Status: Progress Made
4/2010: The Borough of Fair Lawn has proposed a municipal takeover of the Naugle House. The borough has received a $509,000 grant from the Bergen County Open Space Committee. Earlier this year, the current owner signed a settlement agreement with the borough that reduced his planned townhouse development in number from 18 to 13. He also agreed to pay $243,000 to repair the property and give the property to the borough.
6/2010: The Naugle House property has been listed for sale. The property is listed in its entirety for $2.39 million. Local sources indicate that the current owner is promoting the property as “ready for development.” It is unclear how or if the supposed agreement for municipal takeover of the Naugle House factors into the sale.
10/2010: The Borough of Fair Lawn has secured $1.4 million in grant funds from Bergen County, and is trying aggressively to purchase the Naugle property and the surrounding land. The developer is apparently not willing to negotiate a lower purchase price at this time, depsite the fact that $1.4 million is the reported fair market value of the property. While the property has been rezoned for multi-family residential development, a site plan has not been approved. Previous legal action by the devleoper against the Borough resulted in a settlement that would permit development of 13 townhomes on the property with retention of the Naugle House and gifting of the building to the Borough. However, the developer has reportedly now decided not to develop th property, but instead, to try to sell it in it’s entirety for development. The Borough indicates that it is their position that the settlement agreement would apply to any future purcahser, however, one could apply to develop more. At this time, the Borough appears eager to proceed with acquisition, however, adequate funds are not available. Additionally, the Naugle Huse is not properly secured or being maintained in any way. The Borough has a minimum maintenance provision, however, local adovcates report that it is not being enforced with regard to this property/owner.
11/2010: The Borough of Fair Lawn has reached an agreement with the owner-developer to purchase the Naugle House property, including the house and the 1.76 acres on which it sits, for use as a park. The Borough matched Bergen County’s grant 1 to 1. The Borough indicates that the house will be preserved, and could eventually be rented to educational groups. PNJ applauds the Borough of Fair Lawn for this decision, and the Fair Lawn Historic Preservation Commission and the local volunteers that worked diligently to make this happen!
8/2012: The Borough of Fair Lawn has hired HMR Architects to work on the Naugle House project.
Probably built in the 1740s or 1750s, the charming and unassuming Naugle house is unique among the Dutch stone houses for which Bergen County is renowned. Built into a hillside on roughly one and three quarter heavily forested acres near the Saddle River, its lower-level, a kitchen, is made of red sandstone, while its main living space above, accessed from the hill, is of frame construction. Because the upper-level living area has a cooking-width fireplace typical of stone houses of the period, the kitchen may have been moved to the lower level at a later date.
The Naugle house is notable not only for its architecture but for its association with events of the American Revolution. Mr. Naugle, about whom little is known, may have been paymaster to the troops commanded by the Marquis de Lafayette, a member of Washington’s inner circle who fought at the Battle of Monmouth, among other clashes. Lafayette is known to have visited the home in 1824 during his return visit to the United States.
The vacant and deteriorating house is threatened by a plan to build 18 town houses. If not stabilized soon the Naugle house’s structural integrity will be jeopardized. It is not clear if the developer plans to save the house, but even if he does the proposed development will encroach upon the site and overwhelm the house’s historical context. PNJ feels that a less dense development with an open space buffer is the best outcome for this unique building.
Felice Koplik, Fairlawn HPC