Edison House Demolished
Wednesday, August 8, 2012 • 10:35am
OGDENSBURG, NJ – The house, known as “the Edison House” at 76 Main Street, was demolished and removed on Monday August 6.
This house, built on Sparta Mountain in 1899, was one of 50 homes built by Thomas Edison with running water and electric lights. In 1900, only one year later, the Edison mine went out of business.
In 1905, a Baptist minister with an entrepreneurial spirit bought four of the houses and lined them up on Main Street. Two of the houses were joined together to form a confectionary, while the other two stood alone.
In 2008, fire destroyed the northernmost house and left the remaining one badly damaged. Borough Historian Wasco Hadowanetz, along with County Historian Wayne McCabe prepared a thorough proposal for a grant from the Charles Edison Foundation, to restore the house, but their timing was off. The Foundation was itself attempting to raise $60 million for the West Orange Laboratory Renovation project.
Although the request was denied in June 2012, Hadowanetz said he was "advised that the project was very worthy.”
Hadowanetz began looking for contacts on a national level to find funds. Meanwhile, Ogdensburg Mayor Steve Ciasullo, and the borough council had been discussing plans to demolish the house, with no definite plans of what to do with the property. Meeting minutes show discussions of creating a parking lot.
Upon being advised that the house was “an eyesore,” members of the Ogdensburg Historical Society volunteered their time and materials to scrape off the melted vinyl siding down to the original clapboard, and repaint it.
Hadowanetz appeared before the council on June 9, asking for additional time to seek grant money, at which time he was informed that if, at the end of three months, the Historical Society did not have an option for funding to purchase the property at the full price, the borough would then proceed with the demolition of the house.
"This was the first time anything was said about us buying the property," said Hadowanetz, as it is not customary for the Historical Society to purchase property. "We were only looking for funds to fix it up. Our [Historical Society's] role is only to assist in funding preservation and supervising the restoration."
The resolution did not pass, so the town proceeded with demolition.
The work was performed by the Anthony Group from Sparta. Anthony, the owner, explained that they were “not required to submit a bid, since the amount was under a certain amount,” and he was told that the job was “an emergency.”
Ciasullo said, "The town purchased the property in 2008, and there were a number of problems with it [the property]."
He further explained that the town is investigating, "a potential opportunity to rent out the property to get some revenue back into the town".
The contracts have not been signed yet, according to Ciasullo, so he was not willing to discuss the details.
Hadowanetz was appointed Borough Historian in 1984 by then Mayor John Kibildis and charged to look into old buildings that should be renovated. The Master Plan of Ogdensburg calls for a revitalizing of Main Street, emphasizing the borough's mining heritage.