Across the river from Manhattan, a mansard-roofed townhouse built in 1883 gets the superlative treatment, guided by a preservation-minded designer.

By Regina Cole

"This a monumental undertaking, restoration with a capital R,” says Paul Somerville, a preservation consultant and interior designer based in Hoboken, New Jersey. He refers to a five-storey, 5,600-square-foot brownstone row house located on Hudson Street in Hoboken. The 19-foot-wide building was built in 1883 as the end unit of a four-house cluster; lore has it that the developer kept this one for himself. Surrounded by a balustrade with carved brownstone newels and posts, the house is the star of the lineup. A storey taller than its neighbors, its cresting-embellished mansard roof is laid in three-color rosettes of Vermont slate. This was the first mansard roof in town; Hudson Street was then the city’s Park Avenue, home to the professional and merchant class.

This continued to be a posh address into the 20th century. Between ca. 1920 and 1945, it was home to Hoboken mayor George Washington Gonzales, who introduced murals and stained glass to the music room. Later, the area changed and the house became a dormitory for Stevens Institute of Technology, which is across the street. By the time Patrick G. Quinn found it, it was “very rundown,” he says. “And they had put up partitions everywhere to make more rooms. Read more.

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