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RED BANK: NEW HISTORY IN FORTUNE HOUSE

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.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE LAUDS VOLUNTEER

Red Bank resident Suubi Mondesir was honored earlier this month at a fundraiser for the T. Thomas Fortune House for significant contributions to save the historic home of the 19th-century journalist and civil rights activist.

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FAIR HAVEN: BACK TO THE FOREFRONT

After spending the last five months on rails at the back of a River Road, Fair Haven lot, a 150-year old old house-turned-retail structure was slid into place over a new foundation at the front last week.

What’s Going On Here? Read on.

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RED BANK: ARTISTS HONOR ONE OF THEIR OWN

Colleagues in creativity plan to honor the late artist Terry McCue, above, with a bench that overlooks the Navesink River from the Red Bank Public Library, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

To honor of one of their own, the members of a long-standing monthly art class at the Red Bank Public Library plan to install a bench on the institution’s grounds overlooking the Navesink River.

First, they’re selling their own work to fund it.

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RED BANK: BASIE STARTS MASSIVE EXPANSION

Dozens of local politicians and players in the arts world turned out for the event. Below, Basie board members Steven Van Zandt and his wife, Maureen Van Zandt. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A $23 million expansion of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre formally got underway Wednesday, beginning what’s expected to be a 20-month endeavor to turn the Vaudeville-era venue into a powerhouse for live performance and arts education.

The aim, musician and actor Steven Van Zandt told an al fresco gathering, is “to make Red Bank an example to the rest of the county of what it is possible to do” in elevating the arts.

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RED BANK: BROWNSTONES PROJECT APPROVED

Mumford’s plan calls for the demolition of six existing structures, including the blocklong factory building at 9 Catherine Street, above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank real estate developer Roger Mumford won plaudits Thursday night from neighbors — along with zoning board approval — for a 22-unit townhouse project on a West Side industrial tract.

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RED BANK: UP NEXT: MUMFORD TOWNHOUSES

A rendering of builder Roger Mumford’s proposed Brownstones at Red Bank project. (Click to enlarge)

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.

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RUMSON: ARTISTS RETURN TO CANTERBURY

The annual Canterbury Art Show unfurls its Labor Day weekend “Tapestry of the Arts” festival beginning with a reception and preview sale Friday.

It’s an event that regularly draws the participation of nearly 100 area artists, and a display that boasts an inventory of more than 600 creative works in a myriad of media.

Going up in Rumson this weekend for its sixth annual edition — the fourth since making a well-received move to the Labor Day holiday interlude — the festival known as the Canterbury Art Show…a Tapestry of the Arts is also a forum in which several of the artists put themselves on live-action display, and in which the grandest work of art just might be the host venue itself.

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MIDDLETOWN: IT TAKES A VILLAGE

The Middletown Arts Center on Church Street is the point of departure for a walking tour of the historic Middletown Village district Saturday morning.

Among other things, the Independence Day holiday serves to spur awareness of our own Yankee Doodle history here on the Greater Red Bank Green — a timeline that predates the signing of the Declaration, as represented by National Historic Sites like Little Silver’s Parker Homestead (established in 1665), the Seabrook-Wilson House at the Bayshore (c. 1720), and the centuries-old structures of Shrewsbury’s “Four Corners.”

Then there’s Middletown Township; Monmouth County’s largest, most sprawling municipality — and among its oldest. Even many who reside there may not realize that at the heart of its nearly 60 square miles sits a walkable little village — and this Saturday morning, history buffs and the historically curious are invited to take a step back in time, one that begins mere minutes from station stop Red Bank and just a few paces from the North Jersey Coast Line platform.

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MIDDLETOWN: ‘GIANTS OF SCIENCE’ POP BY

Their not-so-secret identities include familiar names that span centuries: founding father Ben Franklin, inventor Thomas Edison, anthropologist Dian Fossey and Silicon Valley visionary Steve Jobs. Considered together, they’re the American Giants of Science — a superteam with a mission to rekindle a young nation’s intellectual curiosity in a tech-driven age when scientific inquiry appears under siege.

On Wednesday morning, explorers aged 7 and up are invited to take part in an interactive “whirlwind tour through time,” with the point of departure the Middletown Township Public Library.

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SHREWSBURY: HISTORIC PLAQUE REDEDICATED

Left to right: Local NSDAR chapter Vice Regent Deborah Hvizdos, Lillian Nemcik, Elizabeth Dunnell, Chaplain Jo Ann Mazzucca, Jacob Rue, and Regent Kathleen Evans rededicate a restored bronze plaque marking the historic Delaware Trail, during a Memorial Day ceremony at Shrewsbury’s Patriot’s Isle.

Press release from Shrewsbury Towne-Monmouth Chapter, NSDAR

In 1935, a bronze plaque was set on a sycamore tree located on Patriot’s Isle, at the Four Corners intersection of Sycamore Avenue and Broad Street in Shrewsbury. Planted by early colonists, the tree served to mark the Delaware Trail, used by the area’s Native American inhabitants — and later by George Washington’s troops, as they marched through New Jersey during the Revolutionary War campaign.

On Memorial Day, May 29, the refurbished bronze plaque was reinstalled near the site of its historic host tree, by members of the Shrewsbury Towne-Monmouth Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR).

