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February   5

It (Looks Like) a Shell

A fire ripped through the Bellevue Ave. train station last night. Picture from reader Helen Fallon.

UPDATE: A NJ Transit spokesman gave us some more details. The fire, currently under investigation, started around 1:30 am and was a two-alarm fire. Train service will continue to be available and, starting with tomorrow's commute, riders will have access to 200 feet of the platform at the extreme east side of the platform.

UPDATE TWO: From Mayor Remsen, who gets his information from fire officials: The fire, which is not considered suspicious, apparently started at Round Trip Fare, the restaurant attached to the train station. Damage is very bad, perhaps a total loss.

February 5, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink


Hey, if you scroll down the main page you'll see the Feb 3rd posting about the belated removal of a Christmas tree from almost this exact spot! Could it be involved? Just some food for thought, grist for the mill -- or should I say, fuel for the fire?

Posted by: fussyhostess | Feb 5, 2006 12:14:23 PM

Just some food for thought

Any word re the fate of the restaurant "Round Trip Fare"?

Posted by: Franklin | Feb 5, 2006 12:28:47 PM

I drove over to take a look.

Extensive damage to the building, the fire burned through most of the roof crown, and over the dining room / ticket office area. The kitchen area also showed roof damage.

Peeking in from the rail-side, the dining room was down to the studs. I'm guessing the firefighters had to pull the wood interior away to get at the fire. There's little or no steel here, it's all wood on wood, 1900 vintage construction.

I'd suspect the place is toast...

Posted by: Paul from OB | Feb 5, 2006 1:53:34 PM

...round trip fare...

The owners were there, and employees were removing boxes of materials.

Nice restaurant, good people, they deliver a fine product.

Posted by: Paul from OB | Feb 5, 2006 1:56:44 PM

The fire happened right in the middle of Saturday night's Rocky Horror screening at the bellevue. I announced it to the crowd during the show. Fortunately no one's car was parked on that side of the train station parking lot.

Our cast photographer put his telephoto lens to use as Montclair's finest were there to put the blaze out


Posted by: Larry | Feb 5, 2006 3:42:47 PM

What a horrible thing - but at least it happened when no one was around to get hurt.
Such a nice restaurant and such nice people both owners and staff

Posted by: megan | Feb 5, 2006 3:54:22 PM

Wow, now we can replace the station with three tall family homes - with garages. I'm sure the plannning board will approve it and the Mayor will denounce the design after it's built.

Posted by: offhand | Feb 5, 2006 4:31:46 PM


the ever present rot of cynicism consumes much more than flame ever does.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Feb 5, 2006 4:33:41 PM

As Lily Tomlin once said, "No matter how cynical you are, it's impossible to keep up."

Posted by: latebloomer | Feb 5, 2006 5:05:12 PM

Hopefully the fact that it is one of the few places with a full liguor license will persuade the owners or new owners to keep it a restaurant... it has always been such a nifty site

Posted by: megan | Feb 5, 2006 5:46:05 PM

I thought that the station was owned by NJ transit.

Posted by: badd_patti | Feb 5, 2006 9:07:09 PM

I believe the station is owned by Transit, and leased to the restaurant.

NJ Transit had an officer on site during my visits this afternoon. He was sitting in his car during my stops.

This misfortune offers Montclair the opportunity to create a new station appropriate to the neighborhood.

Posted by: Paul from OB | Feb 5, 2006 9:20:55 PM

I'm sure transit will submit to the more important developer interest at stake here and support private dwellings.

Trouble is, with the minimal sound of the train each morning the asking price will have to be trimmed a bit.

Perhaps a $1.5 mil start?

I think that a nice photoshop job on the business district to add the neccessary foilage will create a very nice view of the property looking east.

Park slopers are queueing up already....

Posted by: offhand | Feb 5, 2006 10:29:38 PM


Wow, you are a silly goose. I think it is awesome that you have no idea about who owns the site [Essex County] or how much revenue they recieve from the businesses that let the space along with the included liquor license. But it still fails to preclude you from making a comment.

/Here's to the democracy of the interwebs!
//You are indeed a silly goose.

Posted by: Eddie Shore | Feb 5, 2006 11:53:42 PM

in my haste I wrote Essex County instead of the state of NJ please excuse me.

Posted by: Eddie Shore | Feb 5, 2006 11:59:32 PM

It will be interesting to see how the historical station is 'redeveloped'.

Hopefully NJT and township officials will do the right thing and move quickly to restore the station and adhere to its original design!

Posted by: Franklin | Feb 6, 2006 7:42:23 AM

I commuted from that station during the 1985-1999 period. I always loved the architecture of it. Wooden buildings are beautiful but inherently non-fireproof. I would hope that an exact replica would go back up in its place. I just found this morning and drove over first thing. Sad day.

Posted by: DS | Feb 6, 2006 10:15:02 AM

I didn't know where the fire trucks were going to early Sunday morning (I live on Lorraine) and didn't see the station till I went there to catch my train this morning. I'm devasted.

That station was so beautiful and one of the real landmarks of this town. I am so afraid it will not be rebuilt as it was. Already this morning when speaking to a NJ Transit worker who was "guarding" the site, he started railing against the historical society and how they "interfere" and "don't let you do anything" and that it will "take years" to rebuild if they're involved. My reply is that without the historical society you end up with mcmansions on the Marlboro Inn.

Posted by: susanr5 | Feb 6, 2006 10:37:34 AM

That's really sad. It was a beautiful building and I heartily agree that the owners and staff are really very nice folks. I hope they can find a new place to reopen.

Posted by: State Street Pete | Feb 6, 2006 10:44:28 AM

If you're interested in seeing what a new rendition of a classic Erie station looks like - check out Mountain View.

Completed in 1995, I believe. On the corner of US 202 and the railroad in Mountain View center. About two miles north of Willowbrook, just off NJ 23.

I think it would be a significant asset to Upper Montclair.

Posted by: Paul from OB | Feb 6, 2006 11:04:37 AM

devasted = devastated.

A slip in my devotion to removing the extra "ta" from annoying words...

Posted by: susanr5 | Feb 6, 2006 11:21:43 AM

There's no way the interior could be replicated to the detail I recall from my many dining experiences, beginning with Lotsa Pasta. It's a tragic loss to historic preservation and ironic that utilizing this structure to preserve it caused this unexpected demise.

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