Interest Manor (149 Watchung Avenue)

149 Watchung Avenue
NJ 07042

Interest Manor (149 Watchung Avenue)

Historical Feature


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"This historic house, a large Dutch Colonial house built in 1723, is listed on the State Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest home in Montclair. This extended and much altered dwelling could be the oldest house in Montclair. The building has been well documented and researched by the owner, Mary Travis Arny, a local author and historian. The building was evaluated by the New Jersey Historical Site Inventory in 1961. It was
included in the Survey of the Town, carried out by the Montclair Historical Society in 1971.
The house has grown from a one room Dutch cottage of hand quarried stone to a multi-room dwelling and changed on the outside to a Victorian house with rounded corner section and turret above. Many legends have been woven around the house and its former owners. Its most common name is the “Christian Interest” house after Christian Interest, who married Elizabeth Garrabant, the daughter of the original owner. Tradition has it that both Washington and Lafayette stayed in the house because it was the only important building in town at the time
except for the Crane house at the corner of Claremont Avenue and Valley Road (circa 1780).
In this century, the house has been the home of such well known persons as Alexander Black, famous editor of the New York World, Thomas Travis, "The fighting Parson", and also has been the gathering place for such persons of quality as the late Rev. Dr. Hugo Black and Harry Emerson Fosdick. The pine paneled library with some 5,000 volumes has been restored and the barn and outbuildings from the early 1800's are intact. Records and drawings are in the custody of the owner, Mary T. Arny, the current (1981) owner.


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