As the banks and churches of Hoboken gradually disappear under the guise of luxury condos, I am comforted to know that at least two buildings that house the library and City Hall should probably remain as they were originally designed.
Despite the disappearance of beautiful structures that were built in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there are many people that have a great passion to hold on to these works of art. Sadly, due to changing times and the element of commerce, many cities have lost beautiful and historic places of worship. Years ago I once saw a piece of artwork depicting the landscape of buildings in Hoboken that was titled, “City of Churches.” Now a more apt title would be “City of Condos.”
There is constant construction around town within close proximity of other buildings in our small urban area. Sometimes adjacent structures become compromised by damaged walls and foundations due to the upscaling of the town. Some structures are completely torn down except for the front façade with a new building constructed behind. The old church on Willow and 7th has only the original front façade up as a reminder of what once was there and serves as a type of wall in front of the new building of condos.
Looking back at a Hoboken bank’s evolution in this paper’s archives, an article written, Jan. 17, 2010 stated:
“The Jefferson Trust Bank building, First and Clinton streets, has been gutted and is in the process of being rebuilt from the inside out. Ultimately, it will become condominiums.
The original building was built in 1909, and rear office space was added in 1919, according to public records. The bank is historic, according to the city registry, and the current owners, 133 Grand Street LLC, want to keep the historic value intact, according to their attorney Robert Matule.
‘They’re reverse-constructing it,’ he said, meaning keeping its outside shell and large clock face.
The owner tried to get city approval to build commercial space and restaurants in the old bank, instead of residential condos. But they were not approved – parking had much to do with it – and decided to instead create homes.
Nonetheless, building inside an old frame isn’t easy.
‘[Our goal was to] make everything work inside the space of the old building,’ Robert Russell of LWDMR & Associates, urban planners handling the conversion said. ‘We saved a lot of the old façade. We basically built a new building behind the façade.’”
This article came to mind because the First Baptist Church at 901 Bloomfield will have the same fate: six luxury condos will be constructed within the façade of the church while adding two floors to the top. This will require deconstructing various elements of the church due to its 72 foot tower, gabled roofs, and unique circular sanctuary. This is not a square box like a bank. Since this is in my neighborhood, I will have a front row seat to see how this will all turn out.