The Oakcroft neighborhood, from Godfrey Road looking north along Edgemont Road, around 1919. (M. Leva, Stationer, via Lisanne Renner Collection)
Aaron W. Godfrey in the 1940s. (Courtesy Aaron W. Godfrey)
aron W. Godfrey – who had formerly owned a silver mine in Mexico, sold insurance and worked at newspapers – made his first foray into real estate development in 1906 by shopping for land in Upper Montclair. Attracted by Essex County’s newly created Anderson Park, he bought about 18 acres immediately south of the park and promised its landscape architect, John C. Olmsted, that he would build “fairly good dwellings” surrounding it. The result is Oakcroft, and for more than 110 years the park and its adjacent residents have been friendly neighbors, creating what the original Oakcroft sales brochure called “a residential park.”
The Oakcroft sales brochure for the Godfrey Land & Building Company, from around 1908.
The architects George A. Freeman and Francis G. Hasselman designed the earliest houses in the subdivision, which now numbers some 80 homes built largely between 1907 and 1946. The varied architectural styles include Tudor Revival, American Foursquare, Craftsman, Colonial Revival and Prairie influences. The neighborhood’s streets consist of Godfrey Road, Edgemont Road, Princeton Place, Carteret Street, Oakcroft Avenue and The Parkside. Streets running north/south directly link to paths through Anderson Park. Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo 11 astronaut, grew up in one of Oakcroft’s original homes.
Montclair’s Historic Preservation Commission nominated Oakcroft for designation as a historic district, but in 2020 objections from residents shelved that effort.