Tichenor House, a less than ‘grand' appearance for an historic site

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    WEST MILFORD-The historic yet dilapidated Tichenor House is clearly visible from the road for the first time in years. Local concerned citizen Elaine Duffy requested help from Passaic County Sheriff Speziale, and he responded on Nov. 15 and 16 by sending a team of inmates to clear the roadside adjacent to the house. Passing traffic now sees the sad state of one of West Milford Township's oldest buildings. The house stands on Warwick Turnpike almost directly opposite the Country Roads Deli. It boasts two smaller buildings to the rear with a pond and surrounding land, which comprises the entire property. Previously, overgrown weeds had all but completely hid its current condition to everyone but those who cherished the grand home. For Duffy and her group, The Friends of Tichenor House, they have achieved some small measure of success, although it comes with an alarming admission: "At least now if the house does collapse everybody will see it go down." The house is surrounded by a chain link fence to prevent access, which Duffy believes is a wise move. To enter the building in its current condition would be extremely dangerous. Duffy wrote to the former governor, James McGreevey, and Commissioner Bradley Campbell of the Department of Environmental Protection, urging them to take action before it's too late. But she has yet to force the breakthrough the house needs to survive. "If the roof is not covered by a tarp before the worst of the winter sets in it could collapse," Duffy said. The county is taking bids on covering the roof but with no apparent deadline to begin necessary work. The house dates back to 1754, and its name is derived from the descendants of Martin Tichenor, believed to be one of the original settlers of Newark, in 1666. After more than 200 years of regular use, the Passaic County administrators took control of the estate. In the subsequent 18 years the county has stood still, allowing the property to deteriorate and become a relic of West Milford history rather than a proud symbol of its heritage. Along with the efforts of the town's Historic Preservation Commission, Duffy believes that concerted pressure on the county can see the funds being found to start the repairs and save the house from complete dereliction. Duffy admits she has a special place in her heart for the remarkable building. Three generations of her family have lived across the street from the house. She has had to observe the local treasure's gradual decline. The county engineer responsible for the site was unavailable for comment. However, the administration office did admit it was "a very sensitive issue." Duffy pledged to continue fighting to preserve the house along with friends and the commission. "I hope to make people understand that if this historic building is lost then it is lost forever," she sai