Diane Haviland ’87 and Ken Greene wanted a dream home for their golden years. So they purchased a wooded lot in New Jersey and then moved to downtown Easton while the property was being readied for construction.
But after two years of residing at Grand Eastonian Hotel, the married couple met with the unexpected.
They didn’t want to leave Easton.
They’d fallen in love. From new restaurants like Ocean and Maxim’s 22, tantalizing smells wafted. They’d made close friends with neighbors, such as the owners of Quadrant Book Store. Big festivals happened in their backyard along with quiet moments of beauty, like when the evening sun catches on the supports of the Northampton Street Bridge just so.
After scrapping plans for a New Jersey move, the couple searched for a house in Easton. When they couldn’t find one to their liking, they landed on an unorthodox choice—an office building in the city.
In 2012, they bought the Lenny’s Men’s Wear building, a three-story palazzo with yawning windows at 44 Centre Square, and spent a couple years converting it to a mammoth estate-style home with polished hardwood floors and sparkling tile. In the heart of downtown, the office building was one of the shuttered local businesses city officials had been working to resuscitate. Now it had become a residence.
Easton—a city once shunned by tourists and snubbed by the College—had so enchanted the couple that they made it their home, and in doing so became part of the renaissance that had wooed them to stay.
Haviland, 67, who grew up in the area, was no stranger to Easton’s bygone charms. “I remember Easton when it was vibrant and bustling,” she says. When she was a young girl, big department stores like Pomeroy’s and Orr’s drew shoppers to the city by the busload.
But by the time she attended Lafayette as a government and law major, the city had fallen victim to urban decline.
“It was pretty bad,” she recalls.
“It wasn’t just Easton,” says her husband, Greene, who attended Lehigh. “Cities all over the country were facing the same kind of things.”
Still, since she’d known Easton in its heyday, Haviland was one of the few who dared to descend the steps of campus and wander through Centre Square. “I used to come downtown for Carmelcorn,” she says of the candy shop that has been hawking sugary treats since 1935.
It never occurred to her that one day she’d live in the men’s clothier across from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Today, much like the downtown itself, Haviland and Greene’s home is a mixture of old Easton charm—transoms still open above some doors, and much of the original woodwork remains—and new additions—a massive walk-in closet and a mammoth outdoor deck that affords views of Lafayette College.
With the addition of the Williams Arts Campus and the move in January of about 50 employees to leased space in the Alpha Building off Centre Square, the College is growing its presence in the city.
“I’m loving that Lafayette’s moving down,” she says. “Closing the gap.”