Enclosure Historic District

Nutley Twp, Essex County, NJ

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The Enclosure Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡] .

Around the turn of the 20th century there were more noted artists and writers in Nutley than in any other community in New Jersey, with the possible exception of Montclair. Many of the artists clustered around an area in Nutley called The Enclosure. James R. Hay, who lived in the John Mason House in Calico Lane, probably can be credited with convincing creative individuals to settle in The Enclosure. Hay dealt with real estate in New York City and was able to tap the enormous resources of the city, including the influx of artistic talent. It was probably not terribly difficult to convince people to reside or work in the area. The rustic beauty and the quiet setting of The Enclosure was certainly ideal for concentrating artists. The green setting of The Enclosure was much more conducive to creative work than urban New York City. The market, however, was still in New York so most of the artists living or working within The Enclosure also had studios in the city and commuted via the railroad which had a station in Nutley merely two blocks away. The railroad, built around 1885, enabled The Enclosure to develop.

Frank Fowler (1852-1910) built the first artist's studio within The Enclosure around 1880 without the convenience of a nearby railroad station. Fowler was a painter and an art critic. He was born in Brooklyn, attended Adelphi Academy, and was later educated in Europe. For two years he was a pupil of Edwin White in Florence, and Carolus Duran at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Fowler helped paint Duran's "Gloria Marial Medicis" in 1878 which was exhibited at the Paris Exposition. In the same year he had a painting shown in the first exhibition of the Society of American Artists. One of his paintings, "Young Bacchus," was exhibited at the Paris Exposition. In 1893 Fowler painted the ceiling frescoes of the old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel ballroom (demolished when the Empire State Building was erected). Fowler also painted portraits. Among his clients were: William Dean Howells, Charles A. Dana (editor of the N.Y. Sun and also Asst. Secretary of War 1863-65), Archbishop Corrigan, Governor Rosewell P. Flower and Governor Samuel J. Tildon (also Presidential candidate in 1876). Fowler wrote three art instruction books. He won various awards in Paris (1889), Atlanta (1895), Buffalo (1901), Charleston (1902), and Berlin (1903). Fowler's wife was also a talented portrait painter. When she died Frank Fowler moved out of The Enclosure.

Frederick Dana Marsh (1872-1961) promptly occupied the Fowler studio and house. Marsh was a muralist, sculptor, painter, and architect. Educated at the Chicago Art Institute and in Paris his art opened up an entirely new concept in American art. Marsh was the first to use industrial themes in his work. Working in coal mines, factories, shipyards, and steel mills he portrayed the laborer at work. Marsh's entire collection of industrial paintings are owned by the Renselear Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York. One of his paintings entitled "The Last Rock" hangs in the lobby of the engineering building of the Smithsonian Institute. Marsh won awards at the Paris Exposition (1900), the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo (1901), and the St. Louis Exposition (1904). Alice Randall Marsh, the first wife of Frederick Dana, was also an artist; in particular a miniature painter. She attended Chicago Art Institute and was further trained in Paris under the tutelage of the likes of Merson, Collin, Whistler, and MacMonnies. Mrs. Marsh lived in Nutley after she and her husband separated. Two of the Marsh's sons were also artists. James Marsh later specialized in wrought iron art and antique reproductions. The other, Reginald Marsh, (1898-1954) was born in France, but raised in Nutley. He had his first one-man show in New York in 1930. His works are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Library of Congress, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Reginald was also an illustrator (Life and New Yorker), a cartoonist (Vanity Fair and Harper's Bazaar), and a muralist. He painted the murals in the United States Customs House on lower Broadway, New York.

Guy Pene du'Bois (1884-1958) probably lived in the Marsh House for a short time around 1915. duBois studied in New York under William M. Chase, J. Carroll Beckwith, Frank Vincent DuMond, Robert Henri, and Kenneth Hayes Miller. In 1906 duBois was a reporter and art critic for the New York American. Later he became assistant art critic for the New York Tribune, and, later still, art critic for the New York Evening Post. duBois was at one time editor of Arts and Decorations. He also was an artist of some note. His satirical, almost mocking paintings are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Newark Museum, the Whitney Museum (N.Y.), the Los Angeles Museum of American Art, and the Phillip Memorial Gallery (Washington, D.C.).

Of recent note, Michael Lenson (1903-1970), the most recent artist who has lived in the Fowler-Marsh House, has murals in the Newark City Hall, Mount Hope (West Virginia), Verona Sanatorium, Weequahic High School, and a United States Treasury Department Post Office. Lenson also did the murals for the New Jersey pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair. He was the Assistant New Jersey Supervisor in the mural and easel division of the 1930's Federal Arts Program. A teacher at Rutgers University, Lenson was also the art critic for the Newark Sunday News.

Albert Sterner (1863-1946), portrait painter, etcher, lithographer, illustrator, and writer lived for a time at 48 Enclosure Street and had his studio next door. Sterner studied at Julien's Academy and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. He came to the United States in 1878 and did lithographs and illustrations for several magazines in Chicago. In 1885 he set up a studio in New York. As a painter, Sterner considered himself a "progressive conservative" and opposed modernism in art. His best known works are his portraits. Some of his most notable clients were: Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Mary Hall, William L. Clayton (Assistant Secretary of State), Adolf A. Berle, Jr. (also Assistant Secretary of State), and King Prajadhipok of Siam.

