RUMSON: FIREFIGHTER’S VIEW OF BLAZE

Here’s a Sea Bright firefighter’s view, courtesy of a helmet-mounted camera, of Monday’s fire at the Rumson mansion known as Blithewald.

A message on the Sea Bright Fire Rescue Facebook page says this about the footage:

“We feel that releasing this film will not only give the public insight on what we do but will allow our brothers and sisters of the service an opportunity to better both themselves and ourselves in the future. The members made multiple attempts to try and gain control of the fire with an interior attack but were subsequently driven back. Please excuse some of the language as the guys were in the heat of the moment.”

 

RUMSON: ‘TOUGH SPOTS’ MADE FIRE DAUNTING

RUMSON FIRE 042115 2Blithewald as seen Tuesday morning. An area of the roof between two dormers showed heavy damaged, as seen below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

RUMSON FIRE 042115 1The fire that caused extensive to a 132-year-old Rumson mansion Monday proved a challenge to volunteer firefighters, some of whom were on the scene nearly seven hours, Chief Kevin McCarthy tells redbankgreen.

“It’s a big, older house, so there’s lots of tough spots to get into,” said McCarthy. “It took a while to get it all mopped up.”

There was no official word on a possible cause of the blaze. McCarthy referred questions to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office, where a spokesman said information was not immediately available Tuesday morning.

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RUMSON: FIRE RIPS SHOWCASE MANSION

rumson fire 042015 2rumson fire 042015 1Fire caused extensive damage Monday afternoon to a Rumson home slated as the showcase for the monthlong VNA Stately Homes by the Sea fundraiser.

No one was injured in the four-alarm blaze at 76 Buena Vista Avenue, an 1880s-era mansion known as Blithewald. As of 3:30 p.m., three hours after the fire was reported, smoke could still be seen rising through the roof, which had gaping holes in it. There was no immediate official word on a possible cause.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said a heartbroken VNA volunteer who asked not to be named, standing outside the Blithewald gate.

The fire is the second tragedy in recent years to strike the VNA event. In 2013, a van shuttling tour participants hit a dumptruck in Rumson, causing at least one serious injury. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: 160-YEAR-OLD HOUSE RAZED

fh williams 041315fh-williams-backOld but not considered of historic value, Fair Haven’s Charles Williams house (seen at right in 2010), was reduced to splinters and dust Monday morning.

The house, built by a free African-American in 1855,  was acquired by the borough for $1.2 million last November, and the now-vacant lot at the foot of Denormandie Avenue is to become a park property overlooking the Navesink River. Here are some background articles. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

LINCROFT: LUNCH AT THE INN

032115 lincroftinn2A pastrami Reuben  at the Lincroft Inn served in the antique dining room, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

032115 lincroftinn1From outside, the Lincroft Inn, located on Newman Springs Road in the Lincroft section of Middletown, appears a lot like many of the buildings in the strip malls surrounding it: blandly contemporary.

But step inside, and the exposed rafters and wood-paneled walls exude an Old World charm that’s real, because it dates back to 1697, according to the backstory provided in the vast tome of a menu.

As PieHole discovered on a recent What’s For Lunch outing, the inn offers a range of dishes, from elegant Continental fare to a grubby Jersey favorite: a porkroll and cheese sandwich.

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RED BANK: BRINGING IN THE BIG GUN

ft hancock gun 2battery lewisA 120-ton, 16-inch cannon from the battleship USS New Jersey sat in the rail yard in Red Bank Saturday awaiting transport to Battery Lewis in Middletown’s Hartshorne Woods Park.

The gun, similar to one formerly in place at Battery Lewis, is to be hauled by truck to the park on March 30 for temporary, and eventually permanent, installation at the site, which was part of the Navesink Military Reservation during World War II, after which the guns were removed.

More information may be found here. (Click to enlarge)

 

 

www.monmouthcountyparks.com

RED BANK: $100K PLEDGE FOR FORTUNE HOUSE

rb fortune house 2 061213A 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

Timothy_Thomas_FortuneA slow-building effort launched eight years ago to save a historic Red Bank structure from the wrecking ball has gotten a jolt of adrenaline.

