April 27, 2009 S.O. House Tour: Tale of Two Pool Tables and Seven Homes
Two of a Kind ‘Gems’ Built in Same Era Couldn’t Be More Different
Music, Al-Fresco Snacks, Door Prizes Are Added Tour Attractions
All the seven residences open for the
May 2, 2009 “Gems of
South Orange” House Tour are homes of architectural distinction, but two mega homes are a notable study in similarity and contrast. [More about them later.]
The biannual event, a benefit for the South Orange Historical and Preservation Society, provides curious neighbors as well as architecture buffs from the region an indoor/outdoor exploration of residences that they would not ordinarily get to see. The Saturday tour, timed perfectly to coincide with the peak blooms of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, cherry trees, and magnolias is open to the public between 11 and 4. A donation is required.
Traveling among the seven private homes and one historic church can be done by car, or via the free jitney which will run continuously. Some of the featured houses are within walking distance of each other. Walking and biking are encouraged, but remember that
South Orange has been called “the Switzerland of New Jersey.”
Music, Food, Prizes
The much-recorded jazz guitarist Bob DeVos, Celtic harpist Odarka Starkey, cellist Marty Steinberg, and a number of ensembles from the South Orange/Maplewood school district’s
ColumbiaHigh School and middle schools are among the entertainers who will play at the Tour houses.
The Marketplace at Eden (Eden Gourmet) will serve an assortment of seasonal specialties that can be found at the beautiful
South Orange store, while Chef James Grier of Gourmet Exchange returns to the Tour to offer Asian shrimp gazpacho, penne with garlic pesto, a savory tomato bruschetta, an apple/rum bruschetta for dessert, and tastes of infused olive oils.
Chef Melody (WOR-Radio celebrity chef) of The Main Event by Melody, a
Morristown caterer, will present her pumpkin/almond waffles plus Carolina Rice lime-zested coconut rice pudding and a tour of Harney & Sons teas.
Fresh from a New York Times review, South Orange’s Harrar Café will set out authentic Ethiopian sega wot (a hearty slow-simmered beef stew) and yedoro wot (citrus-marinated chicken stew), both accompanied by traditional injera bread. New World Catering of Maplewood’s pastry chef promises to whip up an assortment of mini-cupcakes and pastries.
Everyone purchasing a ticket gets a chance to win dinner for two served at one’s home by the ever-popular Chef Jesse, who will provide all ingredients and pair wines for the winner’s suggested menu. The dinner is valued at over $150. For the other winner, The Main Event by Melody is donating a bounteous $100 gift basket overflowing with gourmet foods.
The self-guided tour begins at the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew and Holy Communion which marks its 150th anniversary this year. The beautiful brownstone edifice boasts several documented Tiffany stained-glass windows.
Two Homes and Two Pool Tables
Of the seven homes, two are sited high on
FirstMountain and were constructed for
New York executives to make best advantage of
Manhattan views. Both have seen tasteful, sensibly-integrated additions and have been thoroughly modernized. And the owners of both are proud of favorite zones in their homes, including respective billiard rooms.
For each home, the number of bedrooms plus baths require all the fingers of both hands to total. And each has uniqely personal spaces, including a billiard room amid over 5000 square feet of interior.
The original portion of the white brick house (addresses not disclosed until day of the Tour) is mostly Tudor revival. Its inspiration shows in the curve of a small roof over the western entry and in the truncated roof peaks.
It was built in 1929 on an oversized double lot. Sixty-four years later, more space hallmarked by an atrium with twenty-plus vertical feet of glass was appended. Both the northeast and southwest exposures feature contemporary glazing added to the severe and substantial façade.
The green felt of its pool table echoes the view of green trees through huge windows adjacent to an exterior door opening to a plaza. The room connects with the rest of the home via a gound-floor corridor or a graceful open spiral staircase.
Overlooking the spacious yard is a modern kitchen with windows running the length of the almost 40-foot space. This will be the closest thing on the Tour to an “endless” kitchen.
Brilliance vs. Dark Coziness
Contrast the high ceilings and brilliance of the white house’s billiard room with the dark coziness of that of Quarry Hall’s. There is only one focus in the serious and quiet windowless room. That is the pool table, its brilliant red playing surface set off from dark panelling by a chandelier which illuminates only the table.
Quarry Hall is so massive, it seems that it needs every bit of its 60-foot-high rock outcropping to support its solid construction. The alterations made since its 1936 build date are organic and maintain the integrity of its Tudor heritage. Not until one sees that the footprint of the original kitchen has quadrupled is it apparent that the home has been contemporized.
The clubby first-floor den, although looking as if it and its enveloping and inviting paneling had been there for centuries is a red herring. It’s actually one of many renovations undertaken by the husband-and-wife owners in four years. They also acted as general contractors for flooring, bathroom environments, relocating of garage doors, and the addition of a sinuous spiral staircase.
Among the other featured homes on the Tour are:
A stately, sumptuously-appointed, turn-of-the-century Colonial Revival, which reflects the balance, symmetry, and proportion of this 250-year-old architecture mode.
A charming Tudor Revival cottage, whose modest interior is punctuated by a soaring great room complete with two-story fieldstone fireplace and cast iron chandeliers.
A gracious Georgian Revival, newly-renovated, whose baby nursery is featured in the April/May issue of NJ Design.
An additional suggested stop on the tour is the massive 14-foot-high Tau sculpture in
MeadowbrookPark by the world-renowned former
South Orange resident, the late sculptor Tony Smith. Docents from the Tony Smith Sculpture Project will provide information and answer questions about this historic twentieth-century piece.
Easy Ticketing, Advance or On-Site
Stops on the tour will be open from
Tickets purchased in advance are $20 per person; $25 on the day of the tour. Tickets may be reserved online at www.sohps.org. As a convenience, and to avoid a wait on Tour Day, tickets may be purchased online through PayPal.
Tickets are also available by mail, with checks payable to the South Orange Historical and Preservation Society at: House Tour,
PO Box 61,
NJ07079. All tickets will be distributed on the day of the tour at the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew and Holy Communion,
160 West South Orange Avenue (at
Ridgewood Road). Parking will be available behind the church and at the adjacent NJ Transit parking lot.
A tour map and guide will be provided with each ticket. Attendees may drive their own vehicles to featured homes or catch the special jitney.
South Orange Historical and Preservation Society was formed in 1986 to further the study of the history and architecture of the Village of South Orange, New Jersey, and to:
Provide programs to disseminate historical, preservation and architectural information.
Support preservation activities within the
Support the recognition of landmark buildings and historic neighborhoods.
Promote adaptive reuse of significant historic structures rather than abandonment or demolition.
Do you know these South Orange homes?Above are two of the seven architecturally distinctive residences (and one historic church) that can be viewed at the May 2 South Orange Historical and Preservation Society House Tour. Refreshments, live music, and unusual culinary door prizes are features of the biannual event. For information and tickets, go to www.sohps.org.
There is no doubt about the purpose of the billiard room, Oriental rug and fireplace [out of view] notwithstanding.Room is on the ground floor of Quarry Hall, open to the public during the May 2 South Orange House Tour.For information and tickets, go to www.sohps.org.
View from one level above the pool table in the game room of the white brick house shows how natural light is brought in.Game room is reached by descending the spiral staircase seen at left, open to public view during the May 2 South Orange House Tour.For information and tickets, go to www.sohps.org.