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by Howard Prosnitz, Staff Writer, Teaneck Suburbanite, June 28, 2006, p. 2
The council has unanimously approved a request by Fairleign Dickinson University to restore the historic Banta-Coe House.
The Dutch colonial house located at 884 Lone Pine Lane, a township street that runs through the southern end of the FDU campus. The house is believed by some historians to be 300-years-old, making it one of the oldest colonial houses in the state, said Jason Scorza, director of FDU's humanities department, who make the presentation to the countil at a June 19 work session.
The house was occupied until 1993, when its last owner sold it to FDU. Throughout three centuries, only four families have lived in it, said Scorze.
The Banta family occupied the house throughout the 18th century, he said. in the 19th century, it was owned by the Coe family, who make extensive renovations to it, including the addition of a second story.
From 1940 to 1993, it was occupied by the Hampton family. It has remained vacant since FDU acquired it in 1993. Although the university has performed routine maintenance, the house has fallen into disrepair, said Scorza.
"To do anything substantial with a historic homes is very expensive," he said, noting that the house is on the state, county and federal registers for hstoric homes.
The university has raised $30,000 and is applying for a 3-1 matching grant from the county, if approved. $120,000 would be available to begin restoration.
The first step would be to create an architectural palnning report, which itself would cost $50,000, said Scorza.
The University has been helped in its fundraising efforts by private donors, including Oradell resident Michael Gorman.
Gorman, who earned a master's degree in history from FDU after retiring as executive of a major trucking company, said that the house is a mixture of historical workmanship and 20th century innovaitons.
The original wood floors are hand hewn with hatchet marks visible, but the kitchen floor is covered with linoleum and the bathroom is inlaid with aquamarine tiles, Gorman said.
"Those two rooms scream '1960s,' but the bedrooms and the living room retain the historical atmosphere," he said.
Once the house is restored, the university will decide how it is to be used. One option is to locate part of the library's New Jersey historical archives to the second floor. The lower lever would be available for gallery exhibits, said Scorze. Robin Brown, historic perservation consultant for Bergen County, said that the Banta-Coe house is one of approximately 200 Dutch stone house still standing in the county.
"This type of building is unique," Brown said. "The Banta-Coe House has changed over thime, but its stone walls remain a visual testimony to its earliest construction."
Because the house is on a municipal street, it was necessary to obtain permission from the council, Scorza said.
"Fairleigh Dickinson is providing a great benefit to the town in preserving this house," said Mayor Jacqueline Kates. "It is not costing the town any money. They asked the town for their endorsement and we agreed."
FDU's original campus was located in Rutherford until it was sold in the 1990s to Felician College. The Teaneck campus opened in the 1950s, occupying a site near the north end of the current campus that had been Bergen Junior College.
Over the years, the campus expanded southward, surrounding private residences. One house on the campus,built in the early 20th century, is still occupied by private owners.
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