Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.


Our community pillars help us carry out our 100-Year Vision

Check it out

Health and Wellness

Red Bank YMCA

At the heart of the Red Bank community since 1874, our Red Bank Family YMCA is here to support health and well-being for all. We’re a special place where people of all ages, interests and backgrounds gather to grow in spirit, mind and body.

Learn More
organization-banner
organization-banner

HISTORIC MIDDLETOWN HOUSE UP FOR SALE

nathaniel-smith-houseBuilt in Massachusetts in the early 1700s and relocated to Middletown in 1962, the former Nathaniel Smith House features exposed-rafter ceilings, as in the library, below. (Click to enlarge)

library

It took historic preservationist Mary Lou Strong more than a week to get back to redbankgreen after we called recently to inquire about her Middletown home going on the market.

She apologized for the delay, and said she simply wanted to be sure she could talk about it without crying.

It’s not just that the house – located on a tongue-tip of land bound by Navesink River Road and the anchorage to the Oceanic Bridge – is where Strong and her husband, George, raised three kids. Or that it’s filled with cherished antiques collected over a lifetime.

It’s that the house, built in Massachusetts before the United States was born, is itself the manifestation of the couple’s shared values when it comes to keeping history alive. And who knows if the next owner will want to bulldoze it into oblivion?

stairwellThe home’s “good morning” stairwell. Below, George and Mary Lou Strong. (Click to enlarge)

stongs2 The house was started by carpenter Nathaniel Smith in Hopkinton, Massachusetts beginning in the early 1700s, and possibly before then, anchored by a giant walk-in hearth that would eventually become the centerpiece of a larger domicile comprised of four identical sections, as was the custom at the time.

What’s now the kitchen was later added as a toll house for the road on which the house sat.

Disassembled in the 1930s, the chalk-numbered components of Smith’s house were stored in a former Civil War blanket factory when the Strongs learned about it in 1962. George Strong’s job as an investment banker had taken him from Boston to New York, and he and Mary Lou had bought the vacant parcel overlooking the Navesink. Though they’d just had an architect design a house for the property, they scrapped those plans, bought the Smith house for $15,000 and had the pile of lumber trucked down to the Jersey Shore.

Then, confronted with the task of re-assembling the pieces, Mary Lou tracked down a woodworker-turned-hermit who had taken the house apart three decades earlier and enlisted him to help put it back together – while at the same bolstering it to contemporary building codes.

Many of the chalk markings on the lumber had disappeared, though, “so some of it was build-by-numbers, and some of it was build-by-jigsaw-puzzle,” said George.

The result was a grand house with cedar roof shakes that, on the sunny side of the house, have never had to be replaced, and rooms whose recessed-panel walls once showcased Smith’s wordwooking talents to prospective clients. A “good morning” stairwell, so named for the convergence of two sets of steps from the attic, is “my favorite feature of the house, with all it’s wonderful turnings,” said Mary Lou.

Now, the Strongs are in their 80s, the house is too much for them, and their children live out of state. So the couple is preparing to move to the Atrium at Navesink Harbor senior citizens building in Red Bank into an apartment with a new vista down their beloved river.

“It’s something we’ve lived with,” Mary Lou said of the eastward view from the house. “It’s different ever hour of the day. You could sit here all day and never tire of it.”

A listing for the Strong’s house puts the asking price at $1.2 million.

A past president of the Monmouth County Historical Association, Mary Lou Strong was vocal about preserving the Tredwell House Rumson, which was destroyed by fire in June, 2006. As a board member at Preservation New Jersey, she was instrumental in getting Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune House onto the organizations 2007 list of the state’s ten most-endangered historical sites. “I’m terribly concerned” about the fate of the Fortune house, she said.

But as to her own house, Stong says, “I just think somebody is going to come along who sees the warmth and character of the house and is going to take care of it.”

“We just have to find them,” George adds, noting that while the house is in a historic district and is considered historic itself, it’s not indigenous, “and so you could argue that it’s not historically significant.”

