. I was misled for all these years.”
The HPC recommended the planning board approve the anticipated application contingent on Abramson seeking an historic designation for the home. Plans for the subdivision of 923 Central Ave. are anticipated to be presented to the planning board on Sept. 9.
The commission approved its recommendation unanimously, a move that comes as the town council considers an extensive update to its historic preservation law. Proponents of the legislative update have said it will help to stop the teardowns of stately homes, while opponents have argued in favor of property owner’s rights to change the outward appearance of their residences without requiring government approvals.
The negotiation that played out at the HPC meeting, however, marked a contrast to recent heated public discussions over historic preservation in Westfield.
“I think that it’s important that we understand, and that builders understand, that we can work together,” said Town Historian Robert Wendel, who sits on the historic preservation commission. “That we can save older homes.”
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