Search Results for: thomas fortune house
Dozens of supporters gathered on the front lawn for the opening of the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. Below, a view of the ceremony from inside the restored house. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
More than a century after the departure of its most famous resident, the T. Thomas Fortune House in Red Bank reopened Thursday as a cultural center dedicated to his mission of advancing civil and human rights.
The restored T. Thomas Fortune House on Drs. James Parker Boulevard plans to formally open as a cultural center in May. Below, restoration supervisor Spencer Foxworth and foundation member Robin Blair examine a chandelier to be installed. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
An against-the-odds, decade-long effort to save a Red Bank house that was once the home of a pioneering civil rights journalist has reached its improbable conclusion, people involved in the effort say.
This weekend, local history lovers will get their first-ever chance to tour the T. Thomas Fortune House, a National Historic Register structure that not long ago was about to be razed.
Restoration work on the T. Thomas Fortune house is underway in conjunction with the construction of 31 apartments behind it, where an elevator tower is visible. Below, builder Roger Mumford shows off an original decorative corbel removed from just below the roof line of the house, and, in his left hand, a replica made from mahogany. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
After a decade-long effort to save it from the wrecking ball, Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune house is in the midst of a restoration that has served up some additional history.
Part of the Second Empire-style mansion on Drs. James Parker Boulevard may be much older than previously believed, says developer Roger Mumford, who is racing to conserve what he can of the structure even as it crumbles before his eyes.
By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank real estate developer Roger Mumford is a busy man these days: restoring the National Historic Register T. Thomas Fortune house and adding 31 apartments to the Drs. James Parker Boulevard property; completing the 12-unit affordable housing project called Oakland Square at the corner of Oakland and West streets; and simultaneously vying for the right to redevelop what’s easily the hottest patch of asphalt in town — the borough-owned White Street parking lot.
Meantime, he’s got another project in the works, one slated to go before the zoning board for review Thursday night: a plan for townhouses on the footprint of old factory buildings just a stone’s throw from his West Side office.
Not so many months ago, the T. Thomas Fortune House in Red Bank was a place whose own fortunes were in doubt, prior to the announcement of a development deal (reported here in redbankgreen) that set the deteriorating structure on the path to a new life as a community resource “dedicated to human rights, journalistic integrity, (and) advancement for all people.”
The announcement was certainly a happy one for the volunteers of the T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee — and on Thursday, May 25, the nonprofit entity hosts “a festive night out to celebrate the rebirth, now underway, of the National Historic Landmark and support the opening of our soon to be T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center,” as well as the legacy of the pioneering 19th century African American journalist T. Thomas Fortune.
The Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury hosts an exhibit about Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune House, seen here during a student tour in July. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
Press release from T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee
The fourth annual T. Thomas Fortune Birthday Celebration (a fundraiser hosted recently at the Oyster Point Hotel under the title “Fortune . . . Telling the Truth”) kicked off a string of events to highlight the restoration of the T. Thomas Fortune House, a National Historic Landmark, into the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center.
While the community-forum series that she’s moderated at Red Bank Public Library just observed its one-year anniversary, Gilda Rogers is scarcely the first Red Banker to issue the invitation “Let’s Talk About Race.” That distinction may go to T. Thomas Fortune (1856-1928), the onetime slave turned pioneer black editor-publisher and crusading journalist — and this Wednesday evening, September 28, Fortune’s former home (on what’s now Drs. James Parker Boulevard) is the focus of a special discussion on the man named Fortune, and the ongoing efforts to recognize and represent his life’s work to the community.
Regular readers of redbankgreen‘s paperless pages have no doubt followed the story of the T. Thomas Fortune House, the National Historic Site that has fallen into a serious state of disrepair in recent years — along with a newly floated proposal to rehabilitate the deteriorating structure as a public-welcome community center, and centerpiece of a residential apartment development. During Wednesday’s 7 p.m. presentation in the library’s downstairs meeting room, attendees will be brought up to speed on the details of the plan, and how such a resource can best honor the legacy of the activist who was credited as “being the bridge to the modern day Civil Rights Movement.”
Regular readers of redbankgreen have been kept abreast of the campaign to rescue and restore the T. Thomas Fortune House, the historic site that was once home to the pioneering African American journalist and publisher whose name adorns the property on Drs. James Parker Boulevard. While much work remains to be done toward the goal of transforming the boarded-up 19th century home into an educational and cultural center, a group of Monmouth County neighbors is also engaged in making the long-deceased Mr. Fortune into a still-vital presence; one with a message to convey to contemporary community members of all ages and backgrounds.
This Saturday afternoon, September 17, Red Bank’s Calvary Baptist Church will be the setting for another in a regularly scheduled series of meetings by the African American Genealogy Group. Beginning at 1 p.m., it’s a special edition of the event that takes place on the third Saturday of each month.
By JOHN T. WARD
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.
By JOHN T. WARD
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.
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)
The 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
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.
The 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
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.
The documentary feature AUGUST WILSON: THE GROUND ON WHICH I STAND receives a free public-welcome screening on August 19 at Two River Theater. The 7:30 pm event is just part of a slate of special happenings keyed to the Two River production of Wilson’s SEVEN GUITARS, opening September 12 as the first show in the new season.
