77° Clear

RED BANK: BASIE TO STAY BASIE FOR CENTURY

basie awards 051816 1Originally called the Carlton Theater, the Count Basie Theatre will get to keep the Count’s name for at least another century. Below, a bust of the late jazz great outside the Red Bank train station. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Correction: the original version of this post misreported the year of Count Basie’s birth, which was 1904.]

By JOHN T. WARD

basie-bust2The Basie will get to be the Basie for at least another hundred years.

In conjunction with the anniversary of the birth, in Red Bank, of jazz great William ‘Count’ Basie, the town’s premiere entertainment venue has inked a deal with the trust that controls his estate to enable it to call itself the Count Basie Theatre for 50 more years, with five 10-year extensions, the two entities announced Monday.

Read More »

RBR FRESHMEN DISCUSS HISTORY, HARMONY

Gilda Rogers Sid Bernstein SummerSlamLeft to right: Citizens for a Diverse and Open Society founders Gilda Rogers and Sid Bernstein were joined by performing artist and writer Lorraine Stone as special guests of the Summer Slam program at Red Bank Regional High School. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

During the height of summer, the Red Bank Regional High School building is a busy place, with a myriad of educational programming designed to better prepare its students for September. As the largest of those activities, Summer Slam saw 110 students attending a four-week session (operated by school-based youth services program The SOURCE) which infuses academic topics (Math, English, Science, Global Studies) with special events like an athletic team-building challenge coordinated by The Community YMCA, as well as visits from influential community members.

This summer’s two-time guest speaker was educator, author and community activist Gilda Rogers of Red Bank, who during her first visit introduced the students to the ongoing project to renovate the historic T. Thomas Fortune House. She returned the next day to discuss ways students could combat racism; accompanying Gilda for that second meeting was Sid Bernstein of Lincroft, a retired businessman with whom she co-founded the group Citizens for a Diverse and Open Society (CDOS).

Read More »

RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE’S GOOD FORTUNE

mumford fortune 072716 1Developer Roger Mumford leads high school journalism students on a tour of the Fortune House. Below, Mumford with preservationist Gilda Rogers. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

gilda rogers roger mumford 072716

Less than a week after the Red Bank zoning board approved a plan to save it, the still-crumbling T. Thomas Fortune House offered a preview Wednesday of its anticipated role: as a cultural and educational center.

About a dozen high school students from around New Jersey took an exterior tour of the onetime home of pioneering civil rights journalist, who lived in it for a decade starting in 1901 and entertained the leading lights of black culture there. In the process, they also got a lesson in how the interests of preservationists and profit-minded developers might converge.

Read More »

RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE RESCUE PLAN OK’D

ROGER MUMFORD 072116 1Developer Roger Mumford with an architect’s rendering of the T. Thomas Fortune house as it would appear after restoration. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03

A decade-long effort to save an endangered artifact of African-American history cleared a major milestone Thursday night when the Red Bank zoning board approved a developer’s plan to rebuild the T. Thomas Fortune house and create 31 apartments on its one-acre property.

Borough-based homebuilder Roger Mumford, who vowed to restore and donate the house for use as a cultural center before he would seek certificates of occupancy for the apartments, was hailed as the last-chance savior of a vital relic of the civil rights movement that its current owners want to raze. Residents told the board before its vote that Mumford deserved the tradeoff of more than a dozen variances, most of them arising from the apartment plan.

“If a development project has ever given back to the community, it’s this one,” said Kalman Pipo, a member of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission. “If this project doesn’t go through, we are going to lose this house” to the wrecking ball, he said.

Read More »

LITTLE SILVER: BENEVEDIS HOUSE RAZED

ls benevidis 071916 2benevedis 070915 2As part of a plan to create more parking at Sickles Park in Little Silver, the borough-owned Benevedis house at the park’s entrance on Rumson Road was demolished this week.

Unlike the National Historic Landmark Parker Homestead next door, the 113-year old house was not considered historically significant, and became unusable after a radiator burst during a cold snap in February 2015, causing water damage throughout, official have said.

As reported by redbankgreena cache of rare old baseball cards was salvaged from the home among other items associated with the Parker farm, which dates to the early 1665(Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE PLAN SCHEDULED

rb fortune house 100614 3Fortune future 062816Developer Roger Mumford‘s plan to save the dilapidated T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard in Red Bank faces its first test this week.

