Grove Street Backstory


You watched it get built; now it’s up for sale. The new Montclair home, located at 427 Grove Street, between Wildwood and Chester, is described a five bedroom, three and a half bath colonial. Priced at $1,250,000, it’s a far cry from the home it replaced…

427grove The "before" house (left), sold for $406,000 in February 2005, and was marketed as:

Builders/contractors SPECIAL!!!Great Upper Montclair location near Brookdale Park. No working furnace, roof is leaking, 2 non-working bathrooms.Sold strictly as is! Value in the land.Walk propery first!

The original taxes were $10 grand and change. New taxes have not been determined, but the property size is 76 X 150.

If the new house fetches anywhere near its asking price, it will set a new high for Grove Street (besides making the developers a pretty profit). The highest recorded sale for Grove Street was $890,000 in 2004.

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.


  1. latebloomer, you’re commenting on the new construction, right?
    This structure is a boil on the ass of montclair. Not to worry though, as Plofkerville north, (Grove and Watchung, to differentiate from Plofkerville south on the corner of Union St. and So. Fullerton,) is not far behind in the extreme fugathon, montclair tract mansion edition.

  2. Yes, helltoupee, I’m referring to the new one. “Boil on the ass” sounds apt.
    And yes, I too am watching with horror as the megaliths arise from the dirt of Grove and Watchung.
    PS– I like your moniker!

  3. I actually think the house looks fine. What is wrong with it? Its not terribly huge or out of character. The original house was in shambles. How is this not an improvement?
    I have said this on this site before, why does any new construction have to be a bad thing?
    Clearly some is, like the ridiculously large and on top of each other houses at the old Marlboro Inn site.

  4. girl, not all new construction is bad. As a matter of fact, some can be quite nice, but it tends to be the exception rather than the rule.
    That thing, however, is hideous.

  5. Not all new construction is bad, but there are clear issues here.
    The first is the relationship of this structure to neighboring buildings – context. This house is (if memory serves) much closer to the street than the adjacent home, especially the home across the street. As such, it is a jarring visual on the street scape.
    There is no ‘air’ around the structure on the property.
    Similarly, the garage appears as a goiter on the front of the building. It is, at best, awkward. To my eye (and all this is subjective, but design principles are evolved over time for good reason) the goiter is grotesque.
    The odd configuration of the driveway has necessitated a paved front lawn area, with the car parked there this ‘house’ is more like a commercial building on a highway than a home.
    The ‘landscaping’ can most easily be changed, but rather than a natural landscape or an Olmsteadian lawn, this looks like they tossed some meatballs and a couple of penises around and called it done.
    The fenestration is awful and not at all visually balanced, the garage windows look like a festering sore on the goiter. One can only imagine what that is going to look like once a family moves in and that opening is dressed with gear or after the garage widow treatment gets dirty.
    I can’t even begin to fathom the cupola on the garage. A goiter on the festering goiter with small festers? can there be a room up there?
    The faux stone and faux siding make no sense architecturally. Most architectural styles evolve out of building techniques and have a natural rhythm. In this case they are just slapped on and bland.
    Nothing says fake more than a chimney covered in vinyl siding.
    There might be some craftsman details, but what is with the New Jersey Italianate columns? Did they build this house as a location for ‘The Sopranos?’
    It could be worse, but it could most assuredly be much, much better.
    In a town that prides itself on its artistic heritage, this type of construction is a real shame. Especially when there are many talented architects still living or practising in Montclair.

  6. I’ll never look at an out of place copula in quite the same way. Thank you for that stunning visual.

  7. If that house is a “Colonial,” Thomas Jefferson is doing the Whirling Dervish Boogie in his grave. Actually, he probably is anyway…

  8. Happy New Year All! Question: Any infor on what’s going up on Harrison at the site of the old Montclair Community Hospital? Even “No” response would be helpful as I am not sure if anyone even reads my comments at all. So acknowledgements are appreciated.
    Thanks! Voneandonly

  9. latebloomer, now you know that anything ending in an “e” is a beautiful thing.
    Shoppe, towne, olde, etc. Doesn’t that just drip of wonderfulness. And so very chic. Isn’t that the area now referred to as “Montclair Heights”?
    I guess townhouse is bad word now.

  10. Kevin – fabulous explanation! Thanks for putting into words what uninitiated folks such as myself can’t describe… other than to say “it just doesn’t look right”.
    What’s your take on the construction going on at the corner of Midland and Walnut?

  11. I live nearby on Grove and yes, it’s better than what was there and no I don’t like it. BUT, I could drive down any number of streets in town and find many ugly homes (and some folks to match ;).
    We are blessed with a 100+ year-old house and hate all others built even hours later.. jk…
    The point about the garage is curious, but I think I have it figured out: sound. Having the garage like that will act as a buffer for the din of Grove St. Living on this street with this noise forces one to do a lot to avoid it and frankly if I could put a structure between me and it, I’d be happy.
    And really, what’s not to love about an asphalt front yard– no mowing needed, you can sweep up the leaves- so no gas blowers which upset everyone, you save on watering.

