If you ever walked downtown and stumbled upon a tiny block called Prospect Terrace, you may have felt like you were stepping into Montclair’s past. You were.
Prospect Terrace, situated between Union Street and Hawthorne Place and parallel to Gates Ave., is a preserved pocket of some magnificent homes from Montclair’s original estate section. The streets surrounding Prospect Terrace loom large with apartment buildings. Walking down Hawthorne Place toward Gates are these mysterious gatepost markers jutting out incongruously next to more modern buildings. Local historian Frank Gerard Godlewski explains why…
Prospect Terrace was subdivided from the Pratt Estate, the finest property of its day. Mr. Pratt invented the name Montclair because he felt the the name West Bloomfield would not attract enough fancy Gilded Age millionaires. The manor house is now Martin’s Funeral home. This was the first estate section.
Hawthorne Towers (the apartment house) was one of the most incredible estates in town. There was a HUGE english baronial mansion that belonged to the Rand family who built the Montclair Art Museum. All of the stone gateposts you see [on Hawthorne and Gates] are leftovers from the estates that were then subdivided. Those markers are Crane Brownstone, mined in Glen Ridge!
I first discovered Prospect Terrace a couple years ago, when a homeowner opened their home for a house tour. Recently, I was reminded of the street when this Prospect Terrace home came on the market. Get a load of the dining room!
In the New York Times archives, the street gets more than a few cameos. Heiress Lilly Belle Jaeger, daughter of millionaire plush manufacturer Otto Jaeger, lived at 15 Prospect Terrace, a house that was described as the “show place of the town.” Jaeger died mysteriously, falling seven stories from an Atlantic City hotel. And some things never change in Montclair; rezoning plans for the area caused controversy back in 1938, according to the New York Times.