Then & Now


Photo by Karen Zautyk


This stately home, known as the Gen. Alexander Macomb House, stood at 125 Main St. in Belleville, fronting on the Passaic River just a couple of blocks south of the Belleville Pike bridge. The photo dates from the 1930s, but the home was much, much older. It was built in 1798- 99, with the two-story addition at the left constructed about 1870. Despite its name, it wasn’t built by Gen. Macomb, who was only 17 years old in 1799. 

According to the Historic American Buildings Survey, the original owner was his aunt Sarah Macomb, who was later to become his mother-in-law. Alexander ‘probably lived with her while attending the Newark Academy’ (which was then located in that city, not Livingston) and continued residing in the house after his marriage to Sarah’s daughter Catherine in 1803, though for how long we do not know. 

Gen. Macomb became a hero of the War of 1812 and went on to serve as Commanding General of the U.S. Army from 1828 until 1841, when he died in Washington, D.C. 

Sarah Macomb is believed to have sold the house in 1821, and it subsequently changed hands many times, until it was demolished in March 1940, ‘on account of tax burden.’ 

Today, the site is an apparently derelict industrial/commercial property and any river vista it once had is blocked by Rt. 21. 

– Karen Zautyk

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