By Tina Pappas
for Montcalir Local
The historic Montclair Savings Bank facade will be maintained with new owners, while the owner of Bloomfield Avenue storefronts will bring back its art-deco feel restoring the original terra cotta finish and owl-head adornments. Owners of both structures presented renovation plans to the Historic Preservation Commission at its last meeting in July.
A financial firm has taken over the Montclair Savings Bank building, which most recently housed Bank of America.
The bank, located at 441 Bloomfield Ave., was built in 1924, but still boasts the original Montclair Savings Bank motto legend engraved across the top: “Founded in 1893 to promote economy and preserve its fruits.”
Matthew Ponsi, architect for the firm Architectura, presented a plan to the commission to transform the building into an office space for Sovos Brands, a financial firm, which acquires prepackaged food brands. The company plans to keep the overall building intact.
Alteration plans include new basement windows to allow light entry and signage that would include bronze plaques of the company’s name on each side of the entrance way. The interior would be subdivided to include a conference room and office spaces.
A variance would be required for the signage due to plans calling for five-foot plaques, where currently only four feet is allowed. A variance for the office space located on the first floor is also required. The application will go before the zoning board on Aug. 15.
Commission members recommended preserving the deposit box, as a possible historic element, even though the building will not be used as a bank.
WE MCL Holding, LLC presented plans to renovate its group of storefronts built around 1929 and located in the Bloomfield Historic District. The stores, at 222-230 Bloomfield Ave., are currently leased to a kids spa, a not-for-profit and a barber shop. Architect Mark Bess said that when aluminum siding was removed, it revealed what they think is the original terra cotta and decorative molded owl heads. In December, the Historic Commission Revisions Committee met and identified that historic terra cotta was in fact beneath the aluminum siding on the facade.
Bess has obtained older photos of the building showing its terra cotta exterior and has contacted a consultant who specializes in terra cotta building exteriors to repair the finish, the columns and create castings of the existing owl heads to repair ones that are damaged along the columns.
Other renovations include the installation of new glass storefronts, glass signage, new spherical lighting and a centered cap. Using cast stone on the centered cap was also suggested if matching the terra cotta facade was difficult.
“The building is recognized in the 2004 Town Center Historic District and is considered a ‘harmonzing’ building. Harmonizing buildings date from a later period than the district’s significance (1865-1937),” said assistant planner Graham Petto.
The plan was approved and will go back to the revisions committee for final approval.