Preservation Awards

The Montclair Historic Preservation Commission conducts the Preservation Awards to highlight significant individuals, development projects and other historic preservation activity in the Township of Montclair.

The Preservation Awards are awarded in May, which is proclaimed as Preservation Month by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The 2023 Preservation Awards will be presented at the May 11, 2023 meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission.

Awards are presented in one of three different categories:

  • Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award: This award recognizes excellence in the preservation and restoration of historic buildings, interpretation of architectural features and compatible design in new construction, and adaptive reuse of historic structures. Judging standards include architectural integrity and compatibility, successful adaptation or continued use of a historic structure, quality of construction, craftsmanship, and/or technical excellence.  This award is presented separately to both residential and non-residential projects.
  • Preservation Service Award: This award recognizes outstanding achievement in and support for furthering the aims of historic preservation in Montclair Township, including research, development, planning, advocacy, and local community leadership. Individuals, businesses, and organizations are eligible. All nominated individuals must live or work in Montclair. 
  • Preservationist of the Year Award: This award recognizes extraordinary contributions to the better understanding of the Township’s history and to the preservation of Montclair’s historic architectural fabric. The individual will be recognized for furthering public education of the town’s history and promoting its historic preservation through major projects, undertakings, offices or positions held, and the duration of the nominee’s significant accomplishments.

To make a nomination, please download the form at this link, and follow instructions within to submit. Nominations deadline is April 7, 2023.

Previous Award Recipients

2020 Award Recipients

Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award
Residential: 50 Label Street – Eshelman House

Ms. Eshelman notes that she has restored "every square inch of my house, from chimney liners and a new roof to asbestos abatement for basement flooring and everything in between.” Built as workman's housing prior to 1908 (Montclair map) it is situated across the street from Erie Park, a stone yard at the turn-of-the-century. Restoration of the exterior facade included re-shingling and replacement of windows in the original configuration when the originals could not be salvaged. An Arts and Crafts aesthetic guided her choices for the details. From the weathervane to the lattice work; from the front door to the exterior lighting; all exhibit the hand-made look of the era.

Mixed-Use: 256 Park Street – The Westerly

The newly constructed Wesley building stands out in town with its use of quality materials and its design. Although it’s one story higher and bulkier than adjacent properties, the developer complimented the Watchung Plaza Historic District’s architecture with an engraved building name, layered dental molding and a brick exterior in a variety of colors and patterns to provide the texture and interest of bygone craftsmanship. The building is elegant in its simplicity, combining historical features with a now popular industrial look of iron balcony railings and black awnings.

Commercial: The Shade Store, 513 Bloomfield Avenue

The Shade Store, a national franchise, recently opened a retail store in the Town Center Historic District in Montclair. They took a "tired" storefront and transformed it into a brand identifying facade while working with the HPC to ensure that the new store-front conformed to the district guidelines.
Employing the company's distinctive branding look, they faced the non-original facade with aluminum panels and used brushed steel, edge-lit letters in a dark bronze finish to identify their location. Unearthing the existing facade, they confirmed that none of the original remained before commencing with the work. Their message of mass customization with a national reach continues into the interior, which is light and airy. This is a successful example of how a nationally recognized company worked with the local HPC to revitalize a historic building facade.

Commercial: Faubourg, 544 Bloomfield Avenue

Restaurateurs Dominique Paulin and Oliver Muller have taken a former mid-century bank building on Bloomfield Avenue and transformed it into a lively and chic dining spot in the Town Center Historic District. Capitalizing on an adjoining exterior patio, the restaurant spills into bi-level garden space complete with a water feature. Metal, wood, and glass accents combine to create a modern ambiance with a French accent. Care was taken to clean the brick facades and maintain the original window openings. This adaptive-reuse project within the historic district demonstrates the success of renovating, restoring, and reusing a historic building. The modern vibe works perfectly with the ca. 1948 exterior both inside and out. This Bricks and Mortar Award demonstrates the successful result of entrepreneurs, architects, landscape, and interior designers in the historic district.

Commercial: Paper Plane Coffee, 194 Claremont Avenue

The Paper Plane Coffee Company opened in September 2019 in a circa-1928 Gothic Revival commercial building developed in the 1920s by the Chancellor Development Corporation of Newark. This project preserved and maintained the largely original exterior, with respect for its design integrity and materials. On the interior, it enhanced the historic features that give the space character. Overall, the revitalized storefront has added vibrancy to the building and elevated its historic character.

