News: Tamima Team Lists Une Belle Maison

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Real Estate

By David M. Zimmer

A 99-year-old home recently listed for a shade under $3 million brings a scene from the French countryside to Montclair's posh Warren Place.

Sitting amid a sea of clapboard and shingles, 67 Warren Place in Montclair is a provincial cottage designed by Frank Joseph Forster, an award-winning architect who like many Americans embraced French culture after the First World War. Listed for sale in late March, the home was expanded in 2011 but retained its aesthetic while gaining modern conveniences, according to Tamima Friedman and Robert Baldwin of Keller Williams NJ Metro Group in Montclair.

Friedman and Baldwin jointly listed the six-bedroom, six-bathroom for nearly $3 million. The home for decades has been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places owing to its standout architecture.

It was built in 1925, three years after Hoboken native Milton E. Hatfield bought a roughly square, one-acre property on the corner of Eagle Rock Way and Warren Place for $35,000. The property already had an 11-room home, according to a May 1922 report in The Montclair Times.

Hatfield, who had been living at 107 Elm St., wanted something different, however. He quickly sold the home after promising the new owner alterations, The Montclair Times reported. Hatfield kept the backyard.

Born in July 1876, Hatfield worked as an investment banker and statistician for the banking firms run by the Kountze Brothers and Brown Brothers as well as Harriman, Ripley and Co., according to his New York Times obituary. Before that, he attended both Packard Business College in New York and Stevens Institute of Technology. For his day job, he studied global economies, according to The Montclair Times. In his spare time, he sailed as a member of the Indian Harbor and New York yacht clubs.

More than your average recreational sailor, Hatfield was competitive. Aboard his small sloop Nautilus, he won the New York Yacht Club's 1921 Navy Cup Challenge during the club's annual cruise.

The cruise took the entire fleet from Glen Cove off Long Island to the Newport Yacht Club in Rhode Island, according to an account by in the Sept. 1921 issue of boat publication "The Rudder." It was the club's first cruise since 1916 due to interruptions caused by the war that led many club members to join the Navy Reserve if not donate their yachts to the military. There were stops at New Haven, New London and Block Island along the way. There were also cup races for sail- and motor-powered vessels, including the Navy Cup Challenge for sloops and schooners.

A few years after returning to Montclair with the cup, Hatfield would hire Forster to build 67 Warren. A champion of the French provincial style who studied architecture at Cooper Union between 1903 and 1908, Forster produced more houses in the style stateside than anyone had before, Gavin Townsend wrote in his 1995 essay on the style for the architectural journal Arris.

The style was rare before World War I, Virginia Savage McAlester wrote in her book "A Field Guide to American Houses." After fighting for France during the war, Americans became entranced by the nation and the rebuilding of its small villages, she wrote.

Among those who rose to prominence replicating the homes was Forster, a New York City native a decade Hatfield's junior. Forster mostly stayed in the New York metro area, but he nonetheless designed homes in Toledo, Houston and the Bahamas, according to Townsend.

"His peers recognized him as a master of the style; three years in a row, from 1927 to 1929, Forster's picturesque French houses won him some of the most prestigious medals in his profession," Townsend wrote.

The home he built for Hatfield features a sharply pitched slate roof, dormer windows and stone chimneys. Inside, there are wide-plank floors, beamed ceilings and wrought-iron accents.

Sitting on two-thirds of an acre, 67 Warren has a heated in-ground pool, an herb garden and a two-car attached garage. The circular driveway is centered on a specimen weeping Japanese maple and connected to a bluestone walkway that leads to the foyer and center hall.

The home has a gourmet eat-in kitchen with two center islands, custom cabinets and composite stone countertops. The family room has a stone-mantled gas fireplace. The primary suite has a wood-burning fireplace as well as two walk-in closets, a balcony overlooking the pool and a bathroom with a walk-in shower and a a separate jetted soaking tub. In all, the second floor boasts five bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath. The basement is fully finished.