A commercial building in Montclair’s downtown historic district will undergo a renovation that will both strip away some of the mid-century modernizations while giving it some stylish updates before a new restaurant opens there.
Built in 1900, the three-story building at 11 South Fullerton Avenue was the longtime home of Palazzo restaurant, which relocated to Walnut Street. It is located at the so-called Five Corners intersection, an area known for its neoclassical bank buildings. The building, which served as a garage, originally had a brick facade, with arched Italianate windows. The facade was significantly altered over the years so that it now has two windows.
The current awnings over the windows and above the first floor will be removed. A canopy over the entrance will give the building the illusion of symmetry that it used to have, and recall the former archway over the door.
“We basically simplified the design down,” said Montclair-based architect John Guadagnoli at the historic preservation commission meeting in February, “and approach what was there before.”
In the case of altered historic buildings, the HPC recommends reverting to its original design when possible, Kathleen Bennett, chair of the HPC, said. Tom Connelly, the founding architect at Connelly & Hickey, and consultant for the HPC, wanted the owner to reintroduce the arched windows that the original structure had, but the architect said that wasn’t feasible.
“The whole facade would have to come down to get the old windows,” Guadagnoli said. “The owner just wants to open a restaurant.”
The oldest buildings in the twice-expanded Town Center Historic District are from the 1840s. The HPC is working on nominating two more historic districts, Bennett said.