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)

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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?

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GOODS RECYCLED AT TOWNWIDE SALE

fh-yard-saleLauren Shanks, left, tries on a ring at Saturday town-wide yard and sidewalk sale in Fair Haven. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Lauren Shanks scanned jewelry arrayed on a display stand outside Shutters Cottage Home on River Road in Fair Haven Saturday afternoon hoping she’d spot a bargain — the second, perhaps, of the day for the Lincroft resident.

Just minutes earlier, she’d come across an unlikely steal: a birdcage.

“I’m finding a lot of good stuff,” Shanks said.

Down the street in a not-so-conspicuous location, on Lake Avenue, Mike Sena marveled at how well his items were moving as he offloaded a number of vintage rugs, handmade aprons, “tchotchke stuff” and, somewhat surprisingly, birdcages.

“She probably got it here,” Sena said of Shanks’s serendipitous purchase.

In essence, that’s what Fair Haven’s town-wide yard and sidewalk sale was there for: a far-reaching rialto, where residents could set out their extras and others could drop in, hand over cash and move on to the next find in a day-long exercise in small-town retailing.

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CHOPSTICKS, WATER PIPES, SCISSORS & MORE

phole-2Vietnamese eatery Pho Le opened on Broad Street last week. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

rcsm2_010508Middle Broad Street in Red Bank appears to be pulling itself from a retail malaise. It wasn’t all that long ago that for every business in the area, one or two storefronts were empty.

More recently, though, there’s been an infusion of new businesses — and diversity — on the blocks between Monmouth Street and Harding Road, with the addition of two new pizzerias, a gourmet Chinese sit-down, a beauty boutique and two upscale consignment shops.

The latest to join the mix is one-of-a-kind. At 90 Broad, Vietnamese restaurant Pho Le set out the chopsticks and noodle bowls late last month.

More info on the recent churning below.

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“FRESH LOOK, FRESH IDEAS” AT OCEANIC

oceanic-libLolly Ekdahl, Debra Williams and Nanette Reis at the newly renovated Oceanic Free Library in Rumson. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The unassuming building at the corner of Ridge Road and Avenue of Two Rivers, with its boxy, fire-red brick facade and smallish patch of pavement for visitor parking, doesn’t quite do its innards justice.

Especially nowadays.

Perhaps you’ve blown past it on your way to burger night at the Fromagerie, or you’re a snowbird who hasn’t stopped in for a while. It might be hard to figure this is a place where you can read an autographed print version of Benito Mussolini’s autobiography — under supervision — or a digitized bio of Il Duce on a Kindle. Or a place to buy locally-made jewelry and student art. Or to take a laptop and pull in free wi-fi while you watch sleepy Rumson go by.

This is the revamped and renovated Oceanic Free Library, fresh off a multi-month overhaul.

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LITTLE SILVER HOUSE PLAN UP FOR REVIEW

parker-homesteadA plan to open the Parker Homestead as a museum is scheduled for presentation Thursday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

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.

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FOR HISTORY BUFFS, A FANTASTIC SIGN

oakleyFantastic Signs owner John Oakley with his daughter, Charlotte, and some of his sign collection. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s a weekday afternoon, and John Oakley is casually sipping a glass of water watching his two children, Charlotte and Luke, bouncing on an area carpet in his Shrewsbury Avenue showroom. There’s a jump-rope contest coming up, and the kids need practice.

On the wall behind them, there’s a large, white Dorn’s Photography sign. To the right, a red neon “DINER” sign, taken from the old Rex Diner, casts a forceful electric light over the room.

This is the Oakley family’s home away from home, a workshop where Oakley and his wife, Erin, design and fabricate signs; where his kids hang out and play with the family dog, Frank; and where the couple’s collection of roadside Americana dominates the building.

But Oakley’s business, Fantastic Signs, is as much a museum as it is a workspace and den, with fragments of local history that might otherwise be lost to the scrap heap tacked to just about every bit of wall space available.

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A COMMENT ON LOOKING BACK IN TIME

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Our Comment of the Week this week is nice and simple: it’s just one resident communicating to another — and the rest of us, of course — while recalling a special moment.

And it’s all in the context of a story about a calendar created to preserve a bit of Red Bank history while raising a few bucks for a local charity.

