Around the turn of the 20th century, waves of immigrants coming to America swelled the population in Somerset County. Residents congregated in Bernardsville at St. Bernard’s Parish, which erected a parish house or Great Hall in 1912. The house served as a community center, from its role helping treat sick people during the 1913 flu epidemic to hosting youth basketball programs. But in modern times, the historic parish property fell into disrepair.
So the parish approached Bernardsville resident and longtime builder Nat Conti about how to save the building. Conti, who had restored other historic structures, began a mission to create residences on the property while keeping the historic features.
The result is the Heritage at Claremont, a development currently under construction that will ultimately contain 20 residences in two buildings. Four of the residences will be located in the historic Great Hall, while the remaining 16 are located in a new construction building. The luxury residences range from one to three bedrooms plus a den.
Presales began recently and five units out of twenty are now under contract.
Conti, through his firm NGC Development, worked with architect Jeffrey Beer, “the mastermind between the harmony created between old and new on the site,” according to company spokesman Kevin Cullen.
The new homes will feature stucco and stone exteriors, hardwood flooring, gas fireplaces, granite countertops, and patios/decks in some units.
The design of the parish house is architecturally significant. Architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh used a Gothic and Arts and Crafts style, popular among architects at the time as a way to distance themselves from Victorian architecture. Hardenberg also designed the Plaza Hotel, the Dakota Apartments in New York City, and the Willard Hotel in Washington DC.
“We are profoundly lucky to have one of his buildings in Bernardsville,” Cullen said. “His design for this parish house was celebrated and respected during the rehabilitation and conversion.”