On May 17, NJIT will honor Elizabeth Del Tufo, our greatest champion for a better Newark, granting her an honorary doctoral degree. I am proud of Liz, who has dedicated her life to the city. She has been honored twice in two years. First, she was fired as the Chairperson of the city’s Historic Preservation and Landmarks Commission in early 2006 by the former mayor Sharpe James. At the time, she was holding principles against a James confidant, who planned to destroy a historic building in the Forest Hill section. These two images are on my desk this happy moment:
In 1977, Ms. Del Tufo stood outside the boarded-up 48 James Street to promote the establishment of the historic district;
In 2005, she was pictured in front of Cafe Carol on James Street in the Star-Ledger to protest violations against historic preservation ordinances in the neighborhood.
I also feel fortunate to be a neighbor of NJIT, the great hometown institution whose Gateway Project aims to improve a strategic area of over 21 acres near the Broad Street Station. The commencement will be at the Prudential Center, open to the public. Thom Mayne, one of the most influential architects of our time, will also be honored. His design of Cooper Union’s Academic Building is currently under construction.
Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee has the following announcement about a historic tour on Mother’s Day conducted by Liz Del Tufo:
An Invitation to a Tour: Come Home with NPLC on Mother’s Day
“Mother’s Day at Home: The Varied Ways That People Live in Newark ” will be the theme of a bus tour of old and new dwellings in the city on Sunday, May 11.
The six-hour tour, sponsored by the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee, will visit seven residences that span nearly three centuries – from the second oldest house in the city, to a just-built townhouse. The tour stops will include dwelling units that have been developed within an old factory, an office skyscraper, a onetime carriage house, and a former schoolhouse and church.
Elizabeth Del Tufo, a longtime leader in the preservation movement, will be the guide aboard the chartered bus. She said the aim of the tour through New Jersey ’s oldest and largest city is to show “a diverse population living in diverse housing, which only an urban area can provide.”
Del Tufo will draw on the knowledge she has gained in leading hundreds of tours during the last 30 years, and in heading both the landmarks committee and the City of Newark ’s Historic Preservation Commission. In addition, the tourists will be able to meet people who have lived in Newark for years, or who have arrived recently and helped design and build their own quarters.
The tour will begin from the Newark Museum at 49 Washington St. at 10:30 a.m., and return there before 5 p.m. There will be light refreshments along the way, but passengers are advised to bring their own bag lunches.
The first stop will be the Ironbound studio and home of Emilio Serio, a professional artist. It was built in 1879 as a neighborhood school, later served as a Polish National Catholic church, and was bought 38 years ago by Serio – who displays many of his paintings in the former sanctuary, and still sometimes rings the bell in its small tower. Second stop will be a 19th century factory that is now the loft home of husband-and-wife architects and their infant son.
Then the bus will go to the 35-story Art Deco tower built just before the Depression and known for decades as the Raymond-Commerce Building . Now it has been transformed into luxury apartments with many amenities, and is attracting new residents to downtown.
A townhouse complex still under construction on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard will also be visited. “We want to show that the Newark Housing Authority is now building homes that are compatible with historic neighborhoods,” said Del Tufo.
The tour group will visit an apartment in Colonnade Park , overlooking Branch Brook Park and the New York skyline. The 20-story glass-and-steel buildings, opened nearly 50 years ago, were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a master of modern architecture.
A stark contrast will be a small carriage house in a lush green setting, once part of a large estate in still-fashionable Forest Hill. The new owners are expanding and rehabilitating the century-old dwelling with plans that will enhance its original charm.
The trip will conclude with sherry and conversation at the Plume House, built about 1725 by a wealthy colonial family on what was then the edge of a small village. The old stone house, which still retains wide-board floors and ornate mantels, has served since 1850 as the rectory of the House of Prayer Episcopal Church. Historical photos and materials about the house will be displayed.
The cost of the tour is $25 for adult members of the Landmarks Committee and $30 for others; it’s $10 for children under 12. Reservations are required and can be made by phone at the group’s office, 973-622-4910.
NEWARK PRESERVATION & LANDMARKS COMMITTEE
P.O. Box 1066, Newark , NJ 07101 – Telephone 973-622-4910