That’s community, right?

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AFTER THE GAME…

football_smallFootball Giants fans can get an up-close look, and an autograph, from two members of the Big Blue offense Sunday.

And they won’t have to travel to East Rutherford to do it, either.

Following the team’s season opener against the Carolina Panthers at the New Meadowlands Stadium, wide receiver Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz are scheduled to appear at Mike Gilson’s Fixx, formerly Chuby’s, on West Front Street in Red Bank.

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EMPTY WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY?

65-broadA year after taking over space from the short-lived Nevada Exchange store — which itself followed the short-tenured Maison Blanche — D’Angelico Guitars has left Red Bank. (Photo bu Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With all the empty storefronts and ‘for sale or lease’ signs downtown, it might be hard to see a silver lining for Red Bank’s economy.rcsm2_010508

Scattered along on Broad and Front streets, windows show reflections and hollowed-out stores, not merchandise.

Or they’re plastered with contact information, like one downtown cornerstone, Ashes Cigar Club, which was abruptly shut down during the height of the summer bustle.

But there’s still hope for Red Bank, says Nancy Adams, executive director of RiverCenter, and things aren’t all that bad when you look at the larger economic picture.

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YARD SALE RETURNS FOR THIRD YEAR

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Registration is now open for the third annual Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, scheduled for Saturday, September 25.

Event co-sponsor redbankgreen has created a new yard sale website to serve as the clearinghouse for information about the event, which last year drew thousands of visitors to more than 125 homes across town.

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NOT AN EMPTY SPOT IN THE LOT

In spite of wilting heat, the eighth annual Liberty Hose fire company car show drew some 320 exhibitors and several thousand spectators to the White Street municipal lot in Red Bank Sunday. We’ve got pix.

The event raises funds for scholarships.

To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.

RUMSON’S NEWEST EATERY DISHES AN EYEFUL

the-barnCarl LaGrassa, owner of The Barn in Rumson. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Stepping through the door of 102 Avenue of Two Rivers these days feels more like walking into a garage sale than a spot for pancakes and coffee.

It’s a bit of a cluttered cranny. The windowsills are lined with antiques and tchotchkes. An old Ferris wheel chair looms over the dining room. A large model airplane hangs from a high ceiling amid a wall tacked with old games, toys and artwork, including a blown-up Playboy poster featuring a Born to Run-era Bruce Springsteen. No two chairs match. It’s a dose of colorful cultural clutter with a side of bacon.

But it’s also much more than a trip down memory lane. Nowadays it’s called The Barn, Rumson’s newest eatery.

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FEBRUARY ACCIDENT VICTIM DIES

just_in1The Staten Island woman who was struck by an SUV as she crossed Broad Street in Red Bank on foot two months ago has died.

Alla Tsiring, 44, died over the weekend at the Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune from injuries caused by the accident, according to police Captain Darren McConnell.

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RED BANK STORES SHINE IN MAG’S POLL

downtown-rbA recent view down Broad Street in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In addition to Democratic bent and hyperlocal news sources, Red Bank and Maplewood can add one more item to the list of things they have in common: garnering the most attention from New Jersey Monthly’s readers in the magazine’s annual “Best of Jersey” poll.

Red Bank businesses came away with three No. 1 votes in the shopping category, but also showed well in other classes and earned a bunch of nods as runners-up. Maplewood, in Essex County, dominated the poll, getting the most votes for six shopping categories.

Overall, Red Bank and the redbankgreen coverage area had a strong presence in the magazine’s feature story this month.

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SALON PLANNED AT FORMER EATERY

img_5928Kim Johnson plans to set up a hair styling business in the former Itri’s Luncheonette space.

Looks like the griddle at the long-dormant Itri’s Luncheonette won’t be getting fired up again after all.

Guy Johnson’s dream of reviving the tiny, beloved hash house died late last week when he won approval from the Red Bank zoning board to convert the West Front Street space to retail.

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WEST SIDERS GETTING SOME OVERDUE TLC

danny-murphyDanny Murphy, outside his Bridge Avenue restaurant, is leading an effort to boost the Arts & Antiques District’s profile.

For years, a cluster of businesses west of Red Bank’s downtown has felt like a neglected stepchild.