Preservation Service Award
Upper Montclair Women’s Club

The Women's Club of Upper Montclair is celebrating their centennial in 2020. A member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs of the GFWC - Liberty District, the Upper Montclair Club incorporated in 1920, has a long history of community involvement including Autism Awareness, Operation Smile, Canine Companions for Independence, and their current project as Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey (CASA). For the past century the club house, constructed in 1923 and designed by famed local architect, Francis Augustus Nelson, has been maintained by the Club. The building, an outstanding example of Colonial Revival is one of many designed by Nelson in Upper Montclair including the Upper Montclair post office, the library, St. James Memorial tower plus numerous notable residences. It is in the Upper Montclair Historic Business District. The Upper Montclair Women's Club members have been faithful stewards in preserving both the exterior, interior and the grounds of this unique example of Women’s' Clubs of the era. It is fitting that we celebrate their century of work and dedication to the community with this Preservation Service Award.

Montclair History Center – 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

The age of Covid-19 restrictions did not deter the Montclair History Center from celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Women's Suffrage Movement. Combining an online lecture, a blog posted on their website and a magazine article in a local journal, the History Center celebrates the women's fight-to-vote movement of the 1920s and brings it forward to our era. Research based on the History Center's archives highlight the local proponents of the movement within the Montclair Equal Suffrage League. Lucy Stone, who lived at 119 North Mountain Avenue and created the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 was not the only suffragette to have lived in Montclair. This local involvement makes it especially significant to understanding the nascent tenets of the movement. The History Center has done an outstanding job in presenting this important narrative in the various formats available in our own time.

Lacordaire Academy

Lacordaire Academy opened its doors in 1920 as an independent educational facility by the French branch of the Dominican order. The mansion, which was the convent for the school until three years ago, was built in 1894 for Dr. Morgan Ayres and his extended family. Commanding pride of place on the north-west corner of Lorraine Avenue and Park Street, this structure was considered one of the "finest residences in Upper Montclair" at the end of the 19th century. Known as "Homeland" on the 1906 Essex County tax map, it was built in a Richardsonian style with a massive brownstone foundation. It also boasts delicate Queen Anne detailing in its fanciful column capitals and elaborate scroll-work in the entry gable. The imposing turret and broad front porch epitomize the high Victorian style. The grand entrance hall is fitted with mahogany spindles, fretwork, stained glass, and a staircase inglenook. The Dominican sisters have been faithful stewards in their maintenance of the house, carriage-house, and the grounds. In this year of the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the school and the 125th year of the creation of this magnificent mansion, it is fitting we acknowledge their dedication with a Preservation Service award.

Preservationist of the Year Award
Ilmar Vanderer

Ilmar Vanderer has long been a community leader advancing preservation and promoting Montclair history, particularly the Bellevue Branch Library, the Bellevue Theater, the Mount Hebron (Buzz Aldrin) Middle School, and the Oakcroft neighborhood.
The Bellevue Branch Library
In 2010 he was a founding member of Friends of the Bellevue Avenue Library, formed in response to the town’s closure of that branch. He went on to become its vice president and then its president. As an avid Bellevue Branch patron since boyhood, Ilmar recognized the importance of the branch to the community and the significance of the building to the historic fabric of Upper Montclair. He understood that if the building were closed, the fate of that 1914 Francis A. Nelson Carnegie library would be in jeopardy.
Along with other concerned citizens, Ilmar worked strategically and tirelessly to build a coalition for keeping the branch open, to raise money, to organize volunteers, and to demonstrate public demand for the branch’s services. He was often the public voice of the Friends, speaking at township council meetings and to the media, as well as acting as a diplomatic lobbyist. The result of all this hard work is that the library was closed for only six months rather than permanently. Not only did the Township reopen the branch in June 2011 but it invested money into protecting the structure’s historic integrity by restoring its character-defining Austral windows.
For the branch’s centennial in 2014, Ilmar and others planned a yearlong celebration with 16 community programs attended by about 1,000 people. These entertaining and educational events included a presentation on the library’s history and a community gathering in the library with a descendant of Andrew Carnegie. Ilmar would be the first to say he did not do all this alone, which is certainly true. But as an energetic advocate, he was instrumental in bringing likeminded people together to successfully achieve daunting preservation- and history-oriented goals.
Honoring Buzz Aldrin
Growing up just one block from the boyhood home of the Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Ilmar has a deep enthusiasm for that hometown hero. In March 2015 he joined the “Man on the Moon” Committee, which had the goal of renaming Mount Hebron Middle School in honor of Aldrin. Ilmar spoke at School Board meetings and carried out other advocacy work with the committee to ensure that Aldrin’s historic achievement would be commemorated in a substantive, enduring fashion in Montclair.
The Bellevue Theater
When this beloved community landmark suddenly closed in November 2017, Ilmar quickly responded by creating the Save Montclair’s Historic Bellevue Theater Facebook page. Less visibly, he took a lead role as a volunteer matchmaker, working with the theater’s owner to find a new tenant or buyer to reanimate the darkened theater. He spent hours speaking with different parties and arranging and attending meetings in the service of bringing the theater back to life.
The Bellevue, built in 1922, is a key building in the Upper Montclair Historic Business District. Ilmar understands its significance as both a community touchstone and as an architectural anchor in Upper Montclair. He is also keenly aware that bad things can happen to old buildings that remain vacant and therefore worked with a sense of urgency to help find a tenant that would be a good steward of the building’s Tudor Revival architecture. When the new tenant proposed plans for adaptive reuse to the Historic Preservation Commission in 2019, Ilmar attended and commented. He has also been in conversation with the Montclair Public Library to present a slideshow there on the history and future of the theater.
Although the pandemic has slowed the progress of the team preparing to revitalize the Bellevue, Ilmar’s efforts to propel its rebirth should not be diminished.
Oakcroft Potential Historic District
As a resident of Montclair’s historic Oakcroft for a half-century, Ilmar has a firm grasp of what makes this early 20th-century suburban commuter neighborhood architecturally cohesive and historically rich. He also understands the benefits of protecting those qualities by having the neighborhood designated a local historic district.
At meetings of the Historic Preservation Commission in 2019, it took courage for Ilmar to speak in favor of designation when angry residents, some of them his neighbors, spoke against it. Although the designation effort did not proceed because of opposition, Ilmar contributed an important voice in favor of residential districting in Montclair.

