Author Topic: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder  (Read 22226 times)

Offline paramus1987

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273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« on: July 13, 2012, 01:43:14 PM »
I'm sorry to report that the historic Zabriskie House located at 273 Dunkerhook in Paramus, the one many of us have been fighting for--and one that the Bergen Record and other media outlets recently reported was saved and being moved to Bergen Community College--was demolished by the builder this morning.  Triple P Plumbing and Heating was seen on site directing traffic as the bucket loader sat perched atop the remains of 300 years of Paramus and Bergen County History.  I took the photos late this morning around 11:30am.  I can't even express the devastation that I feel right now...

Offline pwnorris

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Re: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2012, 02:44:10 PM »
The man in the photos is Sal Petruzelli, a principle partner in Quattro 4, LLC, the developer.  He doesn't look like he's concerned about his role in destroying history.

Following is the text of a news release Joe Suplicki, H. Gelfand, and myself sent to media contacts today.

NEWS RELEASE, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th this month was not only unlucky for historians and preservationists, but disastrous.  The historic house at 273 Dunkerhook Road in Paramus became a pile of dust and rubble while owner and developer Sal Petruzelli of Quattro 4, LLC directed traffic and looked on with dispassionate approval.  What probably took many weeks to build and housed generations of Zabriskies, Stewarts, Siscos, and Bennetts and stood for hundreds of years was demolished in the space of one hour.  This house represented a fine example of Jersey Dutch sandstone architecture, the agricultural past that once was the way of life in Bergen County, and most importantly the intertwined relationships of the whites and African Americans in our past.  This was the last house, but one, of the thriving African American Dunkerhook community that existed for a over century (from the 1820’s to the 1930’s).  A coalition of community members and historians gathered by neighbor Ted Manvell and descendant Tim Harris, fought Quattro’s petition to subdivide the property and demolish the house since July of 2010.  Their fight included testimony at Planning Board hearings (who approved the subdivision and demolition), appeals to the developer (who was at the time a contract buyer), appeals to the owner, publicity in newspapers and online, selection of the house as one of Preservation New Jersey’s 10 Most Endangered in 2011, and court action. 

Quattro  had several options for saving the house, including, creative subdivision of the property.  Freeholder John Mitchell was presently in negotiations with Quattro 4 and Bergen Community College to move the house to the campus to be used as a learning center and educational site for future generations of students and citizens.  Petruzelli and Quattro were unwilling to wait for the details of this option to be worked out and quietly brought a large back hoe to the property Thursday afternoon and began demolition Friday morning.  No arrangements were made with local architects or historians to document the house or salvage any of the 18th and 19th century materials used in its construction.  Quattro was represented throughout this process by Mark Sokolich, a land use lawyer and the Mayor of Fort Lee.  Neither Petruzelli, Quattro, or Sokolich, nor the Borough of Paramus acted as responsible citizens and community members to ensure that future generations would have the Zabriskie Tenant House to contemplate their own history.  Rather, the lesson to our children appears to be that those with money can act however recklessly or selfishly they choose.

Although many people worked very hard to craft a viable solution to save the house, in the end development and personal financial gain won out.  As a heavily built up area we see very little of our historic fabric.  But, for now, it is there if you look.  However every house, commercial building, church, or cemetery that disappears by demolition, or by neglect, or by modern renovations diminishes who we are by erasing our past.  In this case, when a coalition of African American and white community members came forward to save a site critical to our interpretation of African American history in our local community, it is a shame that the greed of a developer overrides the preservation of our past and that workable, win-win solutions are ignored.

For previous threads with background and history see:
http://bergencountyhistory.org/forums/index.php/topic,1732.msg3438.html#msg3438
http://bergencountyhistory.org/forums/index.php/topic,2499.msg3685.html#msg3685

« Last Edit: July 13, 2012, 03:58:55 PM by pwnorris »

Offline Albert

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Re: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2012, 12:23:24 PM »
Zabriskie House demolition underway
Posted on Friday, July 13, 2012 3:34 pm
by John Ensslin, North Jersey Media

« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 12:26:08 PM by Albert »
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Offline pwnorris

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Re: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 07:03:06 PM »
See front-page Record article here:  http://www.northjersey.com/news/071312_Demolition_of_historic_Zabriskie_house_in_Paramus_begins.html

The video really brings it home, what a violent and senseless act this was.