Charles W. Hawthorne (1872-1930) went to New York to study art when he was eighteen. He worked his way through school under some of the best artists of the period; Frank Vincent DuMond, George DeForest Brush, and William M. Chase, at the Art Students League of New York. Hawthorne followed Chase when he formed the Chase School (later the New York School of Art) and taught in the school for several years. His later home was in Massachusetts, but for a time he lived in the Enclosure. Hawthorne won the following awards: Hallgarten Prize (National Academy of Design, 1904), the silver medal at the Argentine International Exposition (1910), Altman Prize and Isidor Gold Medal (National Academy of Design, 1914), the silver medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition (1915), and the Norman Wait Harris Prize (Art Institute of Chicago 1917). Displaying Hawthorne's work are: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Corcoran Gallery (Washington), The Peabody Institute (Baltimore), and the Hackley Gallery (Muskegon, Michigan). Marion G. Hawthorne, his wife, was also a painter.

At 55 Enclosure Street Arthur Hoeber (1854-1915) lived and worked from 1891 on when the combination house and studio was built. Hoeber, a painter, studied at the Art Students League in New York under J. Carroll Beckwith and later at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under J.L. Gerome. He exhibited at the Salon (1882-1885) and received honorable mention at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo (1901). Hoeber was also the art critic of the New York Evening Globe, Times and Journal and authored several books on 19th century painting.

Earl Stetson Crawford (1877-1966) lived at 41 Enclosure Street for at least five years, perhaps many more. He was educated at the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Delacluse and Julien Academies, and the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris. In addition, Crawford received training in Munich, London, Rome, Florence, and Venice. From 1912-17 he was connected with the School of Applied Design for Women in New York. Crawford was a portrait painter and a muralist. His murals are in numerous government buildings throughout the country; the Albany State House being his most significant work. Crawford also directed the artwork for several publications. In Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters...(1926), Earl Stetson Crawford's address is listed as "The Enclosure," Nutley, New Jersey.

Crawford's wife, Brenetta Herman Crawford (1877-1956), was also an artist of some note. She painted portraits, landscapes, miniatures, and also taught. Ms. Crawford studied at the New York Art Students League and in Paris under Paul Albert Besnard. Her works have been exhibited in the: National Academy of Design, Society of American Artists, City Army Museum of St. Louis, Boston Art Club, Carnegie Institute, and the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris. The Crawfords had studios in both New York and Nutley until their daughter's marriage in 1922.

One final artist, Fernand Harvey Lungren (1858-1932), lived in The Enclosure for a short period before going west. His exact address, however, is presently unknown. Lungren studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and in Ohio and New York. He was a painter and illustrator and the founder of the Santa Barbara School of Art in California. Typically Lungren painted scenes of the west; even before 1907 when he left the east for California, While an illustrator in the east he did the graphics for Stewart Edward White's novels: The Mountains and The Pass.


The John Mason House, built in 1812, is a fine example of Federal style architecture as adapted in New Jersey. Constructed of cut red sandstone quarried nearby, the main house remains relatively unaltered. The mantels in the interior of the house are Adamesque with rosettes, ellipses, and diamonds carved in them. There is an old kitchen in the cellar floor which is partially exposed. Much of the original hardware and woodwork remains intact.

The homes of the artists in the Enclosure Historic District, not exceptional works of architecture in and of themselves, are still rather unique in their purpose. They were constructed as studios and homes for late nineteenth-early twentieth century artists. No one style is alike, but most of the structures have high-ceiling studios within their interiors. One of these, recently the house and studio of the late Michael Lenson, still retains the complete look and feeling of an artist's workshop.


The Nutley Library was established in the fall of 1896, probably through the influence and encouragement of the artists and writers living in Nutley. At that time a building opposite the Nutley Railroad Station was loaned to the community by James Hay to house and distribute accumulated books.

In 1898 the library was moved, but it was soon returned, where it remained until the erection of the Nutley Library.

Built on the west side of Passaic Avenue, opposite Highfield Lane on land donated by Charles T. Barney this new library was opened in 1904. The architect of the library was Baron Von Strom (William Strom) who lived next door at Passaic Avenue and Enclosure Street.

Soon the library was incorporated and the board members included James R. Hay and J.V. Bouvier (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis grandfather).

In 1913 it was resolved that the Nutley Library give their substantial collection of some 3,000 books to the new Free Public Library soon to be constructed. Also in the resolution was that this private library be closed in 1914. The Nutley Free Public Library was dedicated in 1915 to the memory of Arthur Hoeber, who had died that year.


Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers. James F. Carr, New York: 1965.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography.

The Nutley Sun. "When The Enclosure was a Rustic Latin Quarter. April 6, 1951.

The History of Nutley. Elizabeth Stow Brown. Nutley, NJ: 1907.

Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families. Rosalie F. Bailey. New York: 1936.

Newark Sunday News. "Michael Lenson" February 8, 1970.

Municipalities of Essex County, New Jersey. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York: 1925.

‡ Terry Karschner, Historian/Curator and Historic Sites Section Staff, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Enclosure Historic District, Essex County, NJ, nomination document, 1973, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Calico Lane • Enclosure Street • Passaic Avenue

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