That was supposed to change with the inclusion three years ago of a portion of the West Side in the special improvement district managed by Red Bank RiverCenter, the quasi-governmental entity that collects a tax on commercial properties and uses the money to spruce up and market the covered area.

The love has been slow to materialize, though. So business owners led by longtime restaurateur and nostalgia maven Danny Murphy have banded together to do the squeaky-wheel thing. And already, they’re starting to get some grease.

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TOWNWIDE YARD SALE REGISTRATION OPENS

cimg858420090813Coming into view in Red Bank: block after block of tables groaning under the weight of good, used stuff.

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Registration is now open for the second annual Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, scheduled for Saturday, September 12, rain or shine.

redbankgreen has created a new yard sale website to serve as the clearinghouse for information about the event, which last year drew thousands of visitors to more than 150 homes across town.

The site features articles about yard sales, with more to come. We’ve also got the registration form that residents must submit in order to have their addresses, and select items they’re selling, listed in an information packet that will be distributed to shoppers the morning for the event. The registration fee for sellers is $10.

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FINAL INNING AT FAMEABILIA

JuliebaronYogi said it ain’t over ’til it’s over, but after seven years on Monmouth Street, Julie Baron and husband Bruce are signing off at their memorabilia showcase store.

By TOM CHESEK

RETIREMENT SALE. EVERYTHING MUST GO. 50% OFF.

The signs went up on Monday morning across the windows of the downtown Red Bank storefront, pretty much taking all who saw them by surprise.

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Even owner Julie Baron admitted to some mixed feelings when she first viewed the new signage from across Monmouth Street. But then, it was Julie’s decision, finalized just this past Sunday night, to close the doors of Fameabilia, the high-profile memorabilia and collectibles business that she and her husband Bruce have operated at 42 Monmouth for nearly seven and a half years.

Bittersweet as the decision may have been, it represents a clean break for the Rumson residents, who have no plans to seek a buyer for the established business, or to continue as an online entity. The owners are committed to staying open through Christmas Eve — “even if there’s just one thing left hanging on the wall,” in Baron’s words — and the store’s regular seven-day schedule is expected to be observed for the duration.

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YARD SALE FEVER SWEEPS RED BANK

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The weather was largely spectacular and the excitement level high for Saturday’s first-ever Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale.

Sellers at some West Side locations had hoped for a bit more traffic, and the two families who set up tables in the Windward Way development off Prospect Avenue were feeling a little isolated from the action.

But throngs of shoppers could be found at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on South Bridge Avenue, which also opened its basement to sellers, as well as along River Road, Harding Road and East Bergen Place, among other streets.

We’ve got pix from the event here (click to enlarge). And check out our story about the bear-hugging shopper from Kingston, NY.

Framed

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A CARLOAD OF DEALS 140 MILES FROM HOME

Img_8669001James Richter, long-distance bargain hunter.

redbankgreen covered a fair amount of ground Saturday, but we kept hearing about a guy who’d really clocked some miles for the Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale.

Word was he’d traveled 140 miles from Kingston, NY. Naturally, we wanted to meet him, but we seemed always to be one step behind him.

Finally, around noon, we crossed paths on the West Side with a shopper, who seeing our camera, told us he and his wife had traveled two hours, from Kingston, NY, for the event.

"What is that, about 140 miles?" we asked.

"Exactly!" he said, his eyes wide, and we knew we’d found our man.

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MAPPING BARGAINS, BORDER TO BORDER

Believe the balloons: No fewer than 147 homes, plus the public library, are participating in Saturday’s Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale.

One “seller” is giving everything away, free. Somebody else has a toilet and sink for sale.

There are Christmas decorations, musical instruments (another drum set included), a diaper-changing table/dresser, a tea cart, exercise equipment and a couple of refrigerators.

We’ve got $10 antiques, CDS, kitchen utensils and, at just about every stop, “household items.” The Red Bank Public Library is getting in on the action, too, with a silent auction of furnishings, including card catalog filing cabinets.

Somebody even took the absolute-truth-in-advertising approach to describing what she’ll be selling: “Junk.”

Saturday is the first-ever Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, and what you’re looking at above is a representation of the enthusiasm with which borough residents have leapt at the chance to repurpose, recycle and just get rid of stuff they no longer need but still has value.

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