Local Historic Sites & Districts
In 1990, the Planning Board and Mayor and Council approved the recommendation of the Historic Preservation Commission to designate local historic sites, thereby incorporating the recommendation into the local zoning code.
Eight sites were designated in 1995 and an additional site was added in 2002 after review and public hearings:
- Tenafly Railroad Station, Town Center
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, 135 Highwood Avenue
- Roelof Westervelt House, 81 Westervelt Avenue
- Christie Parsels House, 195 Jefferson Avenue
- Sickles-Melbourne House, 48 Knoll Road
- Demarest-Lyle House, 91 West Clinton Avenue
- Theodore Roosevelt Monument, Roosevelt Common
- The Palisades, Hudson River
- Cotswold Mansion, Carriage House and Entrance Gate, 1 Byrne Lane, 40 Inness Road
To preserve the architectural and historic significance of streetscapes, the Mayor and Council, at the recommendation of the Historic Preservation Commission, designated Atwood's Highwood Park and Magnolia Avenue as residential historic districts.
Atwood's Highwood Park District was designated by the Borough in 1997 as the first residential historic district. It encompasses parts of Engle Street, Serpentine Road, Valley Place, Linden Street and Huyler Avenue and is located southeast of the Atwood Railroad Station, the Borough's signature landmark. The District has seven homes associated with Daniel Topping Atwood's work as well as Victorian gems designed by others.
The Magnolia Avenue Historic District, designated in 2000, encompasses both sides of Magnolia Avenue between Hillside Avenue on the south and Highwood Avenue on the north. Magnolia Avenue's homes, built between 1880 and 1930, contain an excellent collection of Victorian and Period architecture. Local lawyer Ashbel Green originally developed the area to attract middle class and wealthy New Yorkers to the Borough, only recently made accessible by train. The neighborhood is characterized by deep setbacks, two and one-half story heights, open porches and mature trees.
Tenafly Railroad Station
The Tenafly Railroad Station, a widely admired landmark and symbol of the Borough, completed in 1874. Daniel Topping Atwood, a New York based architect, who designed and built many homes on Huyler Avenue and Serpentine Road, designed the stone structure in what is now called High Victorian Gothic. The station remains a monument to Tenafly's evolution from farming community to an elegant commuter suburb. Bought by the Borough in 1962, and rented to various retail enterprises since 1966, when commuter service ended, Tenafly sponsored the station's restoration in 1994 with matching New Jersey Historic Trust funds. On National and State Registers of Historic Places and Historic American Buildings Survey. Marked by a Bergen County Historical Society Plaque. Owned by the Borough.
The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House
135 Highwvood Ave.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, viewed as "the leading intellectual force in the emancipation of American women," by historian Eleanor Flexner, made her home in this stately two-story white painted frame house between about 1868 and 1887. The house is noteworthy for its slate mansard roof, Greek Revival portico, portecochere and eleven gabled dormers. Colonial Revival elements have been added to the original Victorian Mansard styling. It was at this residence that Stanton co-authored, with Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, the first three volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage, 1881-1885. From here Stanton, with Anthony , made the futile effort to vote at the Tenafly polls, in 1880. National Historic Landmark, on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Marked by a New Jersey State Historical Plaque. Privately owned.
The Theodore Roosevelt Monument
The stone monument, honoring the twenty-sixth president of the United States and situated in a grove of trees, is in Roosevelt Common north of Riveredge Road and east of Jefferson Avenue. Sculptor Trygve Hammer produced carvings of Theodore Roosevelt sitting in the company of eagles and bears and sayings associated with him. One quotation reads: "The great man is always the man of mighty effort." The Mackay Family, Malcom S. and his sister Jennie, choosing to honor the late president because of his beliefs in conservation and parks, donated twenty-eight acres to the Tenafly Board of Education in 1924. Majorie Sewell Cautley, a pioneering landscape designer, emphasized natural space and native plantings with recreation areas, a skating rink and outdoor theater, in her original Common designs. Cautley was later known for her work in the Garden City Movement and "Radburn" in Fair Lawn. The monument is a focal point for many of the activities that take place at the Common. Owned by the Borough.
195 Jefferson Avenue
Two colonial families, Christie and Parsels, built the original structure. In 1791, William Christie bought 100 acres in Tenafly and in 1804 built the original red sandstone wing of the house. Samuel Parsels built the Jefferson Avenue portion, in 1836, of similar stone. Other early owners include the Coles, who had forebearers on both sides in the American Revolution, and the Newcombs. Later additions have complemented the historic structure, while the landscaping has utilized stone cut in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and brought recently to the grounds. On the National and State Registers of Historic Places and Historic American Buildings Survey. Marked by a Bergen County Historical Society Plaque. Privately Owned.
David Demarest, in 1677, obtained a tract from the Hackensack River to the Tenakill Brook, in agreements with Governor Carteret and the Indians. The Demarest-Lyle House is located on the eastern edge. According to deeds, a house may have been here as early as 1794. A namesake of the original lived here in the mid-nineteenth century.
Demarest-Lyle House 91
West Clinton Avenue
The Borough acquired land from the Lyle Family, who had owned the tract, for the municipal center in 1946. The center section is probably older than the eastern section. The property's hand-crafted brownstone facades and random mortar joints continue to remind us of the finest building traditions of the past. After extensive rehabilitation, the house became occupied in late 2000 as professional office space. The following year, the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office conferred an Historic Preservation Award for the excellence of its "adaptive reuse" including a new contemporary annex. The restoration retains the building's pre-Civil War era hand-carved brownstown facades. On the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Privately owned.
