Home Was Once the Center of Commerce and Community in Town’s Early Days
The DeBaun House, a late 1800s era home located in the heart of Saddle River’s central historic district, tells a story rich with historical significance and a lovely blend of past and present.
Located at the intersection of East Allendale Avenue and West Saddle River Road, the home, which twice served temporarily as the center of the town’s commercial activity in the latter 1800s and early 1900s, was designated as a Saddle River landmark by the landmarks commission in 1986.
“It’s a unique house with lots of personality, and with that personality comes a lot of history,” mention the current homeowners. “You get that comfortable feeling when you walk in like you’re stepping into a home not just a house. It’s interesting and intriguing to know that this house was once the center of commerce and activity in town.”
Originally built in the 1890s, the house served as the residence of local business owner John G. DeBaun. Adjacent to the home, located on land which is now on the opposite side of West Saddle River Road, was DeBaun’s business, a combination general store and post office built in 1861. This original store would burn down on Easter morning of 1900, and the lower level of the house would become the temporary post office and general store until a new store could be built. The home’s commercial role would be brief, as DeBaun built that new building within 12 months.
In 1910, the new store building, like its predecessor, would burn, once again calling upon the house to serve the community. Deciding two fires had been enough, DeBaun moved on to work as a wholesaler in New York, but, still the Postmaster, he would move the post office operations into the dining room of the home to serve the community and to provide a contingency in case he did not like his new line of work. DeBaun’s wife would operate the post office in the daytime and leave him to manage the books in the evening. As predicted, within a year, he would get out of wholesale and return to his business routes, building a third store building a few blocks away from the home. The post office operation would then shift to the new store, with DeBaun operating both until he was forced to retire due to ill health some years later.
The current owners bought this rare historical gem in 2000. While they were looking for a “home with character,” they were pleasantly surprised to learn that a house, with such a great story living within its walls, was available. They quickly fell in love with the history and legacy of the home and were drawn to the fact that many of the historical elements of the home had been painstakingly preserved. This includes the original stained glass windows throughout the home that give it such great character.
In addition to falling in love with the home itself, the homeowners greatly admired the town. Saddle River, known for its relaxed environment and connection with nature, is perfect for anyone looking to get out of the urban setting but still is within close proximity to Manhattan. Although on the main street, the couple realized early on in their transition that living on a busy street was not a negative thing. “The home’s quiet and peaceful tone, location on the property and natural barriers virtually wipe away major noise,” they concluded.
While the core of the home is original and it looks similar to some of its earliest photographs, an addition was put onto the home 1990s to create more living space and connect the house with the garage. The addition, along with the installation of modern heating and cooling technology, and other modern conveniences have been made over the years with painstaking detail and a careful eye not to disturb the home’s historical character and elements, all under the watchful eye and regulations of various historical commissions.
“The house has the perfect combination of old-world charm and modern convenience but still remains true to its historical legacy,” says Marisa Traverso, a Realtor Associate with Special Properties Real Estate Services, who currently represents the property on the real estate market. “The right type of buyer for this home needs to be able to celebrate its historical nature, appreciate its role in the legacy of Saddle River, and be willing to be its caretaker for the future.”
For more information on the property, call 201-906-2519.