THE ULTIMATE LIST OF CHEAP OLD HOUSES UNDER $50K…and BEYOND ––>
Lost America : The C.S. French Residence, East Orange, NJ
March 1, 2022
Occasionally we feature lost, abandoned or haunted houses that are not for sale at all but are interesting historically. The C.S. French House falls under the “lost” category. (Not for sale. )
Architect William Halsey Wood (1855-1897) was born in Newark, New Jersey, where he opened his first office when he was 24 years old.
An accomplished draftsman, William Halsey Wood built many noteworthy churches and homes like the C.S. French House, but ten years before his death at the age of 41, he lost out on building what would have been his masterpiece – the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Wood named his striking design for the cathedral, with numerous spires, turrets and arches, “Jerusalem the Golden,” and it was one of four finalists for the project. Unfortunately, his American Gothic design did not manage to win. Instead, the project went to architects George Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge, later taken over by Ralph Adams Cram.
Wood’s C.s. French House
The suburban C.S. French residence was built on a small lot by Woods in the early 1880s. He had to counterbalance the design as a building meant to protect its residents from city life, while at the same time ensuring that neighbors, who were expected to trust each other socially, were not offended. To that end Wood included features such as welcoming curved steps to the entrance, a wide entry arch, and plenty of windows and balconies for the occupants to acknowledge the neighborhood.
On the first floor was a foot-high elevated portion of the house which included the large hall, fireplace, staircase and the round dining room. The dining room was glorious with a curved mantel and window seat as well as a large round dining table. A large drawing room and large kitchen (unique for the times), pantry and rear staircase completed the first floor.
Three bedrooms, a bathroom, sewing room and several closets made up the second floor.
Attic and Basement
The attic had one large bedroom and a servant’s room, and a well-equipped laundry room was housed in the basement.
Records indicate that the C.S. French House actually cost far under $50K. At a price of $5,640, $1,935 went to the mason, $2,930 to the carpenter, $150 for heating, $424 to the plumber and $200 for interior decoration.
The residence was constructed at Arlington and Park Avenues for Chauncey Shepard French, a dealer in coal and wood. He lived there with his wife Mary, children Helen, HC, and Thomas, and a servant Catherine Jones. Mr. French died at the young age of 46 in 1902 and the house was razed sometime after that. An apartment building now stands in its place.