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!

24 Prospect Terrace (at corner of Hawthorne Place)

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.

Markers on Gates Avenue near Hawthorne Place

A Facebook reader writes that she was haunted by those gateposts at Terraces, No. 24, too. T. Albeus Adams, who was once chairman of the New Jersey Tunnel Commission, lived at 24 Prospect Terrace.

9 replies on “Gatepost “Ghosts” Mark Montclair’s First Estate Section”

  1. When we were house hunting almost 20 years ago. 24 Prospect Terrace was on the market. The asking price was in the $400K range. The realtor arrived early to walk through the property before we got there. As he was walking room to room, he felt the presence of someone else in the room. He turned around and actually screamed. Standing in front of him was Frank, the semi-homeless guy who used to hang around Church Street years ago. Frank told him to calm down and left.
    The house had loads of potential but we didn’t have the money to do all of the work it needed.

  2. I LOVE this story about Gatepost “Ghosts”!

    Its a perfect example of our Baristaville/Addams Family connection! Charles Addams, from nearby Westfield NJ, depicts a certain monster like landscape that surrounds us here in the older suburbs around NYC….it shows how certain “eccentric kooks”, from our good old local families that lapse into “gentlemanly shabbiness” and even apparent insanity, with the passing of generations, while their fine old glamourous lifestyle of suburban homesteads, gets subdivided and recycled into modern suburbia! This is a brilliant and hilarious American portrait and PERFECTLY describes our Baristaville landscape.


    “Thanks to Baristaville’s local historian Frank Gerard Godlewski (aka FGG) for this Halloween greeting:
    Among the pages of the 1922 Montclair Times Houses Collection, this retouched photo stands out as an almost perfect imitation of The Addams Family House. Did Charles Addams actually mischievously insert one of his “New Yorker” cartoons into our community photo book? Probably not, but this is remarkably ironic! https://www.stantonrealtors.com/gallery/Historic-Homes/204_Ridgewood
    Baristaville does have a strong connection with the Addams Family however. Addams’ work is a satirical view of suburban NJ’s “nightmare landscape” and modeled after the artist’s hometown of nearby Westfield. Leafing through Addams’ insane drawings we realize that this is our landscape of quaint, hilly little towns occasionally dotted with crumbling gothic mansions that peer out from behind bare deciduous tree limbs.”

    Here is our own Adams House on Prospect Terrace, (notice the estate posts) and the unfortunate story of the neighbor, Mr. Jaeger’s falling out of a window, and Frank, the Church Street homeless man who opens the door for the Real Estate agent ….. its all very Addams Family!!!!!

  3. …come to think of it…next to my Grandparent’s place in Berkeley Heights Park, there is an Addams Familyesque house with a round tower where the neighbor apparently jumped from…
    …to add to the ghostly atmosphere, there has never been any sightings of life in or around that house….
    My grandmother did say that she saw a spaceship land and park behind a neighbor’s Oldsmobile one summer’s night!!!! (that would make a great Addams family episode!!!!)

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