2019 Award Recipients

Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award

  • Residential: 20 Clinton Avenue – Thomas House

    Homeowners John & Elizabeth Thomas and Francis C. Klein & Associates Architects will be recognized for the reconstruction of an historically accurate porch that returned this 19th century house to its original charm. In keeping with the historic period, the homeowners and Francis C. Klein & Associates also removed the 20th century additions of a classical pediment, sunray transom window and lighting fixtures. The fish scale and diamond shingles coexist happily with the new metal seam roof. In addition, the removal of the shutters further enhances the Queen Anne character of this house.

  • Residential: 21 Plymouth Street & 41 Plymouth Street

    Developer Sustainable Sanctuary Homes, LLC and Sionas Architecture, P.C. will be recognized for the rehabilitation of these two vintage Montclair homes, one from the 1890's and the other from the 1910's that have been renovated and rehabilitated into multi-family dwellings. Paul Sionas and Sustainable Sanctuary Homes have adaptively reused two prime examples of Montclair's architecture. Restoring and improving the two exteriors reinforces the domestic character of Plymouth Street, reminiscent of the time when one family homes lined the street. Removing aluminum siding, improving the driveway, adding substantial landscaping and removing medical office space has vastly improved 21 Plymouth Street. The work on 41 Plymouth Street maintains its Colonial Craftsmen stucco exterior while offering modern amenities in two units. This type of adaptive reuse is encouraged and ensures that Montclair's streetscapes will maintain their attractive charm and character.

  • Non-Residential: 222-230 Bloomfield Avenue

    Property owner WE MCL Holdings, LLC, design firm Green Stories, LLC, architect Mark Bess and American Terracotta LLC will be recognized for the restoration and replication of the historic façade of this building.  Hidden beneath aluminum siding, the team has worked to remove the non-historic elements and restore the façade to its prior condition.  American Terracotta, LLC replicated historic terracotta elements.  The restoration of the façade maintains the historic building in the Town Center Historic District and improves the commercial area.

  • Non-Residential: 237-249 Lorraine Avenue – Warner Building

    Property owner Michael Pavel and architect Jarmel Kizel will be recognized for their restoration of this Harmonizing building in the Upper Montclair Historic Business District.  The restoration of the historic building and the sensitive new addition to the rear retains the historic character while providing modern amenities.·    

  • Institutional: Montclair Public Library – Bellevue Branch

    The Bellevue Avenue Branch Library, designed by Francis A. Nelson, a Montclair resident working in the New York architectural firm of Nelson and Van Wagenen, is a Carnegie funded library dating from 1913. It is listed on the New Jersey and National registers of historic places and the local historic district of Upper Montclair Business District. In 2016, the Montclair Public Library decided to repair the historic "Austral" windows which are a character defining element of the building. Working with Mary Delaney Krugman, Preservation Specialist, these patented self-balanced windows were repaired and returned to working order. Dell-Tech was selected as the restoration contractor because of their experience with rehabilitation of historic windows. Ms. Krugman and the project team of Morse Associates of Poestenkill, NY and DBC Preservation Architecture of Glenmont supervised the entire restoration. Historic paint samples from the building were uncovered and the Austral windows were returned to their original condition. The finished project has enhanced one of the most important buildings in the Upper Montclair Historic District.

