Montclair History: Afterglow “Knocks a Homer”

Afterglow

Afterglow, a panoramic neighborhood at the top of the mountain in Montclair, is one of those magical places of rare and outstanding beauty, especially for its characteristic mountain top sunsets. The legendary yellow brick road, that rises steeply from Bloomfield Avenue behind MKA, is a vintage technological feature thought to facilitate the assent by car in an era before the invention of fuel ejectors. Still at the beginning of the 20th century, Montclair was considered a “climatic station” a health resort destination for New York’s rich and famous. While the nearby, five star, Montclair Inn and the Mononomock Inn of Caldwell were thriving as a world class resorts and the big band era’s Meadowbrook Club was in full swing in Cedar Grove, Afterglow began to populate with luxurious mountain top weekend getaway estates. And long before baseball legend Yogi Berra moved to Montclair, there was Belleclaire, an Afterglow estate that served as a Yankee’s Association headquarters, hosting baseball legends Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth are among the legends of Afterglow at the estate that was rented to the Yankee’s Organization manager George Weiss, according to local historian Robert Williams and journalist Phil Read. Weiss’s home at Belleclaire, was quite the Yankee’s hangout and considered a healthy mountaintop retreat.

At the time of Lou Gehrig’s illness, after he lost his home in Rochester in foreclosure, Gehric was brought to stay at Afterglow, thinking the fresh air would help him and Babe Ruth was there all the time to be by his friend’s side. A few years after Gehrig’s passing in 1941, the original house was lost to fire, and is now the site of The Geyer House, a mid century modern “pagoda” as well as other newer estate properties. 

Babe Ruth had a track record of giving hope and preforming “miracles” for those in need. During the 1926 World Series, Babe Ruth promised Johnnie Sylvester, an ailing boy from Essex Fells that he would “knock a homer” for the sick boy in Game 4. Ruth knocked several homers in that game and Johnnie Sylvester became well in time. This local “miracle” is commemorated by a bronze plaque at the site of the former Sylvester Home in Essex Fells.  

The panorama from Afterglow by night

 

Casa Deldra, a historic panoramic mountaintop estate at Afterglow

 

Some more of Afterglow’s mountaintop estates old and new

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article! Informative with great images. I hope to see more local history articles and stories on Baristanet.

  2. Montclair is exceptionally rich in history with 130 listed in Whose Who in America by the 1930s. Im so glad to see this on Baristanet.

  3. Nice historical snapshot. The Afterglow section encompasses many of the finest examples of architecture, culture, and natural historical resources this township has to offer…and maybe preserve. Unfortunately, the just approved Historic Preservation Element of the Master Plan didn’t seem to think so. Our HP consultants surveyed the area, but the outcome was it did not make the Element’s list for further study or action. Too bad.

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