Little Silver gets down and dirty Saturday with the opening of its community garden, located on Harrison Avenue behind the Parker Homestead on the approach to Sickle’s Market. With a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m., the borough joins neighboring towns of Fair Haven, Red Bank and Shrewsbury as a place with a centralized growing spot for its residents.
The 17th-century Parker Homestead in Little Silver is just one of the historic homes on the greater Green taking center stage this weekend. The T. Thomas Fortune House, below, is another. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
In a season when we’re all a bit more cognizant of old, dark houses, a birthday celebration designed to call attention to one of Red Bank’s most endangered historic structures — the T. Thomas Fortune House — kicks off a weekend that also offers some rare opportunities to step back in time.
The Parker Homestead, one of the oldest homes in America, will host an Open House on Sunday, October 26. The event is free to the public.
Between the hours of 1 to 4 pm, visitors will be able to enjoy tours of the 17th century home and grounds, learn more about ongoig restoration plans to the house and outlying structures, and meet local artist Mike Quon who recently completed a painting of the Homestead.
At 3 , Professor Richard Veit of Monmouth University will discuss his initial findings from a recent archeological dig on the site. The event will also offer light refreshments.
While we’re not suggesting that the loving restorations of Monmouth County’s historic places are watched over by benevolent spirits, Little Silver’s Parker Homestead has had its share of happy coincidences — witness the accidental uncovering of a Colonial five-foot high fireplace, big enough for several people to stand in — just as the hard work of cleanup and repair was really getting underway. Then there was the recent discovery of a cache of vintage wooden berry-picking baskets, just as preparations were being made for a first-ever Community Blackberry Pick.
Local families were invited to “put down the smartphones and pick up some blackberries” during the first scheduled pick on July 19 — and on Saturday, July 26, up to 50 groups will be able to participate (on an earlybird-gets-the-berries basis), as a second session takes place between the hours of 8 am and 12 pm, with a rain date of Sunday, July 27.
“Celebrating Past, Present and Future” is the broad-reaching theme — and New Jersey’s 350th birthday year is the occasion — as the Thompson Park homebase of the Monmouth County Park System hosts a special opening reception in advance of Thursday’s 2014 NJ History and Historic Preservation Conference at Brookdale Community College.
On Wednesday evening, June 4, an assembly of historians, academics, civic dignitaries and preservation-minded members of the general public will convene inside the Thompson Hall administrative building at the county park on Newman Springs Road, for a 5:30 pm event that should be of interest to anyone who’s interested in the rescue and renovation of such historic sites as Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune House, and Little Silver’s Parker Homestead. A benefit for the nonprofit New Jersey History Advocates, the event boasts the participation of a uniquely Jersey voice — that of Star-Ledger ace reporter Mark DiIonno.
Monmouth County University professor Richard Veit and his archeology students will conduct a “tree-ringing” test on the Parker Homestead-1665 barns this Friday, to determine the age of the structures prior to restoration work.
Press release from Parker Homestead-1665 Inc.
Efforts to preserve one of New Jersey’s oldest homes – the Parker Homestead-1665 in Little Silver – have now extended to the three barns on the historic property, thanks to a generous grant from the Monmouth County Municipal Open Space Fund. The $250,000 grant from the county will help fund the restoration of three barns – a horse barn, a livestock barn and a wagon barn – representing the second phase of restoration efforts at the 1665 property.
The work will be performed by Nickles Contracting of Haddon Heights, which works specifically on restoration projects including some of the state’s most significant historic structures, including Drumthwacket, Absecon Lighthouse, Lucy the Elephant, and the Parsippany home of famed furniture designer Gustav Stickley, and closer to home, the Little Silver Train Station.
It’s a Count Basie Homecoming for JACQUIE LEE — seen here performing at a 2012 Rockit! concert in Red Bank — when the VOICE runner-up who wowed everyone from Jennifer Hudson to Lady Gaga returns as part of A SOULED-OUT CHRISTMAS on Saturday. Meanwhile, Ms. Lauryn Hill (below) has rescheduled her Sunday “Homecoming” show at the Basie to February 7, 2014.
Friday, December 20:
RED BANK: “Life can get pretty hectic and crazy the week before Christmas,” says Gerda Liebmann, the internationally exhibited multimedia artist who established Gallery 135 in the second-floor space shared by Red Bank Community Church. With that in mind, Liebmann comes to The Oyster Point Hotel for a special opening event that “gives everyone a chance to take a little step back from the madness, and enjoy some artwork that hopefully will induce a little serenity into their holiday season.”
The artist will be present for a Friday evening reception (6 to 8 pm) for a display of encaustic paintings — an ancient technique that uses beeswax, resin and pigments melted together — that includes a set of banners based on the Christmas narrative, and abstract paintings (on wood and paper) that include tea and tea leaves. The paintings remain on display at the Bodman Place hotel through the end of December, and are available for purchase as a unique Christmas gift — call Gerda at (732)687-3580 for more info.
RED BANK: One week after celebrating the feast days of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a procession that brought hundreds of marchers out on a frosty Red Bank evening, the Music Ministry at St Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church takes it indoors — with a special Christmas concert presented in association with the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library. The 8 pm event, a performance of Handel’s Messiah and traditional Christmas carols, spotlights the Trenton Diocesan Festival Choir and Orchestra under the direction of Shawn T. Mack — with soloists Lauren Walters (soprano), Jody Doktor (mezzo soprano), Justin Gonzalez (tenor), and Wilbur Lewis (bass). Call (732)747-0813 ext. 10 to reserve tickets ($20.00 adults; $10.00 students). Church doors open at 7 pm as part of a silent auction and raffle of gift baskets, to benefit the Friends of the RBPL and their work on behalf of the Library.
By KAREN J. IRVINE, Press contact for Parker Homestead
And now the Parker Homestead — with its simple, lovely farmhouse that has stood in a quiet corner of Little Silver since 1665 — is being rewarded for its centuries of perseverance with badly needed restoration.
With seed money from grants provided by Monmouth County, a dedicated band of Little Silver residents has overseen the stabilization of the white farmhouse — one of the oldest structures in New Jersey, and one of the oldest in the United States to be continually occupied by a single family for eight generations — are now forming a 501c(3) not-for-profit corporation to begin raising funds for the ultimate complete restoration of the home and out buildings.
The interior restoration began in early October, and has already uncovered two long-neglected features of the house — a circa 1721 bricked-over fireplace, and large wooden ceiling beams that support the gorgeous wide board floors of the second story.
Five months after securing state Register of Historic Places status, Little Silver’s 347-year-old Parker Homestead has been added to that list’s national counterpart, the Asbury Park Press reports Thursday.
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
The decade or so of renovating at the Parker Homestead is nothing when measured against how long it’s been there about 340 years. But virtual dormancy has kept it from living up to its potential as one of Little Silver’s most accessible windows on the past.
Not for much longer.
On Thursday, consultants and historians are scheduled to give a presentation on the work that’s been done on the borough’s oldest home, and how future work will bring the homestead into a new age as a museum and educational center.
The public is invited to not only hear what’s happened at the property, but also give input.