7/2010 Update: There has been no change in status with regard to the Zoning Board application. It is still listed as a pending application. However, there are no current development plans on file at this time. It is owned by a realty company. No work has been done to the house and it sits vacant without a use.
9/2011: A three-alarm fire has significantly damaged the interior of the Gulick House. The fire has been attributed to faulty electrical wiring. The property is managed by Care One, LLC, based in Fort Lee. While the full extent of the damage is not known, firefighters broke windows and cut away portions of the building’s floors in order to fully extinguish the blaze. Township historian Dennis Walters was quoted: “The owners have allowed the house to deteriorate. The windows are boarded up, it’s an eyesore, but at the same time, in a historic and architectural sense, it’s a very beautiful thing. This is the price we pay for neglecting our history.”
This exceptional, high style, Italianate house was built in the third quarter of the 19th century by prominent local farmer William Gulick. Renovated several times – most notably in colonial revival style during the 1920s or ‘30s – the house consists of three sections: a five-bay-wide, three-story main building that faces Route 206, a two-story sun room on the west end, and a smaller, two-story wing that extends to the north.
The plan of the main wing consists of a center hall that runs front to back, a double parlor to the west, and a single large room to the east. Its first floor, which contains most of the home’s ornate and highly finished spaces has tall ceilings and four large fireplaces with wood mantels. Much of the 19th century wood and plasterwork is still in place. The extraordinary “U” shaped main stair runs completely through to the third floor, its openings allowing a spectacular view through the building.
The house remained a private residence until pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb purchased it in 1988 and considered converting it to a guesthouse and conference center. In recent years developers have submitted various plans to Lawrence Township for building an assisted living facility on the property. Some of these proposals have incorporated the house, but the latest plan under consideration contemplates its demolition.
The Gulick House is one of the finest examples of Italianate high style domestic architecture in central New Jersey, and its preservation is important to the character of Lawrence Township. PNJ hopes this Endangered Sites designation will help the interested parties to refocus on the need to preserve this building as a part of any development of the site. We recommend that the building be placed on the state and national registers of historic places, making it eligible for matching grants from the New Jersey Historic Trust. We also encourage any potential developer to look into the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits for historic buildings used as income producing properties.
Assistant Municipal Engineer
Lawrence Twp, NJ