A proposal to restore a historic building at 14 Northfield Avenue in downtown West Orange was approved by the planning board last week.
The owner Richard Herbst will restore much of the facade of the Macintosh Building, recognizable for its decorative brick patterns. However, a small portion of the brickwork became detached from the exterior wall and can’t be salvaged, according to architect José Antonio Izquierdo.
“The architectural significance lies in the brickwork,” Izquierdo said. “We want to accentuate that this is a building that was very pretty in the past and is still a very pretty building.”
The new plan requires the demolition of a one-story structure in the backyard that had become structurally unstable. A patio will be constructed in its place.
The ground floor of the rear warehouse will be converted into an indoor parking lot with seven spaces. The ground floor, currently home of the Mia Bella Salon, will remain retail space while the top two floors will be converted into 12 apartments. Each unit will have its own laundry room and an elevator will also be installed in the lobby where a steep staircase was once the only means of accessing the upper floors.
“It’s an older lady that needs a little bit of care,” Izquierdo said. “Once we take care of her and take care of the building, I think she’ll be fine.”
Building Named After Successful Businessman Who Died Tragically
The building gets its name from Walter S. Macintosh, a realtor and broker who headquartered his business, the Macintosh Agency, there. In 1928, the agency appears in advertisements as an affiliate of the Fidelity Union Title & Mortgage Guaranty Company.
In 1915, when West Orange, was experiencing a real estate boom, Macintosh had earned a reputation as one of the “most energetic men in the development of West Orange,” the Newark Evening Star reported. Macintosh died tragically of carbon monoxide asphyxiation in 1930. His death was ruled a suicide.
Over the last century, the building was also home to the Beaver Oil Company. In 1932, the newly formed Elks Lodge, had its inaugural meeting in the Macintosh Building, but eventually moved to its current headquarters at 424 Main Street.
The Macintosh Building is a relic of the early 1900s, when a small commercial district cropped up around the last stop of the Erie Railroad. The neighborhood’s most well-known building is St. Mark’s Church, which is listed on the National Register. Last year, the nearby Hedges Block at 52 Main Street was designated a local landmark by the historic preservation commission.