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RED BANK: HOW TO RAISE A FORTUNE

rb-fortune-house-3-061213-7156799The onetime home of journalist T. Thomas Fortune is a National Historic Landmark.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee is reminding all Red Bank area residents that on Friday June 12, the nonprofit organization will host a gala fundraiser at the Marion Huber room at Two River Theater.

Presented from 6 to 10 pm under the theme Finding Fortune: Preserving a National Historic Landmark, the event is the latest in a series of benefits geared toward the ongoing effort to rescue and preserve one of the borough’s genuine historic treasures.

The evening starts with a cocktail hour that includes hors d’oeuvres served by Readie’s of Red Bank and features live jazz by violinist Jeffrey Boga and bassist Connor Healy. Highlights will include a presentation of a donation from the Red Bank Middle School; a brief history of the Fortune Family; a progress report update from the Committee, and a tribute to Dr. Fred Fortune (son of T. Thomas Fortune) by Dr. Brian Roper. Featured guest speaker will be Claire Serant, a Professor of English at York College (CUNY).

“T. Thomas Fortune represents the best of African-American journalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, said Serant, a noted scholar whose published work on Fortune has appeared in the Star-Ledger as well as several esteemed academic journals, along with the Star Ledger newspaper. “His three national weekly newspapers ran hard-hitting articles on issues that impacted the black community locally and globally, which was groundbreaking at that time.”

Located at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard, the T. Thomas Fortune House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, by the National Parks Service. It is a Second Empire style home dating back to the 19th century, and is only one of two National Historic Landmarks devoted to African American culture and heritage in the state.

While the Vaccarelli Family has owned the home for close to 100 years, it is interested in selling the property and is considering the T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee, in conjunction with the New Jersey Green Acres program, as a viable buyer for the site. The Committee would like to see the home preserved and restored as a vibrant cultural center, with a focus on the social justice platform that Fortune stood on. It is envisioned as a destination that tells the story of Fortune and the Vaccarelli Family, along with such notable Red Bank residents as Count Basie and the Drs. James Parker.

All proceeds will go toward the preservation effort. An “Easels of Information” exhibit on the Fortune family will be displayed at the event, and books by and about T. Thomas Fortune will be available for purchase at a cost of $50 each. Tickets ($75) are available at the door, with attendees asked to please use the Bridge Avenue entrance of Two River Theater. There is a limited amount of free on-site parking, but additional parking is available along the side of the Two River Theater building on Bridge Avenue and around the corner along Monmouth Street, as well as a block away at the Red Bank Train Station There is a Free Parking garage on West Front Street. Next door to PAZZO restaurant; with entrances on West Front Street and Wall Street.

Additional information on the fundraiser event and the Fortune House Project is available by emailing [email protected]. Online donations can also be made via the group’s Rally Page, and checks can be written to Red Bank Men’s Club Foundation (with Thomas Fortune Project in the memo). Mail to Thomas Fortune Project,  c/o Red Bank Men’s Club Foundation, PO Box 2007, Westside Station, Red Bank, NJ 07701.

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