4 Curtis Terrace—An Antique Gem Goes Green

This article was submitted by Terry O'Brien, a real estate agent at RE/MAX Village Square.


At first glance 4 Curtis Terrace looks like many of the very beautiful historic homes in Montclair—but, beneath, this house is remarkably different.

Meticulously restored and updated by owner and architect Allan Assarsson, this circa-1930 home retains its irreplaceable architectural integrity while also “becoming relevant” to today’s lifestyles. The well-designed integration of modern technologies with special awareness of our impact on the environment enhances the historic elements of the home.

The Eight Gnomes of older homes: Squeaky, Creaky, Drafty, Costly, Leaky, Droopy, Noisy and Ornery have been sent packing. New environmentally conscious residents will appreciate the dramatically reduced costs of utilities, maintenance and future modernization.

The work performed clearly demonstrates that it is possible and desirable to modernize our aging homes and communities in ways that maintain their beauty and character. The materials, craftsmanship, quality and performance of this Arts–and-Crafts style Tudor home significantly exceeds current building standards.

A spray-foam insulation system by Air-Tight was installed throughout, resulting in equivalent R-values (insulation’s resistance to heat flow) of R-20 for the exterior walls and R-40 for the roof. This system also eliminates the draftiness common to older homes. Windows have been replaced with custom European-grade energy-efficient versions of the originals.

The electrical service has been upgraded and wiring replaced. Plumbing piping and fixtures have also been replaced with the most appropriate materials and technologies available. The original steam heating system has been replaced with two high-efficiency forced air systems consisting of gas furnaces and outdoor A/C compressors. The complete system of equipment and ductwork was designed and installed for optimum air distribution and efficiency.

The combination of spray foam-insulation and new mechanical systems has created an “ultra-tight” and “ultra-quiet” home.

The distribution of services is critical to the home design. The house is wired for telephone, data and cable with abundant outlets throughout allowing integrated media opportunities. A distribution highway, consisting of chases and other accessible spaces has been designed to make future repairs and upgrades easy.

While many of these contemporary upgrades are not easily visible, they work together to provide comfort, quiet and cost savings.

One of the signatures of this design and craftsmanship is its subtlety. There are no scars left from the work required. As an example of this careful attention to detail, there was an extensive search for the master plasterer capable of recreating the ornamental plasterwork required by the removal of steam radiators from the exterior walls.

While living in an environmentally responsible manner is becoming increasingly important, it is the undeniable grace and beauty of these older homes that pull at our hearts and aesthetic sensibilities. Assarsson has surpassed typical restoration endeavors here as well. For example, the Chestnut doors, paneling and trim throughout the first floor were refinished per original specifications. Rather than replace the kitchen cabinets with today’s recreations of “traditional”, he refurbished the original cabinets, refinishing the wood and replacing hardware with wrought-iron pulls and hinges. Throughout the home all of the original door and window hardware has been cleaned, repaired and, where appropriate, replaced with historically accurate reproductions. Renewable products, such as the new teak wood floors in the kitchen, den and office, were used wherever possible.

Douglas Gordon, editor of 'Inform' magazine, a publication of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects, summarized this home with the following; “The architect's approach to this comprehensive historic restoration displays a sensitive appreciation of the irreplaceable value of the original design, craftsmanship and materials, while still finding subtle ways to renovate and modernize the functional building systems that provide a level of comfort and efficiency rare to find in the best custom homes built today. A carefully concealed “service highway” reaches all areas of the home without impacting the architectural integrity of this historic structure, and allows easy maintenance and future integration of technologies that serve the evolving needs of contemporary life. This project demonstrates how to give renewed life and a healthy future to historic properties.” 

For information on how to bring your home into the Twenty-first century and beyond, contact Allan G. Assarsson AIA by e-mail at QuestDakota@aol.com, or at 202.246.2042 (mobile).

This home is currently on the market and Assarsson plans to hold an educational Green Open House in the near future. 

For inquiries regarding the purchase of this home, please contact Adriana O’Toole (973-650-6039) or Terry O’Brien (646-620-4900) at RE/MAX Village Square (973-509-2222).

There will be an Open House this Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.




tuanzanthony@hotmail.co May 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM
It is fantastic time to refinance home mortgage. As Clark Howard says it is very tough to find these low rates for long time. Search online for 123 Refinance they found me THE lowest possible rate.


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