A turn-of-the-last-century mansion in one of Jersey City’s historic districts is undergoing a long-hoped-for renovation. Its prominent address at 2456 Kennedy Boulevard made it a landmark for locals who painfully watched it deteriorate over the years.
The Queen Anne-style home — with a three-story turret and stately porch — is being restored by Jersey City resident Rupish Puran, who bought the house last year for nearly $1 million.
A West Indies-born cabinetmaker, Puran immigrated to Jersey City about 15 years ago and has since used his custom woodworking skills to carve out a portfolio of properties around the city.
“I started from zero,” said Puran, who lives in Greenville but intends to move his family to Kennedy Boulevard. “I didn’t think about how things would turn out living in Jersey City. But I wanted the city to look nice.”
The West Bergen-East Lincoln Park neighborhood became a well-to-do hilltop suburb with the coming of the streetcar in 1859. The 107-acre historic district is notable for its variety of architecture, ranging from pre-war apartment towers to grand, one-family homes on the cross streets. Many of the homes belonged to the state’s political elite, including New Jersey Supreme Court Justices Charles Parker (88 Gifford Avenue) and Charles Black (80 Gifford Avenue). The infamous strongman politician, Mayor Frank Hague, lived in the penthouse of 2600 Kennedy Boulevard.
The district, which was listed on a National Register in 2017, has 589 contributing properties, most built between 1880 and 1920. The oldest building is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, built in 1861. The home on Kennedy Boulevard was completed in 1900, seven years after the Gifford family subdivided their land to form Gifford Avenue. Even among so many landmarks, the home was especially noteworthy to the historians who authored the National Register application.
“This two-and-a-half story, four-bay, wood-frame dwelling occupying a prominent corner of the Kennedy Boulevard-Gifford Avenue intersection is among the most complete and impressive of the Queen Anne-style houses in the district,” the application reads.
The city’s historic preservation commission encountered some organized resistance to the neighborhood being listed as a national landmark from people who claim such designations are nothing but a millstone to homeowners. But the current renovation of a home that suffered perhaps the worst decline in the area — from exposure and ham-fisted modernizations — is vindication for local preservationists.
”These are a small example of the kinds of homes that once lined Kennedy Boulevard and many streets off of it,” said Commissioner Paul Amatuzzo, who told Jersey Digs he is spearheading yet another historic district in The Heights. “We as humans need these important visual links to our past. It gives a real feel of what the past was and how some of our wealthiest citizens lived at the end of the 19th century.”