Wednesday, August 22, 2007
From Toxic Passaic to Llewellyn Estates
Montclair's preeminent historian, Frank G. Godlewski, contributed this historical insight on the influence of Passaic River pollution on Llewellyn Haskell, one of N. Essex County's leading aristocrats, leading to the development of the region:
Mr Llewellyn Haskell lived at his estate, "Belmont" in North Arlington, designed by A.J. Davis. The drinking water was piped up from the Passaic River and stored in water towers in this castellated villa. Due apparently to river pollution from nearby Patterson industries, Haskell's wife and children (except one son) died of diseases (in the 1840's). Mr. Haskell was one of the richest men of NY and his chemicals trade then became MERCK. Devastated by the deaths in his family, his architect took him to healthier land that promised itself to be a romantic and picturesque paradise...Bloomfield.
A. J. Davis's family homestead, once on the Morris Canal, is now the Bloomfield Steak House and the land now the town green. A.J.'s grandfather, Deacon Joseph Davis, (husband of Anna Crane of Cranetown (Montclair)), founded the First Presbyterian Church and the Bloomfield Cemetery. Davis encouraged Haskell to buy land to pursue a project of creating an ideal community of likeminded, illuminated individuals.
Haskell was a Swedenborghist and a staunch abolitionist. Davis adapted an existing farmhouse for him calling it Bloomfield Villa, still standing on Llewellyn Road. Haskell may be considered on of the first real estate developers of our area and Davis the first architects. Davis's house designs in the 1840's country house pattern books that he did for Downing, includes several local house designs. Llewellyn Park originally began on Llewellyn Road in Montclair to 280 and then extended up from Orange Road to Eagle Rock Reservation.... Llewellyn Haskell's son was a general of an all African American troop in the Civil War.