Press release from The T. Thomas Fortune Project
A free documentary film screening, a Birthday Bash fundraiser for a celebrated figure in Red Bank history, a lecture on the legacy of a great American playwright. All this, plus a Soulful Cook-Off and a Bid Whist Tournament — and all of it keyed to the opening of Seven Guitars, the first production of the new 2015-2016 season at Two River Theater.
The latest in Two River Theater Company’s series of dramas written by August Wilson, Seven Guitars goes up in previews on September 12; opening on September 18 and running a limited engagement through October 4 under the direction of frequent TRTC lead actor Brandon J. Dirden. As an appetizer for that main course, the theater invites one and all to a free screening of August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, on the evening of Wednesday, August 19. Scheduled for 7:30 pm inside the main Rechnitz auditorium at Two River, the documentary feature (originally produced as part of the PBS series American Masters) offers an inside look at the Tony- and Pulitzer winning dramatist who examined African American life in the 20th century through his home turf of Pittsburgh’s Hill District. While admission is free of charge, seating must be reserved by calling the box office at (732)345-1400.
Sunday’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)
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.
On the evening of Friday, June 12, Two River Theater is the scene as The T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee presents another in a series of fundraiser events. Scheduled for the hours of 6 to 10 pm, the benefit will present a distinguished keynote speaker to be announced — and an opportunity for the greater Red Bank community to become involved with the effort to rescue and preserve one of the borough’s genuine historic treasures.
Located at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard, The T. Thomas Fortune House is one of only two National Historic Landmarks in the state of New Jersey (from a total of 57 such sites) with significance to African American heritage. Fortune, the pioneering African American journalist and editor, purchased the home in 1901, giving it the name of Maple Hill — and it was there that he began to do some of his most important work to change the social landscape of America. The Fortune Family remained in the home until 1913, and the property has been unoccupied for several years, falling into disrepair.
A 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
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.
The nonprofit that’s working to save the former home of T. Thomas Fortune hosts readings from the words of the pioneering African-American journalist, with events in Middletown, Red Bank, Shrewsbury and elsewhere.
As part of Black History Month and the National African-American Read-In, the not-for-profit T. Thomas Fortune House Project will host a series of readings from the works of the pioneering civil rights journalist – and onetime resident of Red Bank – T. Thomas Fortune.
Entitled “The People Speak: the Words of T. Thomas Fortune, ” the series includes public-welcome events at Middletown Township Public Library and Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch, in addition to a student-faculty fundraiser at Red Bank Middle School.
It’s the latest in an ongoing program designed to raise funds and awareness toward the effort to acquire, stabilize and restore the T. Thomas Fortune House, the National Historic Landmark at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard where the editor, publisher, poet, author and early civil rights activist resided from 1901-1908.
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.
By JOHN T. WARD
A day that Red Bank historic preservationists have dreaded for years appears nearer as the owners of the so-called T. Thomas Fortune house have filed a formal request to demolish the historic structure.
Eighty-six-year-old James Vaccarrelli of Shrewsbury, who owned the house with his brother Anthony, filed for a demolition permit from the borough last Friday afternoon, borough planning director Donna Smith-Barr tells redbankgreen.
Anthony Vaccarelli, 93, died at his Red Bank home last month, according to an obituary published by the Asbury Park Press. James tells redbankgreen that the move was anticipated prior to his brother’s death, as efforts to sell the property in recent years have failed because of the deteriorated condition of the house.
“There’s nothing to save,” said Vaccarelli, who was born and raised in the house, at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard. “It’s a shame, but vandals got into it many, many times, even though it was boarded up, and they just wrecked it.”
At their first working session on January 8, 2014, the members of the Red Bank Borough Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring February to be T. Thomas Fortune month in the borough.
The resolution was introduced by Cindy Burnham, who was recently elected to the council. February is nationally designated as Black History Month, and the resolution serves as a formal recognition to a great human rights activist.
Born into slavery, Fortune’s trailblazing rise as a firebrand journalist, publisher and writer rebuked the government’s failed attempt at Reconstruction, which led to the rise of Jim Crow and black code laws. Fortune has been credited with being the bridge to the modern day Civil Rights Movement. In 1880, he formed the Afro American League, which was a pre-curser to the NAACP.
From 1901 to 1911, Fortune resided at the home he called Maple Hill, at 94 West Bergen Avenue (now known as Drs. James Parker Boulevard). While living there, he entertained such black leaders as Booker T. Washington. He also edited the works of Marcus Garvey while living there.
From press materials furnished by T. Thomas Fortune Preservation Project
It’s one of only 57 National Historic Landmarks in the state of New Jersey — one of just two related to African American history. Yet for years, the Red Bank property known as the T. Thomas Fortune House has sat boarded up; deemed uninhabitable — even unfit for showing to prospective purchasers — in its current condition.
Here in 2013, an organization known as the T. Thomas Fortune Preservation Project seeks to acquire, stabilize and restore the home at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard (formerly Bergen Place), with the aim of developing the Second Empire-style structure into a cultural center that will celebrate the legacy of such borough-based leaders in the arts and community service as William “Count” Basie and the Parker family.
Working in partnership with the Red Bank Men’s Club Foundation and the leadership of the National Landmarks Alliance and Garden State Legacy, the Preservation Project describes its membership as “a group of educators, architects, writers, attorneys, performance artists, and more who have come together to share the legacy of an outstanding figure in American history, for the benefit of all.”