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May   8

These Walls Can Talk

Everyone has something to say about Duryea Road, including the Meriney kids, who grew up in the home.

Dear Ms. Kristin Kenney,

Duryearoad_2Thank you for spearheading the formation of the Huestis House Preservation Friends.  As you know, we grew up in the historic house at 4 Duryea, also known as “Gray Gables”, and it is a very special house indeed.  We feel very lucky to have lived there from 1968 to 2006, and our family has many, many fond memories rooted in that house.  With its extraordinary stained glass windows, beautiful woodwork, many fireplaces, porches, hidden passageways and tower rooms, it is truly a remarkable landmark of Upper Montclair.

It is an understatement to say we were heartbroken to hear the realtor who bought the house is considering demolition.  Allowing the real estate agency who bought the Huestis house at 4 Duryea to destroy it would be absolutely scandalous, and from the standpoint of Upper Montclair’s allure, a true shame.  We agree with you that the surrounding neighborhoods and, for that matter, the town itself would be losing a significant landmark. What would happen if most of the large properties around town, such as the notable ones on Upper Mountain Avenue, were sold, the big, old houses demolished, and five to 10 new houses were put on each lot? Does this set a precedent for the demolition and development of other areas in Upper Montclair and Montclair? We can see it has happened already to the old Marlboro Inn. Is this the Montclair that people want to live in?

We believe people move to Montclair based not only on its school system, its diversity, and quick access to NYC but also because of the charm of the lovely, old houses that make up its neighborhoods.

Thank you, again, for working toward preserving the Huestis house at 4 Duryea and for all your work with the town council members and the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission.  Thank you for caring about our old house and for the future of development in all of Montclair. All I can tell you is the Huestis house at 4 Duryea holds a special place in our families’ heart, and we truly appreciate your efforts. If there is anything we can do to help, please contact us.

Lisa Meriney Williams
Mike Meriney
Paul Feshbach-Meriney
Steve Meriney

May 8, 2006 in Controversy | Permalink



Posted by: fussyhostess | May 8, 2006 3:32:12 PM

What happen on the Marlborough Inn property is repulsive. Don't let it happen here. Boycott the realtor!

Posted by: BigBob | May 8, 2006 4:28:22 PM

Yes, for sure.
Realtors make a big thing about trust, and caring about the town and its people. This one clearly lied, to make a profit.
I say boycott him and his agency.
After all, they work on word of mouth and trust.
Pass it on!

Posted by: trollhater | May 8, 2006 9:51:34 PM

i am so happy to hear the meriney family speak up.
i was a patient who went to this wonderful home/office once a week as a child for years, and as an adult for allergy shots.
it is a gorgeous place. not meant for demolition by any means.
i appears that they (the sellers) were given less than the truth from the buyer of their historic home.
the realtor who bought it will obviously suffer from his self inflicted debacle due to extreme bad press. it was his own fault for underestimating the town's appreciation for the historic and charming, as opposed to the new and nuoveau riche.

let this be a lesson to us all. let the seller beware. this too could happen to your charming montclair home. if this in fact is true about what the realtor plans to do ,we all know one thing now...not to sell or deal with the realtor that may have snowed the meriney family.
if that person had no legal obligation to clue the family into his intentions...he certainly had a moral obligation to let them know he planned on tearing down their historic home.
he, the realtor, does after all have to work and deal with the residents of this town....OR NOT!

lisa kalb schaffer

Posted by: lisa kalb schaffer | May 9, 2006 10:11:40 PM

Check out today's msn feature:


Posted by: Amanda | May 10, 2006 10:55:39 AM

#3 Amanda,

"Think historical. Occasionally, neighborhoods can find protection against big change by securing state or federal historic district status. But did you know that some cities also can designate historic districts?"

See! Historical preservation is more about stopping the McMansion than preserving history.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 11:00:03 AM

No ROC, that's not what it means. It means that IF a neighborhood is worthy of historical preservation and has NOT yet been designated one, then that is ONE of SEVERAL ways to try to prevent McMansions. It does NOT mean that preventing McMansions is the main reason for historic designations.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | May 10, 2006 11:26:16 AM

The article is subtitled:

"If you're worried about megahomes encroaching on your neighborhood, take matters into your own hands with these 5 tips."

It is but one "tip", or tatic or strategy.

I am sure many who read the article will take the "tip" to heart.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 11:40:23 AM

Read that article Maui.

It's sort of a "how-to" at intellectual honesty.