The Strongs are preparing to auction off many of the home’s numerous antiques, which include Nathaniel Smith’s will, which now hangs in a bathroom. No date for the sale has been set.

After leading a reporter on a tour of the house, Strong stopped in a doorway to the dining room, noted the similarities between  the pilasters on a corner cupboard and those on the front door frame, and then settled in to a long moment of silence as she appeared to take in the room so that it might never be forgotten.

“It’s a nice room for parties,” she said softly.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank business owner happier than to hear "I saw your ad on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
HOME DELIVERY
RED BANK: After a subdivision, an instant house rises on a new Catherine Street lot.
COMMUNITY PROFILES
For Black History Month, Red Bank's Community Engagement and Equity Advisory Committee has been running a series of local profiles on Facebo ...
HEARTY FAREWELL FOR HARDY
RED BANK: Council to honor DPU supervisor Rich Hardy, who retired recently after almost 39 years of keeping things running.
HOMEBOUND? READ ON…
RED BANK: Can't get to the public library? It's now offering free delivery and pickups for homebound borough residents.
TAMING A BEAST OF A WEEK
RED BANK: After the second snowfall of the week, a borough family finds the perfect use for it – a Godzilla snow sculpture.
RED BANK: LIBRARY CLOSED, BUT THE HILL’S OPEN
RED BANK: Though the library was closed by a snowstorm, kids got to enjoy the riverfront property's steep slope Tuesday.
LIGHT(HOUSE) MAKEOVER
This year, getting ready for spring means a midwinter makeover for Strollo's Lighthouse in Red Bank.
TODAY: LOCAL PUPPY COMPETES ON ANIMAL PLANET’S “PUPPY BOWL”
Red Bank’s very own rescue puppy, Biscuit, is set to compete in Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl this Sunday, February 11, at 2 PM. Th ...
WHAT? NO redbankgreen NEWSLETTER?
Apologies to redbankgreen newsletter subscribers: the daily email hasn’t gone out for two days because of technical issues.
RED BANK: TIRED OF SKEETERS?
RED BANK: Tired of mosquito bites every summer? Monmouth County has a free program to help eliminate skeeter breeding grounds.
SEA BRIGHT: POLAR PLUNGE FOR ST. JAMES, OTHERS
Hundreds braved the wind and sea on Sunday at 1PM in support of St. James Elementary School, and other Catholic schools in the area. The eve ...
RED BANK: RBR CLAIMS TITLE
RED BANK: Watch pure joy as the RBR boys basketball team celebrates its first B North championship in 17 years.
RED BANK: FORGET-IT FRIDAY
RED BANK: Train Station can be a lonely place Friday mornings, especially with cold rain in the forecast.
RED BANK: CROONING YOUR LOVE
RED BANK: Imagine a quartet of impeccably dressed gentlemen showing up at your beloved's workplace, singing of your love.
RED BANK: BLACK RIVER ROLLS ON
RED BANK: A 68-year-old rail freight engine can still be counted on to draw a trainspotting fan or two when it rolls through town.
RED BANK: ‘MONDAY SWEAT’ MEETS
RED BANK: Joined by the Hazlet Running Club, members of the Red Bank Run Club met for their "Monday Sweat" at Count Basie Field.
RED BANK: CARD SALE BOOSTS GYM DRIVE
RED BANK: Charter School Foundation offers student-deisgned Valentines cards to help raise funds for a gymnasium.
RED BANK: LOVE IS IN THE… WINDOW
RED BANK: Up next: Valentine's Day, and Partyline finds the Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe getting ready for a surge of love and craving.
CLOSING THE BOOK ON A GREAT CAREER
The Red Bank mayor and council honored with a resolution Linda Hewitt (in red) on her retirement from the Red Bank Public Library at Thursda ...
RED BANK: RAIL COMMUTER’S VIEW
A commuter's view of the Route 35 Cooper's Bridge over the Navesink River, as seen from North Jersey Coast Line train 3320 out of Red Bank F ...