Paramus Patch is also following this story in-depth.
http://paramus.patch.com/articles/historic-zabriskie-home-destroyed-to-make-way-for-luxurious-homes?ncid=newsltuspatc00000003#photo-4749838
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 11:35:18 PM by Albert »

Offline Albert

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Re: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2012, 11:41:52 PM »
Developer Destroys Zabriskie House To Make Luxurious Homes
Despite a developer's wishes, descendants of slave owners and slaves bonded in an attempt to preserve a home tied to the tumultuous history between African-Americans and whites.

By Maxim Almenas
Paramus Patch
July 14, 2012


The Zabriskie Tenant House on Dunkerhook Road a year before the inevitable demolition. Credit Myles Ma

A piece of African-American and Bergen County history was turned to rubble after a Paramus developer chose not to preserve the 18th century structure slated to become a museum.

The rare Dutch sandstone architecture known as the Zabriskie Tenant House at 273 Dunkerhook Road in Paramus was once home to the prominent Zabriskies; one of Bergen County’s founding families; and the Bennett and the Stewart families, slaves that built the structure in 1790.

On Thursday, developer, Quattro 4, LLC, had a backhoe brought onto the property, and by Friday 9am, and without warning, they had most of the classic structure crushed to the ground. Only the staircase that led to the entrance was left standing surrounded by debris.   

Darryl Harris, grandson of Samuel Bennett, one of the original slaves who resided at the home, said Bergen Community College had agreed to move the house to their campus as recent as three weeks ago.

“It [grant] was about to go through, and today were finding out they’re [developer] just knocking the house down,” said Harris, a Paterson resident who teaches science at John F. Kennedy High School in his hometown. “Their lawyer claims he didn’t even know they were knocking it down.”

Mark Sokolich, Fort Lee’s mayor and the attorney representing Quattro 4, LLC, could not be reached for comment.   

A partner in Quattro 4, Marcello Petruzella, told northjersey.com that they had been "super patient" waiting for demolition, and plan to incorporate original materials in the two-home subdivision. Some items of historical significance will be "made available" to the county, he reportedly said.

It's of little consolation to those who have spent years attempting to save the home.   

Tim Harris, the other grandson of Bennett, was distraught by the fact Quattro 4, LLC, who plans to build two large homes on the site, did not allow historians and community leaders attempting to preserve the home and its contents, the opportunity to save some or all of the structure.

“You can touch this. It’s a part of history that’s tangible,” explained Tim Harris. “And that makes it more real than reading a story from a book.”

No one seemed to understand that better than 12-year-old Hassan Izzard, representing the youngest generation of Bennett slave decedents, who looked at the battered staircase, splintered wood, and shattered glass windows in despair.

“I’m sad because eight generations ago, my great, great grandparents lived here, and I’m mad because they [developer] tore it down,” said Izzard.     

Despite listings on the National Register of Historic Places, the Bergen County Historic Sites Survey, and Preservation New Jersey’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey, the home could not be saved.

“It [listings] only protects it from government intervention,” said Elmwood Park resident Joe Suplicki, a historian for the Village of Ridgewood, who is a descendant of the slave-owning Zabriskie family.

As he stood with the Harris family looking at the destruction that only took an hour, he thought about the two-year effort to save the home that links both families, and the 200 years of American history that bonds them forever.

He also acknowledged the fact that private owners can do as they please when the Borough lacks an active historic preservation commission.   

“If there’s a historic preservation commission in the town, they can have rules on what you can do to the outside the house,” Suplicki added.

But the Borough of Paramus does not have an active historic preservation commission, which could have saved the iconic home from destruction, had such a commission voted to spare the home.

“There’s a commission on the books, but there are no members,” Suplicki added. “So there is no one to review the application as required by their law that if someone wants to come and knock this down, the application has to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission.”

The same developer has already torn down similar homes in the area which were once part of a thriving African-American Dunkerhook community of freed slaves that existed from the 1820’s to the 1930’s. 

