By JOHN T. WARD
A series of note cards by Red Bank artist Terry McCue honors the borough’s history by preserving, in pen-and-ink, some of its most noteworthy buildings.
And the proceeds from the sale of the cards go to support an institution that occupies one of those structures: the Red Bank Public Library, which makes its home in the former Sigmund Eisner mansion on West Front Street.
McCue’s drawings, done over several decades, were the product of a twist in a long career in the graphic arts that took many, she tells redbankgreen.
Now 89 years old, she’s been a sketcher of window displays for New York department stores; a draftsman at Fort Monmouth; a creator of ads for the now-gone Vogel’s department store in Long Branch; and a designer of sheets and towels not to mention a mother of six, grandmother of 11, and wife to her husband, Martin, a former Red Bank borough clerk and volunteer firefighter.
The 40-plus-year resident of Pinckney Road says the series of drawings came about after she made a drawing of the house next door as a gift when the owner moved away. Displayed in the recipient’s new home in Rumson, it was spotted by Realtor Gloria Nilson, who hired McCue to execute illustrations of homes for clients.
“The agents would give them as gifts to buyers,” McCue says.
That set her on the path of house illustrations. When she had time, she started doing drawings of old Red Bank buildings that caught her eye. Working from photos she’d take from several angles, “with close-ups of the details.”
Among the buildings committed to paper: the former Anthony Reckless Estate, now the Woman’s Club of Red Bank; the train station; the Dublin House; and the John Stout House, now the office of Red Bank Family EyeCare on East Front Street.
“I like the old buildings,” McCue says. “They’re there, they’re settled. They look like they ought to be there.”
Some of the homes McCue had hoped to get to were torn down before she could draw them, including the Rullman House, built in 1805, which the borough demolished in 1999 to create Riverside Gardens Park, and the Thomas Morford House, destroyed by the developer of what’s now a bank across the street from library.
Still, “eventually, I had a collection” of about a dozen, McCue says. The library once mounted a show of the drawings, but they sat gathering dust in a closet at her home until recently, when she pulled them out and donated them to the library. She signed over the copyrights, allowing the library to use them as it wishes.
“They’re just beautiful drawings of architecturally significant buildings,” said library director Mary Faith Chmiel. “They make great little gifts for people who used to live in town.”
Bundles of six note cards and envelopes are available at the library, with a suggested donation of $10.