Walter and Katherine Selvage

A Town starts to grow

Shortly after the Township broke away from Englewood and incorporated in 1895, land started to be sold to contractors. One of the first to come was Walter Selvage, a real estate developer and from Brooklym.

Prior to moving to Teaneck, the township saw 20 new homes erected in the 1890’s. Between 1900 and 1909, developers like Selvage added 256 new homes, increasing the population from 768 in 1900 to 2,082 in 1910.

Selvage bought the Henry Brinkerhoff farm of seventy acres on Teaneck Road north of Cedar Lane.

The “Selvage addition” as it came to be known had a business office on East Forest Avenue making concrete blocks, which many homes in the area sit on to this day.  Walter Selvage let his wife name many of the streets in the area he developed. She picked names for her close-knit family and friends, bringing Stasia and Anna Streets (named for her mother and sister), Katherine Street (after herself), as well as Margaret, Alicia and Julia Streets for her friends.

An Ancillary Benefit of Development

Development didn’t merely help to create housing for residents.  It helped add to the social fabric, create houses of worship, hospitals and shape the Town in which we live.

Walter Selvage’s wife, Katherine Kelly Selvage was a devout Irish woman.   Her mom Mrs. Anastasia Kelly was a woman of means and moved to Teaneck in its early days to be with her children.

According to “Teaneck: Forty Years of Progress”: “The zeal for God’s glory and the sanctification of souls, which characterized [Mrs. Kelly’s] whole life, urged her to devote a goodly share of her worldly fortune to the erection of a church.”

Feeling the need for a house of worship, for like minded Catholics, she requested that Walter donate the land and she gave generously to the building of the present church and school, at Teaneck Road and Robinson Avenue (as well as Holy Name Hospital).

St. Anastasia’s Church

It was dedicated on August 2, 1908.  This was Teaneck’s second church (the Presbyterian Church was built two years earlier in 1906).

In the “Oral History of Teaneck” (link here), neighbor Richard Verlini mentioned the donation:

“Mrs. Manze, my sister, lived across from the Catholic Church. I remember Mrs. Anastasia Kelly. Mrs. Selvage, her daughter, gave a big piece of property to the church. It was where Rte. 4 is. I think the state gave them $40,000 or $45,000 for it when they built the highway.”

A plaque dedicated to Mrs. Selvage hangs in the church in remembrance of its benefactor.