Search Results for: red bank historic preservation commission

RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE MAY BE RAZED

The house, at 94 Drs. Parker Boulevard, was once the home of African American journalist T. Thomas Fortune. (Click to enlarge)

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.”

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RED BANK: PLANNERS SPAR OVER FACADES

joe romanowski 111513 2A plan by Joe Romanowski to remove the vestibule of his new Goldtinker store on Broad Street won approval. So did Tommy’s Coal-Fired Pizza’s request to permanently enclose seasonal seating area at the Galleria, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

tommy's 042114The  Red Bank planning board approved a restaurant expansion, a downtown facade change and the renovation of what Mayor Pasquale Menna called a “cancerous eyesore” Monday night.

Along the way were some unusual flashes of passion among board members.

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HISTORIC PRESERVATION GRANTS DOLED OUT

The Broad Street home of the Woman’s Club of Red Bank is in line for some spruce-up funds from Freehold. (Click to enlarge)

The Woman’s Club of Red Bank and three historic structures in Shrewsbury are among the local nonprofits set to share in $71,200 in grants awarded by the Monmouth County Historical Commission, the county government announced Friday.

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OLDEST HOME GETS ITS HISTORICAL DUE

white-house1Red Bank’s oldest house, on South Street, was finally put on the state’s list of historic places last week. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A tour of Mary Gilligan’s South Street home is, quite literally, a trip back in time, starting with the walk up the driveway, as you take a look at the white Dutch Colonial. The upstairs windows, shrunken versions of the ones downstairs, are the first sign that something is different about this house.

Is that a one-story or two-story? Actually, it’s a one-and-a-half story.

Then you walk through the front door, which can only be unlocked with a skeleton key, and walk on wide wooden floor boards that have been there since the 1790s. Through a couple short doorways — “For anybody above my height, the rule is, watch your head,” the vertically-challenged Gilligan said — to the kitchen, where Gilligan uses a wooden chopping block and slaughter table, which have been in the home for centuries, to store various kitchen items. Eighteenth century families did not have CuisinArt collections or varieties of Swiffer’s to amass, so storage space is at a premium in Gilligan’s home.

“The hope is to have more cabinets so I can actually put things away,” she said.

One project at a time. Her most recent feat came last week when the house, the oldest in Red Bank, was accept to the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, an endeavor six years in the making.

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OOPS: IT’S NOT HISTORIC — YET

80-efront-red-bankThe lot, at the corner of East Front and Washington Streets, has been vacant since a Victorian home was demolished in 2005. (Click to enlarge)

Last week, redbankgreen reported that a Monmouth County architect had met recently with historic preservation advocates in Red Bank about building a four-unit condo project on a vacant lot at the corner of East Front and Washington streets.

The meeting was a courtesy call of sorts. Brendan McHugh, a Manasquan-based architect working for an unidentified prospective buyer and developer of the site, sat down with members of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission to give them a heads-up and get early feedback on the plan. He hadn’t, and still hasn’t, filed any formal proposal with the town.

The commission plays an advisory role in land use issues involving properties in the Washington Street Historic District, and the lot McHugh was targeting was in the zone.

Or so everyone at the meeting thought.

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TALK OF TOWNHOUSES IN HISTORIC DISTRICT

washington-stAn architect has drawn up plans for townouses for a vacant lot in Red Bank’s historic district, but nothing has been filed with the borough. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A vacant lot in Red Bank’s historic district could become the site of townhouse-style condos if informal plans now in the works gel.

Brendan McHugh, a Manasquan-based architect, has drawn up plans for a four-unit project at the corner of East Front and Washington streets, and recently made an informal pitch about his plans to the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission.

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PRESERVATION GROUP GETS SPOTLIGHT

hpc-washington1Historic Preservation Commission members Ed Zipprich, Michaela Ferrigine and George Bowden outside a old house on Washington Street. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It took a couple of years of legwork and hustle, but the efforts of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Commission paid off in June when the Borough Council passed an ordinance designating the Washington Street District as the borough’s first residential historic zone.

