Only 12 men have ever walked on the moon – and one of them grew up in Montclair, N.J.
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But neighbor Ilmar Vanderer, an architect, is trying to win support for a plan to convert the seven-bedroom house into a museum honoring Aldrin, who lived there from birth until he left Montclair to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
An angel investor who shares Vanderer’s enthusiasm for the idea would be great to find, he said.
“It seems like every single astronaut of that era has a namesake museum except Buzz Aldrin,” Vanderer told NorthJersey.com. “At this point it seems so painfully conspicuous.”
When Aldrin, who now lives in California, returned to his hometown for a visit in 2015, he noted on Twitter that he used to walk out onto the roof of the house and gaze up at the stars.
“Was I crazy?” he asked at the time, posting a photo of himself across the street from the home.
Vanderer claims that Aldrin and his partner, Anca Faur, have expressed similar hopes that a museum can be opened.
But Township Council member Robin Schlager told NorthJersey.com that potential disruptions to the neighborhood, including parking concerns, would need to be addressed.
Still, Schlager told the outlet, “When you think of our hometown heroes, Buzz Aldrin is at the top of the list. He’s a national icon. This is a rare opportunity to have this historic house preserved and be a tribute not only for Montclair but for our state and our country.”
Vanderer told NJ.com the house is in good condition and would likely need only a few upgrades to be converted into a museum. He estimates that annual operating costs would total about $290,000.
Aldrin, who will turn 91 on Jan. 20, was the second man to step foot on the lunar surface, just after his Apollo 11 commander, astronaut Neil Armstrong, who took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” on July 20, 1969. (Armstrong died in 2012 at age 82.)
In all, 12 astronauts walked on the moon, the last two being Gene Ceman and Harrison Schmitt, members of Apollo 17 who accomplished the feat in December 1972.
Humans haven’t returned to the moon since.