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.

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RUMSON: NEW JERSEY’S BEST BAR?

Among the watering holes featured as NJ.com, the website of the Star-Ledger, searches for New Jersey’s Best Bars is Murphy’s Tavern, the Prohibition-era speakeasy hidden in the basement of a Rumson house. Heather Racioppi, who bought the place with fellow Red Bank bartender Robb McMahon in 2005, give NJ.com’s roving reporter Pete Genovese the history. His story is here. (Video courtesy of NJ.com.)

RED BANK: NEW OFFICE FEELS LIKE OLD HOME

199 broad 112914 2With landscaping and exterior detail work still in progress, John Smallwood, below, moved his financial advisory firm into 199 Broad Street last week. (Photo above by Trish Russoniello; below by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

john smallwood 112614More than a year later, John Smallwood still shakes his head in disbelief when he thinks about the appraiser who advised him to tear down the century-old Red Bank mansion he was about to buy and rehabilitate for use as office space.

For one thing, the comment betrayed astonishing ignorance of zoning law, Smallwood said: with just 60 feet of frontage on Broad Street, a new structure would have to be sliver-thin to accommodate setbacks and access to the parking out back.

More than that, though, was the appraiser’s failure to appreciate both the real and intangible value of the structure, at 199 Broad.

“I was really offended” by the suggestion, Smallwood told redbankgreen. “He just didn’t get what we have here.”

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FAIR HAVEN ACQUIRES OLD HOUSE FOR PARK

FH Williams house 011012The Charles Williams house, with the river in the background. Below, a weathered medallion on the doorframe marks the structure as a Century House. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

fh-robardshouse2More than five years after it embarked on the process, Fair Haven has acquired a riverfront property with roots as a home to African-Americans living free in the days of slavery.

Borough officials long ago determined, however, that the Charles Williams house, built overlooking the Navesink River before the Emancipation Proclamation, is not historically significant. It will be demolished to make way for a passive park.

 

 

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RED BANK: ‘DRIVING JERSEY’ REELS ‘EM IN

driving jersey 2‘Driving Jersey,’ a television series that mines the Garden State for its culture, kicks off a new season Wednesday night with footage shot in Red Bank, where producer (and borough resident) Steve Rogers cornered locals for thoughts on their favorite movies.

The season premiere episode, which takes “a sweet look at New Jersey’s place in the history of the silver screen,” airs on NJTV at 8:30 p.m.

RED BANK: SHOE NO LONGER FITS DOWNTOWN

shoe fits 081414With the demise of If the Shoe Fits, Red Bank is losing a business with deep history. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508This time next week, one of the longest-running businesses in downtown will turn off the lights one last time.

Footwear retailer If the Shoe Fits is going out of business, ending a run that began in 1846, its owner tells Retail Churn.

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SANDY HOOK: CAMS AND PARTY MARK 250TH

SH lighthouse 061114 1National Park Service spokesman John Harlan Warren explains the Fresnel lens used in the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. (Photo by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)

By DAN NATALE

SH lighthouse 061114 4On the night of June 11, 1764, stonemason Isaac Conro watched his newest creation come to life. Several pounds of whale oil were poured into a copper lamp atop the Sandy Hook lighthouse and lit aflame, offering ships at sea a guide into New York Harbor.

On Wednesday, the 250th anniversary of that milestone, the switch was thrown on the latest additions to the 103-foot-tall lighthouse: a pair of livestream cams.

The structure – the oldest continually operated lighthouse in the United States – “is an example of how you can preserve something if you take care of it,” said John Harlan Warren, a spokesman for the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area, of which Sandy Hook is part. Read More »

ONRUST GRACES OUR BEAUTIFUL NAVESINK

Against a backdrop of mansions and motorboats, a replica of the Onrust (pronounced AHN-roost) spent a glorious weekend sailing the Navesink River, periodically firing its cannons and giving some 450 visitors a sense of 17th-century maritime life.

