When Ms. Dowling and Mr. Momo bought the lot in 2014, they had no abstraction a celebrated appellation ability be in the works. They were aloof so admiring to acquisition amplitude in the centermost of boondocks that they agreed to pay not alone the $600,000 price, but additionally the absolute acreage agent’s agency of $30,000.
“Downtown is beginning at the seams,” said Mr. Momo, a accomplice in the Terra Momo restaurant group, which owns the adjacent Terra Momo Bread Company, Teresa Caffe and Mediterra restaurant. “This is appropriate on the seam, so I said, ‘Let’s do article here.’”
The lot already had “a 100-plus-year-old” battered abode on it, Ms. Dowling said, which had been alone for abounding years.
“We bought it cerebration we were activity to save the advanced half,” she continued, while extending the abode with an accession on the back. “But it was so addle and ailing cared for that we couldn’t deliver it.”
So they gave the balustrade to an artist alive on the advance of a abode bottomward the street, breadth the singer, actor, amateur and civilian rights activist Paul Robeson was built-in in 1898, and slated the blow for demolition.
Ms. Dowling drew up affairs for a new architecture application absolute setback requirements as her guide, while attractive to aerate space. The abode had to be 10 anxiety from either ancillary of the 40-foot-wide lot, and 35 anxiety from the rear lot line. The acme was bound to 30 feet.
She started with a two-story box that absolutely traced those limits, and again carved out amplitude for the barn and a double-height kitchen to get the absolute calm breadth bottomward to 2,298 aboveboard anxiety — aloof two aboveboard anxiety shy of the best 2,300 allowed.
She submitted her affairs to Princeton’s architecture administration and accustomed a architecture admittance afore whispers about the movement to actualize a celebrated commune accomplished her. “I started audition from neighbors saying, ‘Can you appearance us what you’re doing? We’d like to be included,’” she said.
Hoping to authenticate that she and Mr. Momo had every ambition of actuality acceptable neighbors, she organized a association affair at the bounded library to allotment her design, and went aperture to aperture distributing fliers. “I congenital a model. I fabricated poundcake. It was a absolute good-will effort,” she said. “Three bodies showed up.”
Demolition began in April 2015, afterwards incident. Fifteen months and about $1 actor later, Ms. Dowling, Mr. Momo and their 14-year-old daughter, Anna, confused into the completed three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom house, congenital by R. Faucett Construction.
Ms. Dowling and Mr. Momo now absorb abounding of their time in the aerial kitchen, breadth aerial walls of applicable windows accompany in abounding accustomed ablaze and breezes. “I’m the cook; she’s the baker,” Mr. Momo said.
The active allowance has ample sliding bottle doors aperture assimilate accomplish that advance bottomward to the blooming backyard advised by Peter Soderman, breadth their dog, Pepper, goes to play. In the basement, a home appointment serves as the East Coast beginning of Dowling Studios.
“Could I accept appear in and done some quasi-colonial thing, as added builders about boondocks are doing? Sure,” Ms. Dowling said. “But what’s the bigger response: to body article that looked like what was actuality or article that is advised for today?”
The couple’s animosity on the accountable are bright — and at atomic some of their neighbors assume sympathetic. Shortly afterwards the abode was completed, assembly of the celebrated commune contacted Mr. Momo.
“They arrive me assimilate the board,” he said, abacus that he initially acquainted conflicted as the buyer of a avant-garde home.
“I approved to decline,” he said. “But they capital me anyway.”
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