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Save This Historic Home

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70 Fairview in its heyday. (Photo copyright Bob Williams; used by permission.)
70 Fairview in its heyday. (Photo copyright Bob Williams; used by permission.)

This past week, Verona lost a Civil War-era Victorian to the bulldozers. This weekend, somebody gets a chance to save another historic home.

It’s 70 Fairview Avenue, which just like Kip’s Castle on Verona’s eastern ridge, was built by a prominent 19th century industrialist. Henry Ahlborn was a German immigrant who made his money in bronze powder and had moved his factory from Brooklyn to the banks of the Peckman River in Verona in 1876. Bronze powder was key supply for the printing business, and, according to Robert Williams,  who wrote a history of Verona for our centennial, Ahlborn’s factory was the only one of its kind in the western hemisphere until 1903.  One of Ahlborn daughters lived on in the 7-bedroom house until her death in 1982. Verona native Bob Goman recalled last year that she called his father’s moving company to the house spring and fall to rearrange the furniture for the seasons.

More recently, the house had been owned by artist Chris D’Ippolito. According to her mother and former neighbors, D’Ippolito had worked to restore the house before she passed away about four years ago. Last August, there was an attempt to sell the property, which was also facing an Essex County Sheriff’s Office foreclosure sale. According to state tax records, Verona resident Marek Forysiak bought it in December for $550,000. There was a dumpster on the grounds for a while earlier this spring and it had seemed like restoration was in the cards for the house.

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Now, however, it is back on the market for $749,000, with this description: “Large Victorian home in need of total renovation on a 168 x 241 lot. Subdivision possibilities.” The property is currently zoned low-density single family residential, which mandates a minimum lot size of 12,000 square feet. At 168 by 241 feet, the 70 Fairview property is over 40,000 square feet. But judging by the lot lines on the Zillow map of the property, there might be no way to subdivide it without demolishing the existing house. The Ahlborn mansion is not landmarked and Verona’s Landmarks Preservation Commission does not have the authority to forcibly landmark a property.

MyVeronaNJ.com called Forysiak on Saturday afternoon and left a message, but that call has not been returned.

Henry Ahlborn had 70 Fairview Avenue built after his success as an owner of American Bronze Powder, which stood along the Peckman River near the site of Verona's current sewage treatment plant.
Henry Ahlborn had 70 Fairview Avenue built after his success as an owner of American Bronze Powder, which stood along the Peckman River near the site of Verona’s current sewage treatment plant.

Here’s what else is happening in Verona real estate this weekend, from lowest priced to highest in each category:

New Listings
47 Wedgewood Drive Apt 134: 1 bed, 1 bath condo. Window A/C units. $174,900.
20 Sunnyside Place: 2 beds, 1 bath. Heated porch, in-ground heated pool. $320,000.
20 E. Lincoln Street: 4 beds, 1 bath. Partially finished basement. $434,000.
17 Meadow Lane: 4 beds, 2 full and 2 half baths. Updated kitchen. Close to center of Verona. $645,000.
46 Fairview Avenue: 5 beds, 4 full and 2 half baths. Full bath and walk-in closet in master. $655,000.
131 Fairway Avenue: 4 beds, 2 1/2 baths. Gourmet kitchen, master suite with walk-in closet. $739,000. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
70 Fairview Avenue: 7 beds, 3 1/2 baths. Victorian built for prominent 19th-century industrialist. $749,000.

Open Houses

161 Franklin Street: 4 beds, 2 baths. Steps from Verona High School. $349,000. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
8 Otis Place: 2 bed, 2 bath townhouse. Eat-in kitchen. Vaulted ceiling in master. $373,800. Open house Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.
19 Mount Prospect Avenue: 4 beds, 3 baths. Central air, deep yard. Cut $19, 000 to $380,000. Open house Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
219 Linden Avenue: 3 beds, 1 bath. Finished basement, central air. $384,000. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
45 Cumberland Avenue: 3 beds, 1 bath. Eat-in kitchen, wood-burning fireplace. Cut $4,000 to $395,000. Open house Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
53 Cypress Avenue: 23 beds, 1 1/2 bath. Split-level with hardwood floors, two-car garage. $399,000. Open house Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.
11 Dodd Terrace: 4 beds, 2 baths. Possible in-law suite on lower level. $449,000. Open house Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.
168 Linden Avenue: 4 beds, 2 1/2 baths. Updated kitchen, detached garage. $458,000. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
4 Balston Drive: 5 beds, 2 1/2 baths. Split-level with eat-in kitchen, finished basement. $575,000. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
14 Douglas Place: 4 beds, 3 1/2 baths. Renovated kitchen, 2-story living room. $619,000. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
16 Birdseye Glen: 4 beds, 2 1/2 baths. Updated kitchen, large family room, working fireplaces. Cut $29,000 to $710,000. Open house Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
131 Fairway Avenue: 4 beds, 2 1/2 baths. Gourmet kitchen, master suite with walk-in closet. $739,000. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
92 Fairway Avenue: 4 beds, 2 full, 2 half baths. Open floor plan, fireplace in kitchen. Cut $40,000 to $759,900. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
51 Afterglow Avenue: 6 beds, 6 baths. Gourmet kitchen, working fireplace, guest suite. $949,000. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.

Price Changes
19 Mount Prospect Avenue: 4 beds, 3 baths. Central air, deep yard. Cut $19, 000 to $380,000. Open house Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
45 Cumberland Avenue: 3 beds, 1 bath. Eat-in kitchen, wood-burning fireplace. Cut $4,000 to $395,000. Open house Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
2 Claridge Drive #6LE: 2 bed, 2 bath condo in full-service high rise building. Cut $40,000 to $415,000.
16 Birdseye Glen: 4 beds, 2 1/2 baths. Updated kitchen, large family room, working fireplaces. Cut $29,000 to $710,000. Open house Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
92 Fairway Avenue: 4 beds, 2 full, 2 half baths. Open floor plan, fireplace in kitchen. Cut $40,000 to $759,900. Open house Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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