The Captain William Tyson House is a boldly detailed two-and-one-half-story home built about 1863-64 and is one of the most elaborate of Bergen County’s few remaining grand Italianate houses. Tyson was a captain of sailing ships, who became a ship chandler in New York City. He and his family resided at this country home after 1864. The house was purchased by the Township of Rochelle Park in 2015 and was issued a Certificate of Eligibility for listing on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in the same year. Since that time, the Rochelle Park Township Committee has changed in composition, and the current majority wants to sell or tear down the structure. The Rochelle Park Historical Society, who has been assisting with upkeep and has interest in offering public programs at the house, is attempting to forestall either of these actions by the Township Committee.
Highlighting the entrance of the home is a porch of robust design with grouped columns, heavy cornice, and balustrade. It is distinguished by further markers of the Italianate style – cube-like shape; tall, narrow windows; and a rooftop cupola. Paired scroll brackets separate the small attic windows. Strong central accents are provided by the ornate entrance porch with its arched spandrels and heavy detailing, the richly treated center bay of the second story and the central cupola. Entering this house today is like taking a step back in time. The interior is amazingly unaltered. It features natural gas brass chandeliers, a grand staircase in the entrance foyer, carved marble mantels unique to each room, large pier infinity mirrors, floor-to-ceiling windows to let in natural light, elaborate, decorative plaster, and original gas sconces.
Although the original clapboard siding of the house was covered with synthetic shingles in the 1950s, this outstanding two-and-one-half-story frame house retains much of its mid-nineteenth-century grandeur. The house is in good shape structurally; however, the ceilings in several rooms were badly damaged by a leaking roof. This grand Italianate house is now a rarity in Northern New Jersey and should be saved.
To date, the Township has repaired the roof, replaced the heating system, and painted the exterior and the garage. The Rochelle Park Mayor and Township Committee received a 2015 Bergen County Historic Preservation Award for “Preservation of a Structure, Object or Site,” and were commended for their commitment to historic preservation. These previous efforts are now at risk under the current administration. The Captain William Tyson House highlights the threat faced by countless municipally-owned historic properties that must weather changing administrations and shifting political whims. PNJ urges the Township to continue their efforts to preserve the building and live up to the precedent they set for themselves in recent years.
Rochelle Park Historical Society