December 5, 2022

About two years ago, Westfield passed a controversial ordinance revision requiring historic preservation officer review of demolition permits for homes built before 1930.
But if it were not for that ordinance, the walls of 121 Effingham Place likely wouldn’t be standing today.
The 1911 Craftsman-style home was refurbished and updated by Villane Building and Development in conjunction with the Westfield Historic Preservation Commission over the past year. The renovation was designed by Gregory Ralph, Architect.
Last week, the five-bedroom, 5½ bathroom home sold for $1.975 million to new owners — the third family to live there in over a century.
“Without the ordinance, there’s a good chance the home would have been torn down,” said Francesca Azzara, a Coldwell Banker Realty Westfield real estate agent who represented both the former owner of 121 Effingham Place and Villane Building and Development.“The home was in disrepair and it was a lot of work for the builder. They wanted to honor and keep the original look of the house, yet rebuild it inside for today’s buyers.”
The homeowner, who wanted to downsize, turned to Azzara to list the home. Villane Building and Development purchased the home, as well as an additional now-subdivided lot, for $1.2 million in October 2020. (A new home on that lot is now being built by Villane.) Then, Villane collaborated with the Westfield Historic Preservation Commission on a vision for the updated home.
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That vision included a combination of preservation and renovation. The oval-shaped dining room that was specifically created for the original owners’ oval-shaped table still stands as a nod to the home’s beginning. Original round pillars in the front of the home, which were in disrepair, were re-created by Villane. The original fireplaces, mantels and handmade shutters were preserved.
A few of the home’s original windows (which were replaced with more energy-efficient ones) were used inside the home’s walls to create a new foyer. And tiles that reflected the style of the time of the home’s heyday were laid in the mudroom and powder room.
In order to update the home for today’s market, however, the 18-foot-deep front porch was shortened to 10 feet. This allowed Villane to add a three-story addition to the back of the home with a new family room that flowed into the now-renovated kitchen. A primary bedroom suite with a bathroom and walk-in closet is also a part of the addition.
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“The home has retained the look of a Craftsman,” said Azzara. “The interior is like a brand-new house, but it has a lot of the charm and details of the original home.”
Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member at the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, after becoming a blogger-turned-reporter following the creation of her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her stories about food, drink and fun, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Contact: JIntersimone@Gannett.com or @JIntersimone.

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