    Preservation Service Award

  • Friends of Anderson Park

Anderson Park is an oasis of greenery and tranquility adjoining the Upper Montclair Historic Business District, the Boonton-Greenwood Lake commuter train line and the residential areas of Oakcroft and North Mountain Ave. An Olmsted Brothers designed landscape gives Anderson Park a naturalistic setting with informal plantings and winding pathways. Scott Kevelson, president and founder of the Friends of Anderson Park, a non-profit conservancy, has worked tirelessly to promote the natural, cultural, historic and educational qualities of the site. Their stewardship includes maintenance and replenishment of the original Olmsted plantings. Since 2006, they have planted 160 trees and 60 shrubs, including a rose bed, in cooperation with the Essex County Parks. They host an annual "Music Under the June Moon" event, plus numerous educational incentives such as the short-story contest and art projects. Nominated to the State and National registers in 2009, through the efforts of Lisanne Renner, Anderson Park with Scott Kevelson at the helm, continues to surprise and invigorate the current residents of Montclair.

Preservationist of the Year Award

  • Donato DiGeronimo

    Mr. DiGeronimo is a Board Member of the Montclair History Center and a partner with Montclair State University to preserve the diverse and varied histories of Montclair.  He is a fount of information about Montclair history from one corner of the town to the other, a booster of Montclair’s history through his involvement and leadership in scores of civic committees over the years, Donato is a homegrown historian helping to capture and make more widely known the multiethnic history that has made Montclair into a culturally rich community.

  • Lisanne Renner

    Lisanne Renner has shown a passion & commitment level to Montclair 's history and preservation over many years.  This includes special projects (e.g. researching, compiling and presenting the History of The Bellevue Theater) or her Friends of Anderson Park ongoing community outreach (e.g. annual historical walking tours of Upper Montclair Village and Anderson Park).  She regularly attends township meetings and community functions to further historic preservation understanding and practice.  She is one of Montclair's most ardent advocates of Historic Preservation.

    Preservationist of the Year Award – Special Recognition

  • Rev. Royal F. Shepard, Jr.

Mr. Shepard will be recognized for his special contribution to the Township of Montclair.  Mr. Shepard was sworn in as Township Historian by the Township Council on July 23, 1996 and served in the role until 2004.  During this time, he also served on the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission beginning in March 1999 and serving as Vice Chair of the Commission from February 2000 until his resignation from the Commission in December 2002.  He also served as a Trustee for the Montclair Historical Society (now the Montclair History Center).

Mr. Shepard was born and raised in Montclair, loved the history of the Township and shared his knowledge of the history with many.  In 2003, he published the book “Montclair” with his daughter Elizabeth Shepard.  In addition, he provided contributions to the Montclair 125th anniversary book, Montclair 1868-1993, and Montclair Millennium Book 2000-2002.

Mr. Shepard also created the Montclair History Roundtable, a forum to discuss the Township’s History, led walking tours, conducted presentations, and served as a regular contributor and historic verifier for the Montclair Times.

Mr. Shepard passed away earlier in 2019 and the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission is proud to recognize his many significant contributions to the Township’s history.


2018 Award Recipients

Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award

  • Timothy Bray will be recognized for his rehabilitation of the residential dwelling at 107 Claremont Avenue, a vernacular Queen Anne home, built in 1881.
  • Willow Street Partners & Sionas Architecture will be recognized for their rehabilitation and restoration of the Georgian Inn, now known as The George Hotel, at 37 North Mountain Avenue.

Preservation Service Award

  • The Montclair History Center and Montclair Public Library will be recognized for collaborative effort to further the aims of historic preservation by co-hosting the popular “Researching Your Home’s History” series with the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission.
  • The Montclair Rotary Club, the Family of Don Miller and Mr. Frank Gerard Godlewski will be recognized for their collaborative effort to preserve Montclair’s history by permanently installing a copy of Montclair native Don Miller’s The Martin Luther King Freedom Mural for local viewing at the Montclair Public Library. 

Preservationist of the Year Award

  • Ms. Jane M. Eliasof, Executive Director of the Montclair History Center, will be recognized for her passion for history and commitment to listen to and share all voices in Montclair’s history in the programs and initiatives she has implemented at the Montclair History Center.