Roelof Westervelt House
81 Westervelt Avenue
Of Tenafly's four stone houses, on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, the Roelof Westervelt is the oldest. The house's southern portion, featuring a steep pitched roof over red sandstones, may date to 1745 when Roelof Westervelt was married. A gambrel roof covers the center stone section, which was built about 1798-1800 by Daniel Westervelt. Family descendants owned the property until 1923. Later it was owned by the Tenafly Weavers, who set up looms in the loft and sold antiques and tea on the ground floor. The house is significant for its architecture and association with Bergen Countys exploration and settlement. On the National and State Registers of Historic Places and Historic American Buildings Survey. Marked by a Bergen County Historical Society Plaque. Privately Owned.
The Sickels-Melbourne House
48 Knoll Road
This fine example of an early eighteenth century regional sandstone house retains many original features, including the front door and a fireplace mantel of hand-made bricks and Dutch tiles. Artist Montgomery Melbourne saved the structure from demolition between 1938-1940, had it moved from Rockland County, New York and reconstructed with the original stones at its Knoll Road location, which overlooks a ravine and brook. William Sickels (ca. 1736-1768), a justice of the peace in what is now Rockland County, was one of its earliest owners. Historic American Building Survey. Privately Owned.
In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed by the Palisades discovering, for the Dutch, land which became Tenafly. In 1688, Jacobus Van Cortlandt, whose patent extended from the Hudson River to the Tenakill Brook, viewed the area as a potential source of timber, stone and furs. Van Cortlandt gave the land to his daughters, Margaret De Peyster, Mary Jay and Ann Chambers, and their husbands. While no major military action took place during the American Revolution in the Tenafly area of the Palisades, the Cliffs were a factor enabling Americans to escape during the Retreat from Fort Lee. Recognition should be accorded to the New Jersey Foundation of Womens Clubs which lobbied successfully for legislation establishing the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC).
This landmark 1900 event put an end to the quarrying and other assaults on the pristine character of the Palisades. With crucial support from Rockefellers, Harrimans, Perkins, Morgans, et. al., the PIPC bought its first 14 miles of property. During the New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration continued conservation work. Today the Palisades and their environs remain in their natural state and overseeing all are the first "Tenaflyers:" hawks, eagles, owls, blue jays, gulls and other birds. National Historic Landmark and National Natural Landmark.
Cotswold (pictured at left), the 1925 mansion built by investment banker Herbert Coppell in English Medieval Country Home Revival style, was described in the 1982-1983 Bergen County Historic Sites Survey as "one of Tenafly's most imposing examples of twentieth century Period Revival residential architecture." This celebrated building displays high quality materials, craftsmanship and numerous notable architecural details. In 1934, the mansion and carriage house were approved for conversion to up to fourteen apartments. Cotswold was the World War II home of Big Band great and Army Major Glenn Miller and it was where Mrs. Miller learned of the disappearance of her husband's plane over the English Channel on Christmas Eve 1944. Multi-family residence, privately owned.
Atwood's Highwood Park Historic District includes 168 Serpentine Road
(pictured below), which is the District's signature home. The home was architect Daniel Topping Atwood's Design One in his 1871 book, Country and Suburban Homes. This striking Gothic structure showcases high steep roofs and two massive cross-gables on a T-shaped plan. The Atwood design at 183 Serpentine, once the home of Henry Palmer, Tenafly's first Mayor, features "a polygonal projecting second story central bay with high roof." Additional Atwood homes are at: 167 Serpentine; 20 Linden Street and 3, 4, 10 Huyler Avenue. Victorian features also adorn 172 and 201 Serpentine, 12 Valley Place and 7 Huyler Avenue. Plans for the stone house at 191 Serpentine, designed by Fred C. Winter, were published in 1908. Davis Johnson Park, a bequest to the Borough by Alliene Davis Johnson, comprises a graceful horticulural entrance to the District. Foundations of two grand homes, parts of which date back to Atwood's day, are incorporated into the landscaping. Privately owned.
The Magnolia Avenue Historic District's centerpiece structure, at 55 Magnolia, "the old stone chapel" (pictured at left) of the Presbyterian Church, was built between 1866 and 1870 in Gothic Revival style. Designed by George E. Woodward, best known for Woodward's Country Homes (1865) and Woodward's National Architect (1869), it was the first church to be constructed in Tenafly and is built of gray brown, random ashlar masonry, with contrasting brownstone used for the quoins (cornerstones) and window surrounds. The steeply pitched single bay nave is ornamented with a two tiered, square corner tower on the southwest. Additional Gothic Revival ornamentation includes stone buttresses, stone coping (protective caps) at the edges of the slate roof and stained glass windows produced by the nationally known Lamb Studios. Woodward was a major disseminator of mid-nineteenth century romantic architectural systles suitable for country, suburban and village houses. Privately owned.
Most exterior changes to designated sites or homes within designated Districts require review and approval from the Historic Preservation Commission. For more information, contact the Historic Preservation Board Secretary at 201-568-6100, ext. 5454.