Essex Fells, N.J.: ‘It’s Very Norman Rockwell’
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Essex Fells, N.J.: ‘It’s Very Norman Rockwell’

After spending most of her adult life working abroad, moving to Brooklyn and starting a family, Christina Piocosta-Lahu found Might Go home again Last summer, she moved back to Essex Fells, the small northern New Jersey suburb where she grew up.

Ms. PioCosta-Lahue, 42, and her husband, Emmett Williams, 58, who have one toddler and another child on the way, traded a small apartment in Brownford in which they own a plaster colonial on 1.26 acres Is the owner of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Payment of $ 1.087 million. They also searched in Montclair, which was about five miles east, but comparable homes were found to be more expensive and on smaller lots.

His move-in-finished home, with four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms, is close to his parents and the home his grandparents built six decades ago. “My parents still live in the house where I grew up, around the block,” said Ms. PioCosta-Lahue, now close to her job in her family’s commercial real estate business in Fairfield, N.J. Mr. Williams , An independent property investor, works from home

Second-, third-, and even fourth-generation residents are common in the burrows of Essex Fells in western Essex County. “You see people who grew up in the city, and when they start a family, they move back,” said Edward Davis, a corporate lawyer and post-part-time mayor of 2018. a family.”

The Essex Fells are considered by the 1928 ordinance to be one of the county’s most wanted areas, devoid of its highly-regarded school system, lavish old homes and a close-knit community of a commercial district.

“It’s very Norman Rockwell – it’s like being in a little fairy tale,” said Dana Schwerne of Compass, a listing agent for the house Ms. Piacosta-Lahu bought, and a resident herself. Ms. Shverne and her family moved to the Essex Fells five years before Glen Ridge; They have a large piece of property, she said, but they pay less than half of what they paid in property taxes.

Despite the absence of businesses, Essex Fells has succeeded in checking taxes, largely because of the utility it operates. The owners of North Caldwell, Caldwell and Roseland supply water from 16 wells. It also shares some public services with its neighbors, including emergency dispatch and municipal courts, although it maintains its own police force and volunteer fire department.

The relatively low tax rate was only part of the attraction for Lauren and Amy Grossman, who moved to the Essex Fells in the summer. He sold his seven-bedroom Colonial Revival home on a third of an acre in Montclair for $ 1.3 million and bought a four-bedroom midcentury house on one acre for about $ 750,000.

“It checked a lot of boxes for us,” said Mr. Grossman, 56, the marketing strategy company’s chief strategy officer.

In particular, he said, he appreciates living in a quiet environment while maintaining proximity to friends, shops and restaurants in Montclair. And he likes to keep a large piece of property, which means that he and his wife can add a pool, in addition to other renovations. He said, “We were able to develop the space to fit our lifestyle. ”

With approximately 2,100 inhabitants in a 1.3 square mile hilly, tree-lined area, Essex Fells is the smallest municipality in Essex County. And because it has no commercial cities, it may seem somewhat hidden in densely populated areas, including Caldwell, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange.

Edward P., a lawyer in Manhattan. “It’s such a joke that nobody knows where we are,” said Abbott. “We are in a very dense county, and we enjoy the atmosphere of living in a small town.”

The heart of the community can be reached from the busy Bloomfield and Eagle Rock Avens. There are two main roads within the borough that run parallel – Fells Road and Roseland Avenue – as well as numerous winding roads with lush greenery, old homes and a generous supply of public space.

The housing stock of 750 or so houses consists almost entirely of single-family detached residences, including medieval ranches, capes, prewar colonials, and Tudor estates. Some are mired in history. Mr. Abbott and his wife, Jill Abbott, who moved to Essex Fells in 1992, said they had been part of an inn in 1910, colonial-run by Martha Mess, a regime for the children of President James A. Garfield.

Property in Essex Fells is not cheap. As of 2020, the average selling price of 49 homes sold was $ 1.031 million Garden State Multiple Listing Service.