2017 Award Recipients

Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award

  • The Deron School was recognized for their work on the former Grove Street School building and grounds at 130 Grove Street.
  • Willow Street Partners & Sionas Architecture were recognized for their rehabilitation and restoration of the former Inspection Station building, located at 16 Label Street.
  • St. James Episcopal Church and its team were recognized for the restoration of the Bell Tower at St. James Episcopal Church at 581 Valley Road in Upper Montclair.

Preservationist of the Year Award

  • Mr. Michael Farrelly, Trustee of the Montclair History Center and Township Historian, was recognized for his passion for history, thorough and detail-oriented research, and generosity in furthering public education of the town’s history and promoting its historic preservation.


2015 Award Recipients

Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award (Non-Residential)

  • The Montclair Historical Society was recognized for their efforts to rehabilitate the Crane House & Historic YWCA, located at 110 Orange Road
  • Notchwood, LLC was recognized for their redevelopment work of the Upper Montclair Train Station

Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award (Residential)

  • Goran & Selma Avdicevic and Classics Reborn were recognized for their efforts to restore the porch of the Harry Fenn House located at 208 North Mountain Avenue.

Preservation Service Award

  • The Montclair Garden Club was recognized for their continued efforts to maintain and protect the Avis Campbell Memorial Garden, located behind the Social Services Building at 60 South Fullerton Avenue

Preservationist of the Year Award

  • Mr. William Fischer, local historian and former Local History and Community Information Supervisor the Montclair Public Library, was recognized for his commitment to preserve and share Montclair’s history
  • Dr. Susan Nowicki was recognized for her dissertation entitled “Montclair, New Jersey: the development of a suburban town and its architecture” which was published by the City University of New York.
  • Mr. Frank Godlewski was recognized for his efforts to host events and promote the historic fabric of Montclair.

2022 Award Recipients

Bricks & Mortar Preservation Award
Residential: 25 Princeton Place (Buzz Aldrin House)

Craftspeople and Contractors: Sally Ross, David Greene Construction, Peter Willcox, John Cosgrove, Mike McCue, Jimmy Hemmerich

When the former childhood home of Buzz Aldrin (resident from 1930 to the early 1950s) changed hands in February 2021, after the previous, post-Aldrin owners had occupied the home for six decades, preservationists felt trepidation regarding whether historically insensitive alterations might befall the house. A campaign to make the home an Aldrin house museum had not come to fruition, and an effort by the Township to designate the
surrounding Oakcroft neighborhood as a historic district had not succeeded. This tangible link to perhaps Montclair’s most famous resident seemed vulnerable and uncertain.

The heartening news is that the new owners, Elyse Moody and Jim Connolly, cherish the home’s Craftsman architecture and its history, and have carefully and sensitively burnished its defining features and made functional changes that are respectfully compatible with its original character. They are the good stewards this significant home deserves.

Residential: 88 Grove Street

Craftspeople: Gikas Contracting and Wilbur's Painting

The owners have taken a forlorn and highly altered Queen Anne style house and returned it to its best self. They've removed aluminum siding to reveal whimsically shaped shingles, recreated the historic front porch, returned two-over-two windows and a welcoming entrance, and are in the process of painting it in a polychrome Victorian paint scheme. The work has brought life and pride to a busy intersection in the heart of Montclair.

Commercial: 111-113 Grove Street

Architect: Paul Sionas Architecture, PC

This corner upscale commercial building enhances the neighborhood by using quality materials and simple details for interest  to create this contemporary industrial architecture.  Overhangs surround the building using iron and to contrast the brick façade.  Simple details add interest on the brick structure. A brick wall, wood fencing and stone walkways frame somewhat mature landscaping.  We appreciate design and construction which celebrates Montclair historical neighborhoods.

Preservation Service Award
History at Home

Conveyor: Montclair History Center

The Montclair History Center continued to fulfill their mission to preserve local history and share the stories of the people of the township who made it what it is today by offering virtual talks on various aspects of local history. The "History at Home" series offered 22 talks during 2021, educating the community to some well-known and some not-so-well-known topics during afternoon and evening hours twice a month, excluding the summer. The series featured topics such as the architecture of Montclair Heights, architectural styles, local train stations, Bloomfield Avenue, South Mountain Avenue, local cemeteries, iconic houses, the Nolen Plan and images of the past portrayed in a Magic Lantern slide show plus some interesting stories of the local population. All provided the audience with a better understanding of the many important people and architectural treasures centered in Montclair. Speakers included architects, historians. MHC trustees, a Montclair University professor. a curator of the Yogi Berra Museum and the township historian. The Montclair History Center offered an educational and informative outlet for their various audiences to combat the isolation brought on by pandemic restrictions.