Historic Home – FAQ
For information on federal tax incentives please visit the NJ State Historic Preservation Office’s website page which discusses this topic.
There is also pending NJ State legislation in under the Historic Property Reinvestment Act. Visit Preservation New Jersey’s “Take Action” webpage for more details.
A good place to start is at the South Orange Village Hall, 101 South Orange Avenue at the corner of Scotland Road. You can check to see if the Tax Office and the Planning Board have any documents on file pertaining to your property. Any changes to your property which would have required a building permit or variance would be on file with the Planning Board. Permits and variances were not required until the mid to late 1900’s to present; therefore any additions or changes early than that would probably not be on file at Village Hall. Unfortunately, many of the older records for South Orange no longer exist, victims of a past flood.
The South Orange Public Library, Scotland Road, 973-762-0230, www.sopl.orgmaintains an informal archive of maps, tax maps, local atlases, and old phone directories dating back to the late 1800’s. The old phone directories are a great source of information. Most provide a list of phone numbers not only by name of property owner, but also by address (reverse listing). You can look up your address and then turn to the page with the former owner’s name and phone number. The older directories often list the owner’s profession.
A Title search of your property, searching back from current deed to previous deed, and so forth, can provide you with a list of the names of all previous owners to your property. You can complete this title search on your own, or pay a Title Company to complete it for you. All of Essex County’s titles are recorded at the Essex County Hall of Records in Newark. For information, call 973 621 – 4960 or visit their website. The Hall of Records also has a map archive.
Seton Hall University maintains historic archives including old maps, atlases, vintage postcards, and photographs. It was popular, years ago, to photograph homes to be used as postcards.
There are also archives available at the New Jersey Historical Society in Newark, and the New Jersey State archives are located in Trenton. Contact the NJ State Historic Preservation office to find out the location of the state archives in Trenton. The State Historic Preservation office publishes a booklet with further information which pertains to researching the history of your property. In addition, the South Orange Historical & Preservation Society, a village-wide preservation group, also publishes a similar pamphlet.
An Historic District is one or more historic sites and intervening or surrounding property significantly affecting or affected by the quality and character of the historic site or sites. This area shall have a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures and/or objects which, viewed collectively:
- Represent a significant period(s) in the development of the town
- Or have a distinctive character resulting from their architectural style. Resources within an historic district shall be classified as “key”, “contributing”, or “non-contributing”.
The New Jersey Historic Preservation Office defines an historic site as: houses, structures or objects which possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, and association and which have been determined, pursuant to the terms of the ordinance to be any of the following:
- Of particular historic significance to the Village of South Orange by reflecting or exemplifying the broad cultural, political, economic or social history of the nation, state or community; Associated with the historic personages important in national, state or local history; The site of an historic event which had a significant effect on the development of the nation, state or community; An embodiment of the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of architecture or engineering; Representative of the work or works of a locally, regionally or nationally important or recognized builder, designer, artist or architect; Significant for containing elements of design, detail, materials or craftsmanship which represent a significant innovation;
- Able or likely to yield information important in prehistory or history.
A site is defined as real property, whether public or private, with or without improvements, which is the location of a significant event or series of events, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building, structure, or object, or any configuration, portion, or group of the foregoing which has been designated by the Commission as having historical, archeological, cultural, scenic, or architectural significance.
A map of the historic district with a description of the general boundaries is located here. The shaded area of this map indicates the areas of Montrose Park South Orange which are considered to be within the Historic District.
Within this shaded area, there are properties which are considered to be “contributing” to the district (the majority of properties), and some which are considered to be “noncontributing”. Some properties are considered to be “key” properties.
Contributing is defined as any building/s, structure/s, site/s, or object/s that are integral components of the historic district either because they date from a time period for which the district is significant, or because they represent an architectural type, period, or method for which the defined historic district is significant.
Non-Contributing is defined as any building/s, structure/s, site/s, or object/s that are not integral components of a defined historic district because they neither date from a time period for which the district is significant nor represent an architectural type, period, or method of construction for which the district is significant.
(An object is defined as a material thing of functional, aesthetic, cultural, historic, scenic, or scientific value.)
Key is defined as any buildings, structures, sites, or objects which, due to their significance, would individually qualify for landmark status.
An Architectural Survey of properties within the Montrose Park Historic District was completed as a part of the District’s application and nomination for historic status. A copy of this application including the survey and inventory of properties within the historic district is located at the South Orange Public Library and at the Village Administrator’s office located at South Orange Village Hall. You can also read the individual paragraph descriptions for each property in the district inventory via the “District Inventory” page.
According to the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office, an architectural surveyis defined as the process of gathering information about historic architectural resources, including all visible aspects of the built environment that combine to form our historic fabric, including houses, churches, schools, municipal buildings, commercial structures, bridges, canals, farm structures, parks, gardens, street furniture, etc. The Architectural Survey of homes within the Montrose Park Historic District was completed as a part of the District’s application and nomination for historic status. A copy of this application including the survey and inventory of properties is located at the South Orange Public Library and at the Village Administrator’s office located at South Orange Village Hall. In the future, we hope to have the descriptions of properties within the application available on-line.
There are various types of surveys including ‘Windshield Level’, ‘Reconnaissance Level’, and ‘Intensive Level’. The survey noted above is considered to be an intensive level survey.
- Windshield Level Survey, also known as a Reconnaissance Level Survey, includes initial information on local properties including buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts, etc., as well as a preliminary report containing an historic overview of the survey area, survey methodology, and recommendations for further research.
- Intensive Level Survey. In depth documentation of buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts already identified in a Reconnaissance or Windshield level survey.
An inventory is a list of historic properties determined to meet specified criteria of significance.
A Designated Property is defined as any individual building, structure, site, object, or district, which has been designated as having historical, architectural, cultural, aesthetic, or other significance.
A District (also often referred to as “Landmark District”) – is defined as a geographic area with distinctly definable boundaries composed of several buildings or sites which
a) has acquired a unity of character through the interrelationships of the component buildings and sites; and
b) has been designated as having historical, archeological, cultural, scenic, architectural, or other significance.
A Landmark is a building, structure, site, or object which has a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the township, state or nation, and which has been designated as a landmark pursuant to the provisions of the Ordinance.
Historic Preservation is the act or process of applying measures to sustain the existing form, integrity and material of a building or structure, and the existing form and vegetative cover of a site. It may include initial stabilization work, where necessary, as well as ongoing maintenance of the historic building materials.
Restoration is considered to be the historically accurate repair or replacement of architectural features.