I suppose it is hard to say "we don't like your taste, so we will gang up on you to prevent it". So in our I-Me-mine culture other "angles" have to be concocted.

"This might mean being creative and imposing energy-consumption restraints, rather than outright square-footage caps, for example."

It's dishonest, plain and simple. There's no ethics anymore.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 11:53:43 AM

It's sort of a "how-to" at intellectual dis-honesty...

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 11:54:25 AM

ROC, I was not commenting on the honesty of dishonesty of the article as a whole. I was just refuting your claim that historic preservation is more about preventing McMansions than historic preservation. The article's "tip" about historic preservation being a possible tactic merely said that "occasionally" this is something to be considered. "Occasionally" would be when the neighborhood in question would qualify to be historic. The standards don't change depending on why one is trying to get something designated. The standards for what is historic stay the same. So no one would get something labeled "historic" and protect it unless it was already something worth preserving for other reasons.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | May 10, 2006 2:13:31 PM


You are missing the point. Let's say you and I work in the same office. And you wear what I consider to be ugly clothing. Let's say you wear dresses and skirts to work and I think they are really really ugly.

Now I can't very well walk up to you and say "wear attractive pant suits please" or ask the employer to "make" you wear something else? Can I?

So, let's say I concoct a "safety" issue. I find some study to say dresses cause more office accidents as they are more likely to get caught on office furniture.

So the employer announces a new safety code baring your "unsafe" choice of clothing.

It's dishonest, because my *principal* aim is to make you wear different clothes, I don't really care a whit about safety.

The same in the article and the same in many actual situations, I think. "Historic preservation" is used as a tool for aesthetic control, *precisely* as the article suggests! Just look at *any* thread on the topic. There will be one or two posts about the history of the structure and preservation and 60 zillion posts to the effect "we must prevent those McMonstrosities in our neighborhood!".

It's patently obvious.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 2:24:18 PM

(p.s. *even though*, in fact, the office might be made more "safe")

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 2:27:03 PM

Mauigirl - Why do you bother? If you leave him alone, he'll argue with himself.

Posted by: BobR | May 10, 2006 2:41:02 PM

LOL, Bob, I know...but I never stop trying because I know there are many ROC's out there who don't really "get" historic preservation. I'm hoping that even if ROC himself will never agree with me, someone who is lurking and may share some of ROC's opinions may have a change of heart.

ROC, actually, this McMansion thing is a Johnny-Come-Lately to the historic preservation issue. The historic preservation laws really started in the mid-60's way before McMansions came on the scene. And for that matter some of these new McMansion developments someday (if they don't fall down from shoddy workmanship) may be historic in their own right. (100 years from now I can just see preservationists saying "My, isn't this a wonderful example of early turn of the 21st century architecture! Look at that primitive vinyl! You don't see THAT anymore!") ;-)

I also wonder if my own neighborhood may not have been frowned upon by nearby neighbors in older homes because the houses tend to be rather large on their 50X100 lots compared to older properties which had bigger lots for the larger houses, or smaller houses on the same size lot. Ours was an early 20th century development. But the difference is, these houses were not tear-downs, nor are the McMansion developments I'm talking about. I think that is what people are trying to prevent. Although McMansions are not my taste, I defend to the death anyone's right to build them in a suitably zoned development; it's tearing down an old house for an incongruous new one that bothers me. But I suppose it's been done in the past and will continue to be done. But it makes us lose the characer of our towns and that's why I fight it. If you don't care if you live in a soul-less suburb with no identity, more power to you. I do, and so do many other people who support historic preservattion.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | May 10, 2006 5:28:07 PM

Oops, character, not characer.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | May 10, 2006 5:29:15 PM

"ROC, actually, this McMansion thing is a Johnny-Come-Lately to the historic preservation issue".

Precisely, and coincidentally we now see more rancorous Historic Preservation issues, and such things as forced-upon-the-owner landmark status.

I think there is a connection.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 5:39:06 PM

I'm not sure that's statistically true - are you going by anecdotal evidence/things you are reading in the local papers? I'd be curious if that is a nationwide trend or not. It's certainly possible as more and more people become concerned about teardowns. I still don't see it as a bad thing but I know we don't share that perspective! ;-)

Posted by: mauigirl52 | May 11, 2006 12:02:38 AM

I find the Meriney family's comments somewhat disingenuous. The family has lived in the town for a long time and surely must have had some sense of their buyer's background/history of buying properties to renovate them and resell them for a profit. It's like selling the property to the Girl Scouts of America and then lamenting, "I had no idea they were ever going to consider selling cookies!" Gimme a break!

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