What they’ll receive on behalf of the borough tonight is like, well, the slate roof on a gingerbread Victorian.

Commission chairman George Bowden, Councilman Ed Zipprich and others are scheduled to appear at the Monmouth County Planning Board‘s annual awards ceremony at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel tonight.

They’ll be there to collect a Planning Merit Award, an honor given to towns that the board feels have made significant and positive impacts to their respective communities, said Laura Kirby, assistant planner for the county.

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PRESERVATIONISTS DEMAND STATION FIXES

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Peeling paint and rotting wood at the Red Bank train station have preservationists worried about “demolition by neglect.” (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank’s Historic Preservation Commission has gone on the offensive against New Jersey Transit, owner of the borough train station, for what it calls apparently “intentional” lack of maintenance.

The agency’s failure to replace a failing asphalt shingle roof or do basic painting on the circa 1875 structure constitutes “demolition by neglect,” leaving the building in “such a deteriorated state that Transit will insist they have no other option other than to demolish the structure,” the commission says in a letter presented to the borough council Monday night.

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COUNCIL WRAP: NEW HISTORIC DISTRICT OK’D

bowden-georger3Historic Preservation Commission chairman George Bowden spoke about the new Washington Street historic district.

Elected officials approved Red Bank’s first residential historic district Tuesday night at a fast-paced session.

With Council President Art Murphy sitting in for an absent Mayor Pasquale Menna, the borough council also heard a glowing review of the government’s financial systems and cleared the way for a September event at Riverside Gardens Park that had raised concerns. Read More »

TO DO: A DAY FOR RED BANKERS

RB Day 2008The event was born of last year’s centennial event and picnic at Count Basie Fields.

What: Second annual Red Bank Day, four hours of food, music and neighborliness, followed Sunday by tours of historic homes in the borough.

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PRESERVATIONISTS MEET AMID CASH WOES

Pnj3Attendees found seats wherever they could, even on the stairs of the restored former Anthony Reckless homestead, better known as the Woman’s Club of Red Bank.

By JoANN PILEGGI

Money woes are putting the brakes on pet projects all over New Jersey, but that didn’t stop historical preservation activists from packing the Woman’s Club of Red Bank on Saturday.

It was standing room only at the annual meeting of Preservation New Jersey, the membership-supported historic preservation organization that in 2007 dubbed Red Bank’s T. Timothy Fortune house one of of the state’s ten most-endangered historical properties.

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COOL SCHOOL VID ON RED BANK HISTORY

Lest we forget, Red Bank is still in its centennial year, and reminders of that milestone continue to pop up now and again.

The latest is the above video, shot and produced by four students, aged 14 to 17, who enrolled in the Count Basie Theatre’s Cool School this summer.

The kids, who did all the shooting, are Dylan Smart, Jenn Lewis, Mike Hagberg Jr. and Jack Calabro, says Yvonne Scudiery, the Basie’s director of education.

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HAPPY B-DAY, RED BANK! ARE WE EARLY?

Centennial1

Where’s Willard Scott? Where’s the cake? Where’s our SILLY PARTY HAT?

Red Bank Borough is 100 years old today!

Or next Monday, depending on which birth certificate you go by.

A century ago, on March 10, 1908, the New Jersey Legislature passed an act to incorporate Red Bank as a borough, “effective immediately.”

One week later the law “went into effect, when a certified copy of the bill was recorded at Freehold,” the weekly Red Bank Register reported in its March 18 edition.

The new law designated the form and powers of the government, which would consist of a mayor and six “councilmen” who, in addition to levying taxes, would have the authority to:

Stop animals from running at large.

Kill dogs running at large.

Stop fast driving.

Not to mention “license pedlers [sic], auctioneers, news stands, theaters, circuses, shooting galleries, bowling alleys, organ grinders etc.”

