BREAKING NEWARK: Fire Tears Through Newark Historic Kastner 'Elk’s Club' Mansion
Firefighters are on the scene battling a massive fire that's tearing through a vacant building in Newark’s South Ward at this time.
According to fire officials, heavy fire through the roof of the old Newark Elk's Club Mansion located in the 100 block of Clinton Avenue has over two dozen firefighters on the scene battling the ferocious blaze.
Crews were able to make entry inside the structure to search for possible trapped and injured occupants after residents say they knew at least five squatters that have been staying inside the building for weeks. It is not clear if firefighters found the squatters at this time.
Residents say they have made multiple complaints to the city about drug users and dealers using the building for illegal activity, but nothing has ever been done.
According to published reports, The Kastner Mansion is located at 176 Clinton Avenue, around the corner from Martin Luther King Boulevard, and is prominently sited on an oversized mid-block lot.
Constructed in 1892, the house is a three-story, 32-room Chateauesque structure, a costly and relatively rare style in New Jersey. The building is predominantly brick construction, with carved brownstone ornamentation.
The house remained a private residence until 1957 when it was converted into a casket factory and was expanded with a significant two-story addition, which included a workshop and a loading dock at the rear of the structure.
Subsequently, the business sold the building to Newark Lodge 93 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks for use as a lodge. The mid-century addition was used as a ballroom and event space. In 2007, the Elks sold the building for $1 to Denise Colon, a Newark business owner, and community leader.
According to reports, Ms. Colon fell behind on tax payments, which caused the city of Newark to take over the property some time ago.
Firefighters have not placed the fire under control as of 8:26 p.m. and the cause is under investigation.
UPDATE 8:44 P.M. NFD has gained the upper hand of this 3-alarm fire placing it under control at this time. The city and state has lost a beautiful but neglected historic structure.**