Toppling a Slice of FH Small Home Life
The Lockwood home on Parker Avenue was demolished to make way for larger home. Is there a place left for smaller homes in Fair Haven?
"It'll take about 20 minutes to knock it down," the operator of the front loader was overheard saying as he prepared to demolish one of the oldest bugalows in Fair Haven last Wednesday.
And in 20 minutes the meticulous little red house that encapsulated 82 years worth of family history was reduced to pile of shingles, sheet-rock and crumbled cobblestone.
As the claw of the truck struck the house, the Tiffany lamp that hung in the dining room swung, the second floor bedroom light flew onto a piece of the remaining roof and a little laundry basket with a stuffed animal neatly tucked on top tumbled to the ground.
Pristine, white ruffled Cape Cod curtains still hung on the back door as it was leveled and sullied. The lamp post that, for decades, lit the way to the front door's welcome mat hit the unearthed walkway and laid on its side in pieces. A broom and dust pan still hung neatly on a basement wall.
Neighbors stood in front of 39 Parker Ave. to watch, with remorse, what had become of the home that they witnessed Ken and Peggy Lockwood build in that house — and before that, Ken's parents.
"Do they know?" longtime neighbor Ken Bennett could be heard asking. "I hope not. They know it was sold, but this would crush them. It's a whole lifetime right there ... gone."
Ken Lockwood, a 1939 graduate of then Rumson High School who just turned 90 in May, had lived in the house since he was 6 years old. Before that, he lived down the street. When he married Peggy, they ended up back at the house, gutted it and made it their own.
Lockwood's mother joined them there at one point. There they lived until only a few months ago when assisted living became necessary.
But, as Ken told Patch on his birthday, "I never quite reached the perfection I was after." He was always thinking about more tending that needed to be done to his home that he was known to manicure like a high-maintenance diva.
It was rare to not see Ken and Peggy Lockwood outside undertaking some sort of grand project on the property with a demeanor of routine solace in the task.
Technically, the house that was nearly as old as the borough itself was not historic. It's not in any registry. It did not meet any state or national criteria qualifying it for protection.
It was just someone's home for nearly a century.
It was there on Tuesday and flattened in minutes on Wednesday. For the past week, load after load, bits and pieces of the house were carted away in a dumpster. As of yesterday, nothing was left of the Lockwood house.
The property is being prepared for new construction — a much bigger house, a neighbor said she was told, of four bedrooms, two bathrooms. The Lockwood property was sold, so no rules were broken in taking the house down. Real estate trending in the area has made houses like that practically obsolete.
McMansions or High-End Homes?
At one time it was a house like the Lockwoods' that was the trend — top in the market.
A century ago, a house was being built that was considered the grandest in all of Fair Haven. They called it The Four Masons Bungalow, an article in the June 12, 1912 Red Bank Register said.
The house was built on Battin Road for the theatrical quartet, The Four Masons, “who perform(ed) vaudeville sketches," the story said. “The bungalow will have six rooms and will be provided with hot and cold water, electricity and gas. It will cost about $2,000 and will be one of the finest dwellings of its kind at Fair Haven.”
Now, according to Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli, the average sized home in the borough is 3,000 square feet, or about four bedrooms, two bathrooms. The Lockwood house had two bedrooms, one bath.
"It's what the market dictates," Lucarelli said. "The builders are producing a product to meet market demand. The zoning laws do restrict the size of a new home by limiting the front, side and rear yard set-backs along with the height and floor area as they all relate to lot size and the particular zone in which the property is located. Many times, the zoning is in place for a bigger home, especially if the builder is adding a story and the footprint is basically the same."
About a decade ago, several small houses and/or bungalows on William Street were torn down and replaced with much larger homes.
In the past few years and now a few small houses on Jackson Street have been and continue to be replaced with larger houses.
When the Anderson home on Ridge Road in Rumson was demolished to the dismay of many, Rumson Historic Commission President Jim Fitzmaurice defended new construction, saying the work of most of the area builders was not tantamount to that of a cheap, McMansion-type reputation, but high end and diverse.
"The term McMansion is often used as a term of derision to describe new large homes," Fitzmaurice said in a blog on Patch. "I believe the term is inappropriately applied to most of the new construction in Rumson [and the surrounding area]. The term should be reserved for cheesy false front monstrosities, clad in vinyl siding on the sides and back. The homes being built by most of the high class builders in our area are nothing of the sort and will someday be the focus of another Historic Commission in the future."
Fitzmaurice had said in an interview that he knew of some high quality new construction and revamping of smaller homes in the area as well.
When asked if the trend was one that, as it was followed, ended up pushing out diversity more and making the borough one that could only be afforded by purchasers of larger homes with bigger families, Lucarelli said that while that was not the intent, the need for larger homes and proximity to good schools is one that continues to be satiated by builders in the borough.
The Lockwoods did not have children.
According to the 2011 U.S. Census statistics for Fair Haven, the median household income in the borough for 2006 to 2010 was $112,308. The average for the state was $69,811. The median value of owner-occupied units was $714,100. The average for the state was $357,000.
The percentage of people over the age of 65 living in the borough was 9.5 percent in 2010, as opposed to the overall state's rate of 13.5 percent.
According to the census, the population of Fair Haven in 1930, when Ken Lockwood's family moved into the 39 Parker Avenue house, was 2,260. As of 2010 it was 6,121.
From 1920 to 1930, the Fair Haven population jumped more than 74 percent from 1,295 to 2,260. Ken Lockwood's family lived in another house on Parker, at the corner of Cedar Avenue, from 1924 to 1930.
The cost of education, per pupil, in Fair Haven is estimated at $11,000, as opposed to a state average of more than $12,000. That does not include the per pupil cost of education at the high school.
Taxes on the new average-sized 3,000-square-foot home are about $10,000 to $11,000, or about half the tax bill on a home the size of the Lockwoods', the mayor said.
The house, according to real estate records, sold for $240,000. The sale closed on Sept. 13. There is a "For Sale" sign on the property, naming the seller as Kolarsick Builders.
Patch will feature a video of Ken Lockwood's recollections of growing up in the neighborhood and Fair Haven.