The effort to save the Zabriskie home started two years ago says Suplicki’s wife, Peggy Norris. She said Ted Manvell, the homeowner at 263 Dunkerhook Road, which is adjacent to the Zabriskie home, fought Quattro’s petition to subdivide the property and demolish the house since July 2010.

Their fight included testimony at Planning Board hearings, and appeals to the developer and the original owner. In the end, the Planning Board approved the subdivision and demolition.

“Quattro had several options for saving the house, including, creative subdivision of the property,” said Norris.

Norris said Freeholder John Mitchell was presently in negotiations with Quattro and Bergen Community College to move the house to the campus to be used as a learning center and educational site for future generations of students and citizens.

According to Norris, Sal Petruzelli, and the other co-owners of Quattro 4, LLC, were unwilling to wait for the details of this option to unfold and had the Zabriskie House destroyed without warning.

“No arrangements were made with local architects or historians to document the house or salvage any of the 18th and 19th century materials used in its construction," Norris said.

The developer could not be reached prior to publication.

ParamusPatch.com will have more in Part 2 of this series next week. If you have any information regarding the Dunkerhook history of Paramus, please send an email to max.paramuspatch@gmail.com.
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Offline Albert

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Re: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2012, 08:24:49 PM »
From North Jersey Media:

Zabriskie House Demolition: Your View

More Reaction to Zabriskie House Demolition
Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 12:20 pm
by John Ensslin

My story today on the aftermath of the Zabriskie House demolition in Paramus prompted this interesting response from a reader.
 
Here it is:
 
Mr. Ensslin:
 
Re: Amid rubble of historic Paramus house, laments and blame linger, Sunday, July 22.
 
The look of bewildered amazement on Ted Manvell’s face says it all. An historic house is gone; a dream has died; and we are all so much the poorer. It would be easy for the preservation community to blame the developer, but it shouldn’t. Quattro 4 LLC held the property since 2010 and showed restraint in giving preservationists time to develop a plan and raise money. Mayor  LaBarbiera is also quite correct that the courts upheld the Planning Board’s decision and that to act otherwise would have been foolish. If any good is to come from this, communities will have to learn that historical sites need protection and that they will have to adopt stricter zoning laws and stronger historical ordinances.

If they cannot learn, then history will repeat itself again, and again, and again until there is no more history left.
 
Robert J. McConnell
Chair, Oradell Historical Committee
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Offline Albert

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Re: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 10:08:08 PM »
Bergen NAACP chief: Remember Zabriskie House
Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 6:22 pm
by John Ensslin

The historic Zabriskie Tenant House in Paramus is a pile of rubble, but Bergen County NAACP President Anthony Cureton wants the county to do something to remember the location of the former home to freed slaves and their descendants.
 
In a Record Talk Radio interview Wednesday, Cureton said it was “unfortunate” that efforts to move the 1786 Dutch Colonial Brownstone to the nearby Bergen Community College were unsuccessful.
 
The owners of the property, Quattro 4 LLC, said they had been patient but could not wait any longer when a backhoe demolished the house at 273 Dunkerhook Road on July 13.
 
Cureton was in Turkey at the time on an 8-city cultural goodwill tour. He recalled watching videos of the destruction of the house via the Internet.
 
“It was quite disturbing,” he said. “It was my prayer that it could have been preserved. It could have been a landmark other than now, rubble.”
 
“I hope that the county could consider memorializing the house or find someway of having some sort of legacy, even though we don’t have the structure anymore,” he added.
 
To hear the entire 30 minute interview, click here.
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Offline Albert

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Re: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2012, 10:40:41 PM »

Privately owned historic sites still vulnerable after destruction of Zabriskie Tenant House

Published: Monday, July 30, 2012, 6:00 AM
By Myles Ma/NJ.com

BERGEN COUNTY — The Zabriskie Tenant House in Paramus was one of the last standing reminders of African-American history in colonial-era Bergen County.

The owner razed the house on July 13 to make way for two new homes.

The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but the woman who owned it sold the house to developer Quatro 4 LLC to pay for assisted living. Like many of the historic sites in Bergen County, the Zabriskie Tenant House was privately owned.

