The Oakes Mansion
The Design of the Oakes Mansion
The Oakes Mansion, constructed in 1895 and designed by New York architect Charles Granville Jones, is a well-preserved example of turn of the 20th century architecture.
The 2-1/2 story, 23 room, dormer and hipped roof house has a center hall plan with 3 bays linked by a long horizontal expanse of paired column and roofed porch across the front and wrapping around each side. Construction is of local “brownstone” at its base, with cedar shingles above, with both Colonial Revival and Queen Anne detailing.
The interior of the house has remained remarkably well preserved and intact through the years, a reflection of its being continuously occupied by a single family since its construction.
The original design was modified by means of one story extensions to the east and west sides, first a porte-cochere at the west side, extending the porch roof and colonnade out to the driveway; then a solarium, constructed at the east side of the house in 1926, also integrated into the porch and main body of the house through the continuation of the roofline, paired column bays and ornamentation. A sleeping porch, built in 1915 when Mr. Oakes contracted typhoid fever, is thought to have aided his recovery by providing fresh air at night.
The Carriage House, one of the outbuildings, recalls the main house’s Colonial Revival style. Like the main house, the Carriage House, a 2-story structure, has a hipped slate roof with dormer windows. Detailed with beaded board, the ground floor contains a storage area, 2 recently added handicapped-accessible restrooms, and a large open space designed to store carriages and gardening equipment. The now fully renovated and restored 2nd floor is a caretaker apartment with full bath and kitchenette.
Together with the main house and outbuildings including the carriage house, a chicken coop and children’s playhouse, the gardens and site work comprise an integrated composition that is representative of the genteel lifestyle of a prominent New Jersey family at the beginning of the 20th century. The Oakeside Estate is now one of the last remaining residences in Bloomfield representative of this lifestyle.
Charles Granville Jones – The Architect
Charles Granville Jones was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1865. He studied architecture with his father, Richard Charles Jones, and opened his own architectural business in New York City in 1886. He was a longtime resident of Belleville, NJ, where he died on Jun. 24, 1938.
In addition to the Oakes Mansion, Mr. Jones’ architectural designs include Bloomfield High School, Brookside and Fairview Elementary Schools as well as an additional home built in 1895 for Thomas Oakes, which was lost during the construction of the Garden State Parkway. He also designed many of Belleville’s prominent buildings including the Belleville town hall, public library, Methodist church, First National Bank, and the old high school. Mr. Jones approved designs for Belleville public schools 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8.
Sources: Belleville: 150th-Anniversary Historical Highlights 1839-1989 by Robert B. Burnett and the Belleville 150th-Anniversary Committee Belleville, New Jersey. 1991; and The Historical Society of Bloomfield Newsletter, Vol. 10. No. 10, April 2004, Pg. 3.
Vintage Photos of Interior Rooms at the Oakes Mansion