However, off-market sales are not included. “Essex Fells of Private Sales Has a History,” Roberta Baldwin, an agent with Keller Williams, based in Montclair. “Some are within families.”

In mid-February, there were nine homes on the market, according to the listing service, ranging from a three-bedroom ranch built on half an acre in 1949, listed for $ 679,000, a Tudor-style property in 1906, with three bedrooms and a half acre. Land, listed for $ 3.49 million.

“There is not much inventory at any given time,” said Ms. Shverne of Compass, noting that residents tend to stay for years.

In addition, many people are working from home due to the epidemic, “the city had become more in demand,” she said: “Many people prefer larger homes. They want more multilingual lives.”

Fares are relatively low. Houses are provided for rent along with townhouse units in the Brownstones of the Essex Fells complex on Bloomfield Avenue, which is simply affordable housing. A two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom apartment was recently offered for $ 3,400 per month.

Fells Road, Talab, is a popular gathering place in winter when it fills and freezes. Mayor Mr. Davis recalled hockey games and the annual ice-skating race there, while Ms. Piocosta-Lahu and her mother, Robin Piocosta-Lahu, both recalled memories of skating with friends. “Every day after school I would go to the skating pond,” Robin Piocosta-Lahu said.

Other well-traffic public places include Grover Cleveland Park, which shares boroughs along the Caldwell and Trotter Tract Woodland Trail, near playgrounds at Ald Field, where Robin Piocosta-Lahu loves to walk his three dogs Huh. Both are in the northwestern part of the city.

Social activities, including auctions and picnics, are offered through local groups such as the Parent Teacher Association and the Volunteer Fire Department. Many residents belong to the Essex Fells Country Club on Devon Road, or the Fells Brook Club, which has tennis courts and a pool road.

Essex Fells School on Hawthorne Road is one of the top-ranked public schools in the state for math and reading proficiency. There are about 250 students enrolled in prekindergarten through sixth grade. Epidemic learning continues in large part due to the small class size.

The West Essex Regional School District serves middle and high school students at Essex Fells, as well as neighboring Fairfield, North Caldwell and Roseland.

West Essex High School offers several advanced placement classes to its more than 1,100 students, and has a 97 percent graduation rate. The average SAT scores for the 2018–19 school year were 579 in reading and writing and 588 in mathematics, while 539 and 541 were statewide.

Essex Fells is about 24 miles from midtown Manhattan, or about 45 minutes to an hour by car depending on traffic.

Many residents are currently working remotely, although some, such as Mr. Abbott, work regularly in offices in New York. He often catches a PATH train at Harrison Station, off Interstate 280, about a 20-minute drive from the city. A trip to Lower Manhattan takes about 20 minutes and a monthly pass costs $ 2.75 one way or $ 110.

Mr. Grossman, who also takes the PATH train, said he was able to shave 10 to 15 minutes for his last commute from Montclair to the Financial District, where he took the New Jersey Transit train to the PATH train in Hobrain. Some commuters to Midtown or Upper Manhattan opted for a 40-minute ride on the New Jersey Transit from Montclair to Pennsylvania Station.

Bus service, but DeCamp Bus Lines, Is currently not an option, as service was suspended in the summer due to fewer riders.

Once part of Caldwell Township, the Essex Fells were incorporated as a separate bore in 1902. Its name was Essex County and John R. Is derived from Fell, who is the majority stakeholder of the development company responsible for community planning. (“Eiffels” also refers to the mountainous region of the area.)

Mr. Fell’s father-in-law, prominent Philadelphia banker Anthony Joseph Drexel, proposed developing homes in the area after learning that the Pennsylvania Railroad would expand service there. He purchased 1,000 acres in 1888, and later hired a landscape architect to lay the roads. The railroad came in 1902, although train service was discontinued in 1966.

Notable residents include singers Connie Francis and Johnny Sylvester, to whom Babe Ruth promised to drive home during the 1926 World Series.


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