"In the large sense, except in communities that have preservation committees, these things are up for grabs," Kevin Wright, a River Edge historian and past president of the Bergen County Historical Society, said.

The Bergen County Historical Society designates historic sites in the county with blue markers with silver text telling the story of each site. Many of the markers stand in front of homes that, like the Zabriskie Tenant House, are privately owned.

Some communities, like Ridgewood, have active historic preservation committees that step in when owners want to make changes to properties in the Village's designated historic district.

"It's still perfectly possible that a historic site can be torn down, but there at least in some cases is some kind of review process," Peggy Norris, a Village historian, said.

But ordinances governing historic sites vary widely in the county.

Glen Rock allows property owners to make repairs to historically designated structures as long as they preserve their "character and design." There is no guidance in the Borough code as to the demolition of such sites.

The Hopper Homestead and the Red Brick Schoolhouse, privately owned historic sites, both lie in Glen Rock. Harrington Park, where the Blanch-Haring House and the Wortendyke Homesite are located, has a similar ordinance.

In contract, the Paramus Borough code is much more detailed in how to deal with historic buildings. It provides for a historic advisory committee and a six-month waiting period before any historic structure is demolished.

However, at the time the developer's application to destroy the Zabriskie Tenant House came up, the committee had no members, and the six-month waiting period passed without any viable solution for saving the home. In addition, the Borough couldn't afford to help pay to preserve the house, Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said.

"We have a Borough where we have needs such as the library, which is in disrepair, we have the rec center, which is in disrepair, and we have the need for a fire truck in town," he said.

Many of the historic sites in Bergen County have already been lost, Wright, the River Edge historian, said.

"People say two-thirds of the Revolution was fought in New Jersey," he said. "Well, two-thirds of that was fought in Bergen County. And we really have nothing much to show for that."

In Ridgewood, the Village Council discussed implementing a policy to make it more difficult for homeowners to demolish historic homes, Ridgewood Patch reported. But some council members were concerned about infringing on property rights.

"Previous councils have stayed away from allowing that extension of the reach because it's always been felt that it would be an infringement upon homeowners' personal rights in terms of what they can and cannot do with their own home," Councilman Thomas Riche said.

LaBarbiera is doubtful that the distruction of the Zabriskie Tenant House will lead to a stronger effort to preserve local history.

"I hope that something positive comes from this, but the history will tell you that it might just be a blip on the radar screen," he said. "And that's regretful. This is a tragedy. Nobody wanted to see this house go away."

The next loss may already be on the horizon. In Emerson, American Legion Post 269 has voted to sell its clubhouse, the Record reported.

Built in the 18th century, it's one of the oldest buildings in town. Like the Zabriskie Tenant House, if it sells, it will likely be torn down.
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Offline Albert

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Re: 273 Dunkerhook Rd. DEMOLISHED This Afternoon by Builder
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2012, 10:22:04 PM »
Apparently, this story resonated with a lot of people:

Sandy, Zabriskie top reader poll on 2012 stories
Posted on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 12:11 pm
by John Ensslin

The devastation of Superstorm Sandy and the demolition of a former home for freed slaves were the two top stories of 2012 according to an unscientific poll of Bergen Beat Readers.
 
The Democrats winning control of the freeholder board, the sentencing of former Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa and the defeat of an effort to merge the County Police into the Sheriff’s Office rounded out the top five stories.
 
A total of 248 people responded to the unscientific poll which was conducted between Dec. 18-22.
 
Here’s the complete list of a readers top 10 list:
 
1. Superstorm Sandy.
 
Demolition of the Zabriskie House (tied for first.)
 
3.Democrats win control of freeholder board.
 
4. Hackensack police chief sentenced to five years.
 
5. Freeholders reject County Police/Sheriff’s merger.
 
6. Rabbi’s home firebombed/Wave of anti-Semitic incidents
 
7. War of words between County Executive/Sheriff.
 
8. Pascrell defeats Rothman in Democratic primary.
 
Blue Laws temporarily suspended in storm’s wake (tied for eighth.)
 
10. Shroeder charged with writing bad checks.
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