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RED BANK: THIRD NOVEL FOR BARTENDER

brandon zenner 052114the after war coverWhen he’s not pulling pints for the clientele of Red Bank’s Dublin House Pub, bartender Brandon Zenner (seen here in 2014) puts in long hours at his laptop, conjuring fictional worlds. His third novel in little more than two years, titled “The After War,” debuts this week. It’s a post-apocalyptic story based on an idea Zenner had almost two decades ago, when he was a 16-year-old student at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, and it’s available as an e-book here. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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.

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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

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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.

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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)

 

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.

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RED BANK: BARTENDER/AUTHOR GOES FOR TWO

brandon zenner 052114whiskey devilsRed Bank bartender-turned-self-published novelist Brandon Zenner, seen here in 2014, is  in the running for a contract with Kindle Scout, an Amazon program in which readers vote on which works get published. An excerpt of the Dublin House barkeep’s second novel, “Whiskey Devils,” may be previewed and voted upon here. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: STATE BIDS FOR FORTUNE HOUSE

rb fortune house 100614 1The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune has been vacant for many years. Below, an undated photo of Fortune, who owned it from 1901 to 1911.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

T. Thomas FortuneThe state of New Jersey has thrown its support behind efforts to save a historic Red Bank structure by offering to acquire it, redbankgreen has learned.

Two members of the borough Historic Preservation Committee said the state Department of Environmental Protection, though its Green Acres program, has made a purchase offer to the owners of the crumbling T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard.

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RED BANK: NYTIMES NOTES FORTUNE EFFORT

rb fortune house 2 061213Timothy_Thomas_FortuneSunday’s edition of the New York Times includes an article on the divergent fates of two historic New Jersey homes, one of them the Red Bank abode of early 20th-century civil rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune.

Fortune’s house, on Dr. James Parker Boulevard, is the subject of an effort by the nonprofit T. Thomas Fortune Project to save it from demolition and turn it into a cultural center. At right, an undated photo of Fortune.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

 

FAIR HAVEN: ASBURY LEGENDS, GOOD AND BAD

chesek o'rourke 1Authors Tom Chesek and John O’Rourke at River Road Books Thursday. (Click to enlarge)

chesek o'rourke 2A busy summer of author appearances at River Road Books in Fair Haven continues with a Thursday program entitled Heroes and Villains of Asbury Park.

The 7 p.m. event at Monmouth County’s only remaining independent bookstore brings together two Jersey-bred authors for a discussion of some truly unforgettable characters who made their mark – whether good, bad or bloody – upon that famous place Where the City Meets the Sea.

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RED BANK: $100K PLEDGE FOR FORTUNE HOUSE

rb fortune house 2 061213A volunteer group hopes to acquire the onetime home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune for use as a cultural center. Below, an undated photo of Fortune.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Timothy_Thomas_FortuneA slow-building effort launched eight years ago to save a historic Red Bank structure from the wrecking ball has gotten a jolt of adrenaline.

A donor has pledged $100,000 to the effort to acquire and revitalize the onetime home of pioneering African-American journalist T. Thomas Fortune, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: AUTHOR EMERGES FROM THE CELLAR

brandon zenner 2 052114Brandon Zenner at his basement writing table. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

For 11 sunlight-deprived years, he’s slung drinks and traded banter with customers at the Dublin House in Red Bank. And for a good chunk of that time, he’s spent his free time in a dim, prosaic Red Bank basement, typing away at a windowless desk near a clothes dryer.

But until earlier this year, when he self-published a 294-page novel titled “The Experiment of Dreams,” Brandon Zenner kept his literary ambitions to himself.

“I never told anybody I was a writer,” Zenner told redbankgreen recently. For one thing, “sports is big in a bar. Writing is not,” he said.

Besides, “it’s just easier not to have to talk about it” and instead just do it, he said.

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RFH: NOT A BAD OUTCOME FOR AN APOCALYPSE

Katie Coyle, whose novel, ‘Vivian Versus the Apocalypse,’   (Click to enlarge)

By MARY ANN KAMPFE

RFHRHS Public Relations

vivian versus the apocalypse“Someday I’ll read a book by Katie Coyle” reads the inscription in a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School yearbook.

“It was written by my Advanced Placement (AP) English Teacher Jack Shea when I was about to graduate in 2004,” said Ms. Coyle. “I held Mr. Shea in high regard, and that comment really meant a lot to me.”

As it turns out, Mr. Shea was right. And “someday” came about very quickly.

Ms. Coyle’s first book, “Vivian Versus the Apocalypse,” will be published on September 5 by Hot Key Books. The book and its 25-year-old author have already earned high praise from the literary world.

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FAIR HAVEN MAN TURNS FEARS INTO STORIES

Drazin with young fans at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library earlier this month. (Photo by Alexis Orlacchio. Click to enlarge)

By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO

Justin Drazin did not originally plan to add the title “children’s author” to his résumé, but what started out as a short piece to show family and friends has evolved into a trilogy of whimsical tales. And along the way, the Fair Haven-raised environmental policy student  turned one of his childhood fears into a captivating bedtime story for kids.

Drazin, 24, recalls being terrified of the dark when he was younger.  “I had a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of going back and forth to my parents’ room,” he said, removing his brown thick-framed glasses during a recent interview.  “It’s an age-long fear. Everyone goes through it at some point.”

Written from the point of view of a little boy afraid of the dark, “Albert and the Amazing Pillow Monsters” is the first installment of the dreamland-centered series.

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AUTHOR OPENS SERIES WITH HARD TRUTHS

By DAN NATALE

What does it take to become a published author of fiction? Will power, says Aryn Kyle, author of the national best-selling young-adult novel The God of Animals.

Kyle served up sometimes harsh truths on what it takes when she appeared at Brookdale Community College last Wednesday as the first author in this year’s visiting writer series.

“The amount of time where writing is fun is a small percentage,” she told an audience of more than 100 students, faculty members, fans, and aspiring writers. “It’s fun to start something. It’s awesome to finish something. The middle is hard.”

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RESTAURATEUR ADDS ‘AUTHOR’ TO RÉSUMÉ

Victor Rallo drains a bottle of vino into a guest’s glass at his book-signing party last Thursday night. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

By STACIE FANELLI

Victor Rallo stands on a chair dangerously close to a table stocked with dozens of fragile wine bottles. He’s changing a lightbulb while employees circle him laughing.

“He’s definitely a jack of all trades,” says his cousin, Bryant Rallo, general manager of Basil T’s Brewery and Italian Grill on Riverside Avenue in Red Bank.

“Yeah, and parle Italiano perfecto,” Victor Rallo jokes.

The owner of Basil T’s and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, Rallo travels to Italy up to eight times a year, surfs in Puerto Rico, skis in the west, enjoys what he calls “absent-minded photography,” and now, has written his first book.

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