Lambertville, NJ 08530
The Historic Preservation Commission provides careful review of proposed development to ensure new or rehabilitated buildings within the City reflect and maintain Lambertville’s architecturally significant landscape. The Commission also provides guidance to homeowners who wish to preserve the historic look of their homes and buildings.
There are many buildings in Lambertville’s commercial and office districts dating back to the 19th and early 20th century. These buildings noticeably reflect the architectural elements and styles of the Victorian and colonial revival period, such as the long arched or segmented windows, articulated cornices and architectural details such as dentils and brackets. The buildings were typically constructed of natural building materials, such as brick, stucco or clapboard. Many of the buildings also have landscaping, street trees, and planter boxes. The use of flagstone and brick pathways and wrought iron and wooden fences significantly adds a textural richness to the building sites and the City landscape. This combination of architectural detail and site design has made the buildings in the commercial and office districts compatible with their residential neighbors and attractive sites in their own right.
While it is not the intention to inhibit architectural creativity or individuality, incorporating similar architectural and site features in new and redeveloped sites will weave a common thread throughout the City and protect the cohesive landscape that gives Lambertville its unique and charming character.
In 2010, the City of Lambertville completed major renovations to the exterior of its historic City Hall, a 140 year-old architectural landmark. The ten-month, $1.7 million project focused primarily on the exterior of the building, including pointing of the building’s stonework, restoration and repair of all windows and a new slate roof. Further upgrades – a five stop elevator and handicapped accessible bathrooms – have made the building fully ADA compliant. The plan was developed by Eric Holtermann, AIA, of HMR Architects of Princeton.
The renovation also uncovered several original elements to the house, including the original shutters built on the interior of the windows, nailed shut and perfectly preserved. The blinds were removed and the shutters were opened on all floors.
City Hall, formerly known as the A. H. Holcombe house, was built in the 1870s by Alexander Henry Holcombe as a wedding gift for his wife, Malverna K. Merta, and remained the home of the Holcombe family until 1922. A direct descendent of the original Holcombe Family who held title to land in the north portion of Lambertville and adjoining plantations, Alexander was a wealthy lawyer and was active in local affairs.
In June 1950 the City purchased the home from St. John’s Catholic Church and converted the building into City Hall. Throughout the 20th Century, the building was served many different City functions – it was at one time or another the home of the Clerk’s Office, Police Department, Municipal Court, Tax Office, Finance and the Construction Office. For several years, the second floor was used for the Free and Public Library prior to its relocation to the former Samuel Lilly Mansion on Lilly Street. In 1983, it was listed as part of the Lambertville Historic District on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.
The renovation project began in the summer of 1999. Led by Former Mayor David DelVecchio, City officials started investigating an alternative site for the Police Department. Local architect Michael Burns was hired to provide assistance in the search and presented several options to Mayor and Council, which included selling the Holcombe House. However, residents encouraged Mayor and Council to renovate and preserve the character of the historic building, as it is one of the earliest and best examples of the French Second Empire style in Lambertville.
Local historians John and Barbara Hencheck started the “Friends of the A.H. Holcombe House,” and began a major fund raising plan to assist with the costly renovations. They were instrumental in the purchase of the wrought iron fence and gas lighting that presently adorn the front of the building.
Former Mayor DelVecchio, and the City Council also sought major matching grants from the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund of the New Jersey Historic Trust and the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.
An active participant in the construction, Former Mayor DelVecchio secured the services of Jingoli Construction to provide assistance with the project. Council President Steve Stegman is credited for the many color and product choices that add to the beauty and charm of this wonderful building.
The building is a true testament of Alexander’s love for Malverna. City Hall was featured on the Annual House Tour organized by the Historical Society and held the third weekend in October. Visitors to Lambertville are welcome to tour the building; City Hall is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, excluding holidays.
Meetings are held the second Tuesday of the month beginning at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 18 York Street, Lambertville. For more information please contact the commission via email.