The proposal, which is backed by a volunteer group hoping to preserve the pioneering civil rights journalist’s home, calls for restoring the National Historic Register structure for use as a cultural center devoted to preserving African American history and serving as a resource for social justice initiatives. The plan, dubbed “Fortune Square,” also includes a 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property. Multiple variances are required.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Here’s the agenda: RBZB agenda 072116 (Click to enlarge)

 

FAIR HAVEN: LAIRD’S GETTING SQUEEZED OUT

budnicks brounley 071116Bob and Rose Budnick outside their store with longtime customer Katherine Brounley. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallTucked into the corner of a Fair Haven strip mall, marked with minimal signage, Laird’s Stationery is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. But locals know it, and know it as a jam-packed emporium of not only paper goods and office supplies, but everything from backpacks to wiffle bats.

“The register never stops ringing,” owner Bob Budnick said early this week, as three customers converged at the front desk to pay for their purchases. “This store is woven into the fabric of a lot of people’s lives.”

But the register is about to stop ringing, here at least, and the business may be doomed, said Budnick and his wife.

Read More »

RED BANK: GILDA IN THE HERE AND NOW

Gilda Rogers BCCGilda Rogers is the guest for the latest in a series of Author Talk events, Wednesday at the Red Bank Library — followed on July 18 by a special presentation at Project Write Now on Bridge Avenue.

Red Bank regulars know her from many different settings, and wearing many figurative hats — from faculty member at Red Bank Regional and coordinator of special community outreach initiatives for Two River Theater, to local talk show host, and onetime proprietor of Frank Talk Art Bistro, a much-missed Shrewsbury Avenue storefront that was as delightfully difficult to summarize as the woman who put her stamp on it.

Writer, activist and producer Gilda Rogers remains very visible around Red Bank in the coming days, beginning with an appearance at the Red Bank Public Library on Wednesday, July 13. Scheduled for 7 p.m., it’s the latest event in the library’s monthly Author Talk series; a session that finds the author of “Arrested Development: The State of Black Achievement and Education in Hip Hop America” discussing her debut as a dramatist, with a work entitled “Supernatural: The Play.”

Read More »

SHREWSBURY: VOICES OF INDEPENDENCE

shrews independence 070416 12shrews independence 070416 11Shrewsbury residents and other visitors to the historic Allen House, a circa-1710 tavern at Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue, took turns reading passages from the Declaration of Independence during an Independence Day event that drew several hundred onlookers Monday. Volunteers in Colonial-era clothing added to an air of another time, even if one or two did whip out their cellphones.

We’ve got more photos after the “read more,” below.

An 1880 reprint of the declaration that was on display for the event will now be on permanent display at either the Eastern Branch Library on Route 35 in Shrewsbury, or the county’s Headquarters Library at 125 Symmes Drive in Manalapan. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Read More »

RED BANK: BUILDER EYES FORTUNE HOUSE SITE

Fortune future 062816The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune would be restored for use as a cultural center, as shown in the architectural rendering above. Below, four views of the four-story, 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

fortune square apartments 062816After years of efforts by volunteer historians to halt decades of decay, an historic Red Bank residence may be spared the wrecking ball.

Developer Roger Mumford has proposed restoring what he calls the “highly deteriorated” T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard and turning it into a cultural center.

Mumford’s plan comes with a catch: he wants the town to grant him a host of variances to construct 32 apartments on the site — more than twice the density allowed by zoning law. But he’s billing it as a win for all involved.

Read More »

SHREWSBURY: A VERY SPECIAL JULY 4 EVENT

Press release from Monmouth County Historical Association

allenhouseThe first formal showing of an 1880 reprint of the Declaration of Independence will be on display at The Monmouth County Historical Association’s Allen House, during the reading of the Declaration on Monday, July 4 at 10 a.m.

The Monmouth County Library Commission, chaired by Renee Swartz, has partnered with the Historical Association the Shrewsbury Boy Scout Troop, Christ Church, and Mayor Donald Barden in presenting a Fourth of July celebration at Shrewsbury’s  “Four Corners,” the Historic District of buildings at the intersection of Broad Street (Route 35) and Sycamore Avenue. The special observance celebrates the 240th anniversary of the signing the Declaration at Philadelphia.

Swartz said County Library Director Judi Tolchin will bring the unique document to the Allen House prior to the reading of the Declaration, hosted by the Historical Association. The document will be on display outside, weather permitting, near the entrance to the Allen House at 400 Sycamore Avenue.

Read More »

LITTLE SILVER: OLD-STYLE BASEBALL RETURNS

Monmouth Furnace Base BallIt’s a contest of old-school sporting skills when the Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club meets the Chesapeake Nine in a Sunday afternoon game at Sickles Field.

Forget the recent rulebook revisions governing base-running during double play situations. Send the DH to the bench; leave the protective helmets in the equipment locker — and if you’re pitching today, be prepared to hurl a complete game, or even work every game on the team’s schedule.

When the Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club takes to the diamond at Little Silver’s Sickles Field this Sunday, the team will be playing by a somewhat different set of rules than the ones that currently apply to professional-league competition.

Read More »