The new owners of 26 Wallace Street plan to refurbish it as a single-family home. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
A 19th-century house in downtown Red Bank, spared by public clamor from the wrecking ball earlier this year, has new owners who hope to restore its onetime “splendor,” redbankgreen has learned.
Philip Cardelfe at the HPC meeting Wednesday, above, and the front porch as seen in February. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
He also intends to refurbish the porch’s columns and rails, rebuild two chimneys and replace the roofing, he told the board.
Those are the most immediate exterior needs, Cardelfe said, as he and his wife, Level, embark on a long-term restoration project that that will return the house to its origins as a single-family home.
At one point in recent decades, Cardelfe said, it was used as a rooming house; there are still three doorbells at the front door, he said.
The Cardelfes bought the house in May, just three months after developer Downtown Investors abandoned plans to raze it to create a parking lot for a future office building.
The plan had sparked public opposition, as well as resistance from HPC members, over the feared loss of historic character just steps from Broad Street.
“The house is well known to the commission,” HPC Chairman Chris Fabricant said at Wednesday’s meeting.
Fabricant said the house was built in 1868 by William A. Cole, a dry goods merchant, hotelier, yachtsman and volunteer firefighter who lived in it until his death in 1920.
“He was one of those figures who made Red Bank so great at the time,” he said.
Cardelfe told redbankgreen that the interior of the house is in better shape than as characterized during the hearings late last year and early this year – and better than it appeared when filled with the last owner’s belongings.
The first floor features 12-foot ceilings, “really beefy plaster trim work” and other impressive touches, he said.
“The stairwell and banister are just really beautiful,” and lead to a second floor with 11-foot ceilings, he added.
Cardelfe said he had admired the house for years, and after the collapse of the Downtown Investors plan, he and his wife decided to buy it.
Earlier this year, the house was listed for sale at $899,000. The Cardelfes, longtime Fair Haven residents, got it for $700,000, according to Monmouth County records. Cardelfe said he and his wife have moved in and made it their home.
“The location of it is fantastic. It’s just a really nice old place,” he said.
Long-range, Cardelfe said he hopes to replace the vinyl siding with material more historically accurate. But first, “like many people, we have a lot of plans but don’t have the budget to support them, so we need to figure out what our compromises are going to be,” he said.
The couple’s ultimate goal, he said, is “to get it back to its original splendor, and if we can improve upon that, we will.”
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