The $10 Mansion That NEVER SOLD
In 2017, a remarkable opportunity emerged in Montclair, New Jersey, as a stunning Victorian mansion was listed for sale at an unbelievably low price of $10. The property, known as the Aubrey Lewis House, was a historic gem with a rich history dating back to its construction in 1906. Designed by renowned architect Dudley S. Van Antwerp, this six-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath mansion stood as a testament to the architectural beauty of the era. However, the catch was that whoever purchased the house would need to relocate it within a quarter-mile radius.
The History of the Aubrey Lewis House
The Aubrey Lewis House, located at 44 Pleasant Avenue, Montclair, was more than just a beautiful residence. It carried a significant historical legacy. Aubrey Lewis, a highly regarded figure in the community, resided in this majestic mansion with his wife, Ann, and their five children. Lewis was an accomplished All-American athlete and became one of the first African Americans to work for the FBI. He also held a senior executive position at a Fortune 100 company. The Lewis family called this house their home until Aubrey's passing in 2001.
The Opportunity and Catch
The decision to sell the Aubrey Lewis House for a mere $10 arose when the Montclair Township Planning Board approved a subdivision of the land surrounding the property. Boddie-Noell Enterprises, Inc. (BNE), a development company, took charge of the project. Initially, the Montclair Township Historic Preservation Commission resisted the demolition of the house, prompting discussions for an alternative solution. Eventually, an agreement was reached: the house could be moved rather than destroyed. This condition led to the unprecedented sale of the mansion for a nominal price.
The $10 Listing and Moving Costs
The $10 listing price for the Aubrey Lewis House caught the attention of many aspiring homeowners, but the relocation costs posed a significant challenge. Reports suggested that moving the house could cost up to $200,000, not including the purchase of a new plot of land nearby. The developers, however, offered a maximum contribution of $10,000 towards the buyer's moving expenses. Despite the financial burden, the potential to own and preserve a piece of history enticed many individuals.
The Unsuccessful Search for a New Owner
Despite the allure of owning a historic mansion at an incredibly low price, no viable buyers came forward to purchase and relocate the Aubrey Lewis House. Laurena White, the Lewis family's real estate agent, expressed disappointment at the lack of interest from potential buyers. The deadline for offers passed without any takers, and the fate of the mansion was sealed. Unfortunately, the neighborhood lost not only a beautiful home but also a significant piece of its history.
The Demolition and the Rise of 'The Collection'
With no viable buyers stepping forward, the demolition of the Aubrey Lewis House commenced in mid-May of 2018. In its place, a cluster of new-construction homes known as 'The Collection' now stands. These modern single-family homes, starting at $800,000, have replaced the historic mansion that once stood on 2.7 acres of land. While the neighborhood gains new residents and modern living spaces, it mourns the loss of a cherished piece of architectural heritage.
The Legacy of Aubrey Lewis
Although the Aubrey Lewis House is no more, the memory of Aubrey Lewis and his contributions to Montclair live on. In recognition of his achievements and influence, the street on which the new development stands was renamed Lewis Court. Aubrey Lewis Jr., one of Aubrey Lewis's children, expressed his satisfaction with the tribute to his father, stating, "I'm very pleased that they're honoring my father by naming the street Lewis Court." The new development may have replaced the historic mansion, but the legacy of Aubrey Lewis will forever be woven into the fabric of Montclair.
The story of the $10 historic mansion in Montclair, New Jersey, captivated the imagination of many prospective buyers. The opportunity to own a piece of history at such a low price seemed too good to pass up. Unfortunately, the challenge of relocating the house and the associated costs proved to be insurmountable for potential buyers. As a result, the Aubrey Lewis House was demolished, making way for a new community of modern homes. While the neighborhood continues to evolve, the memory of Aubrey Lewis and the remarkable mansion he once called home will be remembered as an integral part of Montclair's history.