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THE ‘ENERGIZER BUNNY’ OF PRESERVATION

Bowden1

Considering its dire implications, the news earlier this month that a Red Bank house had been had been designated one of New Jersey’s 10 most endangered historic sites was oddly encouraging to a near-octagenarian with a weatherbeaten voice and fu manchu straight out of the ’60s.

Oddly, that is, because inclusion on the list put together by Preservation New Jersey provides no guarantees that the house will be saved. It offers no legal leverage against a present or future owner who might decide to knock the house down. There’s no money in it, either.

In sum, the appellation is as toothless as a newborn.

Yet George Bowden was ecstatic. He’d known that the house, once the home of pioneering African-American newspaperman T. (Timothy) Thomas Fortune, might land on the list, but asked that that not be publicized until it was official, after which “we can blow it sky high,” he told redbankgreen with characteristic enthusiasm.

Once it was announced, Bowden started making plans to leverage the endorsement of historians across the state. He began planning outreach to community groups, leaders of African-American congregations — he’s even reached out to Oprah. Whatever it takes to get the word out.

“You can try to prevent it through the press, or local support,” he says, “but there’s no legal groundwork for preventing demolition.”

“He’s like the Energizer bunny,” says Ed Zipprich, a candidate for council this year who serves on the borough’s Historical Preservation Commission that Bowden heads.

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‘HISTORIC’ LIST UPDATE

The Red Bank Historic Inventory would grow to 80 properties with the inclusion of ten new—or actually, old—properties under a proposal to the council by the borough’s Historic Preservations Commission.

Layli White of The Hub has a story today. From her report:

The new additions to the inventory, all private residences, would include: 20 Alston Court, 1 Hilltop Terrace, 15 Hilltop Terrace, 45 North Prospect Ave., 117 Prospect Ave., 35 Rector Place, 62-62B W. Front St., 65 W. Front St. (Trinity Episcopal Church), 32 Shrewsbury Ave. and 47 Wallace St.

Bowden said that 1 Hilltop Terrace was one of the properties worth a special mention because it was a service building for a large, Mediterranean-style estate that once stood nearby.

“The main house had 22 rooms,” said Bowden. “Can you imagine having a party in a house like that?”

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‘NICE LITTLE BRICK WALL’ VANISHES

One of Red Bank’s architectural treasures fell to the sledgehammer this week when workmen demolished the intricate brick fence at the United Methodist Church on Broad Street.

Brickwall2

The removal of the wall, apparently prompted by an accelerating state of decay, took longtime Red Bankers by surprise.

“I’m thoroughly disgusted,” said George Bowden, chairman of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Commission who had written to a church elder more than a year ago urging the church to preserve the wall, without receiving a formal reply. “It’s a tearing of the historic fabric of the town of Red Bank.”

Mayor Ed McKenna, whose law office is a few doors north of the church, said he was “shocked” to see that the wall had disappeared from one day to the next.

Church officials did not respond to requests for comment by redbankgreen, which happened upon the scene as the wall was being taken down Tuesday afternoon.

By late Wednesday, every scrap of brick and mortar had been removed, leaving only the poured concrete foundation several inches below the surface of the ground.

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MIDDLETOWN: GEORGE BOWDEN DIES

red bank george bowdenGeorge Bowden, right, with Historic Preservation Commission members Charles Nickerson and Michaela Ferrigine in 2016. Below, Bowden spearheaded the borough’s centennial celebration and parade in 2009.(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank george bowdenGeorge Bowden, once dubbed “the Energizer bunny” of historic preservation in Red Bank, died at home in Middletown Sunday. He was 92 years old.

Galvanized into action in 2001, after the borough allowed the demolition of an old house on West Front Street, Bowden became a champion for old and neglected structures in town.

Not least of those was the T. Thomas Fortune House, which was resurrected from near-oblivion earlier this year, more than a decade after Bowden and others launched a campaign to save it.

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MIDDLETOWN: FUNDRAISER FOR BOWDENS

Family and friends have raised more than $12,000 to help two former Red Bank volunteers injured by a fire in their Middletown home earlier this month.