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LITTLE SILVER: VINTAGE BASEBALL RETURNS

Captain Russ McIver (front and center) returns with the Monmouth Furnace Base Ball Club to Sickles Park this Sunday for an afternoon of 19th-century-style sporting.  

Send the DH to the bench; leave the protective helmets in the equipment locker; and be prepared to hurl a complete game every game, if you happen to be the pitcher. The Monmouth Furnace Vintage Base Ball Club is back on the Greater Red Bank Green — and once again, it’ll be playing the Great American Pastime according to 60’s-era rules. The 1860s, that is.

Based at Allaire State Park — and playing a summertime schedule within a regional amateur league of Vintage Base Ball clubs — the organization formerly known as the “Bog Iron Boys” returns to Little Silver this Sunday as part of a special day at the historic Parker Homestead 1665.

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RED BANK: RACIAL ROOTS OF MEMORIAL DAY

Walter Greason in 2014.   (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

As part of a continuing series of discussions called “Let’s Talk About Race,” the Red Bank Public Library hosts a lecture Wednesday night on “The Surprising Origins of Memorial Day.”

RED BANK: AIR RAID SIRENS SILENCED AT LAST

Civil Defense sirens atop a pole on Branch Avenue. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

First came the spoken warning of a test, and then, the extended, ear-piercing blare.

During the chilliest part of the Cold War, the weekly tests of the Civil Defense air raid sirens mounted on utility poles across town served as a weekly reminder to Red Bank residents and visitors that the potential for nuclear catastrophe was real, imminent, and that they should be ready for it.

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RED BANK: ‘BOBFEST’ OF DYLAN, WAR & PEACE

A promo video recaps the history of the annual Bobfest salute to Bob Dylan, which returns to the Count Basie Theatre Thursday night.

When he first offered an impromptu birthday toast to Bob Dylan during a 1999 set at the old Downtown Café in Red Bank, Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme Pat Guadagno didn’t harbor any thoughts of making Bobfest an annual thing, let alone an ever-expanding phenomenon with a life and passionate following all its own.

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SANDY HOOK: A FREE FUNDAY ON THE HOOK

The historic lighthouse at Sandy Hook is one of the man-made and natural highlights of Sunday’s Ocean Family Fun Day.

Closing in on Memorial Day weekend, which marks the return of entry fees at Sandy Hook, the folks at the Hook-based local chapter of the American Littoral​ Society are offering sightseers of all ages one last pre-season opportunity to enjoy the peninsula’s many natural and man-made wonders this Sunday.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY MARKS PAST, EYES FUTURE

The heirs of manufacturer Sigmund Eisner donated his West Front Street mansion to the library, which opened there on April 15, 1937. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Continuing its comeback from a period of drastic retrenchment, the Red Bank Public Library plans a celebration of the borough’s past Saturday with the reopening of the Local History Room, which was put off-limits due to staff cuts three years ago.

The second-floor room’s return to part-time action is one piece of a daylong schedule of events to mark the institution’s 80th year in its home overlooking our beautiful Navesink River.

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ON THE GREEN: AUTHORS SERVE UP MEMORIES

George Severini of Dorn’s Classic Images (above left) joins co-author Rick Geffken for a Thursday evening presentation keyed to their book “Lost Amusement Parks of the North Jersey Shore.”

A must-see presentation on some of the most fondly remembered attractions of our local Shore — and not one but two encore appearances by a best-selling beach-read favorite — are booked in this Thursday, May 11 for galloping gourmets and nostalgia buffs alike.

It begins tomorrow afternoon at Red Bank’s Molly Pitcher Inn, during the Fourth Annual Scholarship Luncheon for the Northern Monmouth County Branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) — an affair at which members of the community are invited to join in an afternoon filled with fun, good food and the opportunity to hear from the New York Times bestselling author, Mary Kay Andrews.

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ON THE GREEN: A TIME-TRIPPING WEEKEND

The Allen House in Shrewsbury’s Historic District is just one of many history-kissed homes, museums and houses of worship open for public perusal during the annual Weekend in Old Monmouth.

It’s a step back in time that includes Little Silver’s Parker Homestead — at more than 350 years of age, a house that’s every bit as old as the colony of New Jersey; the homes and graves of rebel patriots and Tories alike; and centuries-old structures that have served as worship houses, museums and even venues for some Reckless Steamy Nights.

If it’s the first Saturday and Sunday in May, this must be the Weekend in Old Monmouth — and if you’re sufficiently curious about the rich history of the place where you live, there’s never been a better time to get acquainted with the Greater Red Bank Green’s historic sites.

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RED BANK: A FORTUNE HAPPY HOUR

The T. Thomas Fortune House, as it appeared in November and as it’s expected to appear after rehabilitation. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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.

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RED BANK: HOMEBUILDER EYES FACTORIES

A cluster of industrial buildings between Catherine Street, above, and River Street would be razed for new brownstones, according to the prospective builder. Part of the site abuts the Cedar Crossing homes, seen in the distance above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A block of factory buildings on Red Bank’s West Side, including some old millworks and a former guitar factory, could give way to new housing in coming months, redbankgreen has learned.

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FAIR HAVEN: ACME CENTER MAKEOVER OK’D

Three renderings of the proposed monument sign that proved a sticking point for planning board members. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A makeover of Fair Haven’s dowdy Acme shopping center won borough planning board approval Tuesday night, but minus a proposed slab of signage that dominated a three-hour meeting.

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