  12. Kay, yesterday I re-visited the November barista thread about the Midland/Walnut travesty– did you see it?– some interesting comments there. When you get there click on the November 19 “Shoehorn” entry.I clinked on the developer’s link and saw that the renovated house has now been priced at $1.695 mill– the new McMansion hasn’t been priced yet.
    The renovation of the old house isn’t too bad, despite the back yard being eliminated, and the anachronistic 2-car garage being added, but the new one is truly offensive– this huge out-of-character hulk squeezed onto a tiny lot so you feel like you have to step across the street to view it properly.

  13. A garage might be good soundproofing, but it is not good design.
    I make all of my comments based on the simple idea that when we build, we should build to make our world better.
    In the neighborhood where this house is located, many homes are set back some distance from the road, others have hedges or other plantings, some a tree buffer between the structure and the road.
    This is about context, it would wrong to place a large, stark modern structure in this neighborhood, so close to the nearby buildings. It is equally wrong to place a building that has a certain amount of faux gradeau, but is a huge mass, near other more elegant structures.
    It is also wrong to disrupt the overall pattern of the neighborhood.
    I have never understood the fascination with placing large garages with the huge doors in the front of the house. They become an overriding design element and they are like garbage can or white goods, something you should want to hide.
    This house would be much better, seeming a bit smaller, with a side drive or a port cochere with a garage hidden from the street.

  14. Kay,
    I went by Midland and Walnut yesterday, so I took a few pictures for reference. I have posted them here:
    Sorry, it seems I can’t insert this code here.
    In any event, the original house is handsome and sturdy looking. And the original plot of land bridged two different kinds of neighborhoods. The corner lot and open space served several purposes, one to help create the park like setting around the larger homes on the Avenue, another to provide some space between the larger homes and the smaller homes on Walnut Street.
    When Frederick Law Olmstead designed the first modern suburb, as we know them, in the Chicago area, he theorized that the adjacent lawns would create a large park like setting and that the open, rolling acres would make each property appear larger while framing the homes.
    Even though many are now offices, this visual is in effect on this stretch of Midland Avenue. just remove the signs.
    The corner lot allowed a gentle entry to the lawn/park.
    Like many older structures, the original home in not a simple box, it has some variation in mass and cladding. It is unfortunate that the new windows are simple large panes, they appear like gapping holes in the building. It is also unfortunate that in the absence of any Historic Preservation codes, the railing had to be replaced with what appear to prison bars across the lower front of the first floor.
    The addition is a simple box. Easy to build. Fast to build. Boring. But, what is with the copper roof? The pyramid? And the curved top windows. I guess these are all ‘features’ the builder threw in for marketing, certainly not good composition. Good composition is about repetition of details and focus. Here we have focus, but it looks like the builder kept throwing things he had left over from other jobs at this poor building.
    Of course, the windows over look, well, nothing, since the window room is built ON the part of the property that might have been landscaped. Now a new owner can enjoy this room and over look the apartment buildings across the street.
    The side of this building introduces the garage as goiter and reminds us that, especially on corners, there are no fronts and backs. Everybody sees some side(s) of a building.
    The Walnut side is really weird, with the window room cantilevered off of the foundation. Does this skit some zoning issue? What is the separation between the window room and the garage? Are there windows overlooking the side of the garage, 2′ away? Is this supposed to look like these were different additions made at different times?
    At Least the snout of the garage bays breaks up the lump of the garage addition.
    While massive, I think this is certainly better looking than the new project(s) on Grove Street. To me the biggest issue here is placement on the property and the (now) lack of property and ‘air’ around this building to properly see the structure.
    The second structure is less interesting, probably because it did not start with good genes. First there is the issue of proximity to the Midland house, occupying what was once lawn and buffer between Midland and the smaller structures on Walnut. Second there is the issue of the scale. While this house is now as close as the smaller neighboring properties, it is at least twice as big.
    So what was once a buffer zone between different types of neighborhoods is now a clogged artery damaging each neighbor.
    This building, again, looks like it was made with left over parts. The fenestration is awful, I imagine each room will be cell like, without the neighbor’s actual bars. The windows over the front door are of different heights and too small.
    This is a big box with minimal interest in the overall shape. It looks fat and clunky.
    Many typical Montclair Center Hall Colonials are probably this size, by they are designed with the appearance of weight on the bottom, getting lighter and airier with each floor. Challenging, to say the least with the huge Gambrel roofs.
    This house is just huge and squeezed in by the neighbors.
    Of course any opinions about design and taste are subjective. Someone is probably going to pay a stupid amount of money for these homes and the builder can shrug off what I say on his way to the bank.
    I guess if there was sufficient art education in the schools, maybe there would be no buyers for this kind of poorly thought through development.

  15. Kevin:
    Once again many thanks for your design commentary and photos! Truly enlightening. Too bad our local developers don’t consult with you first before marring our otherwise beautiful neighborhoods. And that mis-aligned window is pretty telling, though it certainly takes an expert to point it out.
    Thanks again-

  16. I heard the house has been purchased. I wonder what the selling price was. Did anyone see the inside? The asking price of $1.2 million seems very, very steep for a house on Grove. Yes, the house is completely new, but what a shame, as it really has no character whatsoever.

  17. How about listing the names of the architects(?) & contractor for all of the new places. The new 427 Grove house is hideous and I think the “designer’s” names should be listed so they can take full responsibility for such obscenities.

Comments are closed.