George Bowden, 91, and his wife, Gladys Bowden, 88, were both injured when their condo in the Shadow Lake Village complex in the River Plaza section of the township was heavily damaged by an electrical fire on December 15.

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FAIR HAVEN: SORENSEN Q&A

Susan Sorensen. (Click to enlarge.)

Two three-year terms on the Fair Haven Borough Council are up for grabs in the November 7 election. On the ballot are four candidates: incumbent Republican Susan Sorensen and her running mate, Betsy Koch; and incumbent Democrat Christopher Rodriguez and his running mate, Jessica Patel.

Here are Sorensen’s written responses to questions posed to all four candidates recently by redbankgreen.

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LITTLE SILVER: HEALY Q&A

Christopher Healy. (Click to enlarge.)

Two three-year terms on the Little Silver Borough Council are up for grabs in the November 7 election. On the ballot are four candidates: incumbent Republican Dane Mihlon; his running mate, Michael Holzapfel; and Democrats Christopher Healy and Matthew Cohen,

Here are Healy’s written responses to questions posed to all four candidates recently by redbankgreen.

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LITTLE SILVER: MU PROF JOINS PARKER BOARD

Parker_HomesteadThe nonprofit organization governing the ongiong restoration of the historic Parker Homestead (above) has named Monmouth University faculty member and historian Melissa Ziobro (below) to its Board of Trustees.

Press release from Parker Homestead-1665

ziobroThe Parker Homestead-1665 has named Melissa Ziobro to its Board of Trustees. A Specialist Professor of Public History at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, Ziobro currently teaches courses in Public History, Oral History, and Museums and Archives Management.

Her service to the University includes administration of the Monmouth Memories Oral History Program. Earlier this year Ziobro began recording the oral history of Parker Homestead by interviewing Robert Sickles Sr. — nephew of Julia Parker, who deeded the property to Little Silver — about his memories of Julia and life on the Homestead.

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LINCROFT: FORT HANCOCK ON AGENDA

ft hancock 4 070113The first of four  public meetings on the preservation and repurposing of Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook, including the bayside Officers’ Row, above, will be held Friday in Lincroft.

ft hancock 1 070113For more than 70 years, it stood at the ready, protecting lower New York Harbor and the northern Jersey Shore from invasion by sea. Between its founding in 1898 and its decommissioning in 1974, the United States Army base at Fort Hancock was a center of activity at the northern tip of Sandy Hook — and today its landmark buildings await decisions on their preservation and ultimate repurposing.

This Friday, June 26, members of the public are welcome to attend the first in a series of four meetings of the Fort Hancock 21st Century Federal Advisory Committee, hosted inside the Visitors Center at Thompson Park, Newman Springs Road in Lincroft. Committee members will be joined by representatives of Gateway National Recreation Area, the federal Landmark District that includes the entire Sandy Hook peninsula. Scheduled to commence at 9 am, the meeting will include a regularly scheduled public comment period that begins at 11:30.

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FIVE JOIN MONMOUTH CONSERVATION BOARD

mcf+-+CHRISS-LANDING-seagulls-tinaThe foundation is in the process of acquiring the 15-acre Chris’s Landing in River Plaza. Below, Meredyth R. Armitage. (Photo below by Tina Colella. Click to enlarge)

Press release from the Middletown-based Monmouth Conservation Foundation.

Meredyth R. ArmitageMonmouth Conservation Foundation, the non-profit organization that collaboratively has preserved more than 22,500 acres of open space and farmland throughout Monmouth County, is pleased to announce five individuals have joined the organization’s Board of Trustees: Meredyth R. Armitage, Paul R. Brown, Ph.D., Mai Cleary, Mark Forrest Gilbertson, and Bob Sickles.

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SAVING A FORTUNE, IN RB REAL ESTATE

fortune-house2011Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune House, pictured in a 2011 file photo, is the subject of an ongoing effort to rescue and preserve the property as a community cultural center. (photo by Dustin Racioppi)

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.”

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