The 44-foot-long ship’s three-day visit, arranged by the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association as a dual celebration of the 350th anniversary of the settlement of Monmouth County and as a fundraiser, included stops in Red Bank and Fair Haven, and ended with its departure for home in Watertown, New York, on Monday. (Photos by John T. Ward. Mouseover to pause.)

RED BANK: ONRUST ARRIVES IN GRAND STYLE

onrust 060614 1 onrust 060614 2The Onrust, a replica of the first deck-covered ship built in colonial America, heads up the Navesink River past the Oceanic Bridge Thursday afternoon. The vessel will spend the weekend in Red Bank and Fair Haven. Here’s the schedule of activities, which includes public tours. will berth for two days at Marine Park. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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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RED BANK: REPLICA SHIP TO DOCK IN JUNE

Onrust 1The Onrust, a replica of the first deck-covered ship built in colonial America, will berth for two days at Marine Park. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

They were the tractor-trailers of their day, hauling cargo from port to port in an era when inland roads were all but nonexistent.

Seventeenth-century sailing ships such as the Onrust plied the waters surrounding New Amsterdam, carrying produce and other goods from port to port.

“It’s how everything moved,” according to Michael Humphreys, a board member with the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association. “There were no roads worth traveling,” and hacking one’s way through the woods could get a visitor killed by an unwelcoming Native American, he said.

In June, the NMHA will bring a replica of the Onrust to rust-colored banks of Red Bank. But don’t say the name as it appears: the word is pronounced “AHN-roost.”

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LITTLE SILVER: BARNS TO BE AGE-TESTED

ls parker 1 040814Archaeology students from Monmouth University plan to conduct tests on the barns at Little Silver’s Parker Homestead Friday to determine the ages of the structures. A similar examination was done on the site’s farmhouse, and founding indications that dated it back to 1720, making it one of the oldest houses in America.

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RED BANK: SEEKING EQUALITY, THEN AND NOW

rb equality 021014 2On the panel were longtime housing advocate Flo Apy, at left above; former borough Councilwoman Sharon Lee; and Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb equality 021014 1Dozens of listeners turned out at the Bates Lodge in Red Bank Monday night for a panel discussion on the continuing struggle for racial equality in America.

With its mixed neighborhoods and ownership of businesses by African-Americans, “Red Bank in the 1950s was a hallmark of what was possible in terms of integration,” said Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason, one of three panelists.

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JOURNO’S RED BANK HOME IN SPOTLIGHT

rb fortune house 3 061213T. Thomas Fortune, below, will get a month of honor in February. Meantime, efforts to save his home on Doctors Parker Boulevard continue. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

T. Thomas FortuneNo sharp elbows were thrown. The words ‘Maple Cove‘ weren’t even mentioned.

In her first working session as a member of Red Bank’s otherwise all-Democrat borough council Wednesday night, Republican Cindy Burnham‘s debut act was to introduce a resolution designating February as T. Thomas Fortune Month in the borough.

The anondyne measure won unanimous approval, and opened up a discussion of where things stand with the house that Fortune lived in a century ago.

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LITTLE SILVER: FIRST WALK THROUGH HISTORY

ls parker 122213 2

ls parker 122213 3Dozens of visitors toured Little Silver’s Parker Homestead, which opened to the public Sunday for the first time since it was deeded to the borough in 1996. Among the displays was a Parker family genealogy tree hung on a door, at right. The Rumson Road farmhouse, dating to the early 1700s, and three barns built in the 1800s are facing extensive restoration. (Click to enlarge)

LITTLE SILVER: DOOR TO HISTORY OPENS A BIT

LS parker 121613 2A large hearth, uncovered during recent repairs, is among the historic features on display on a tour of the Parker Homestead on December 22. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LS parker 121613 1For centuries, it was a family’s home. Nothing more than that.

Starting out in the early 1700s as a single-room domicile, it grew out, and up, outlasting all but a few homes in the nation it preceded. Eight generations of Parkers warmed themselves in rooms framed by hand-hewn timbers – when they weren’t working the surrounding land, or harvesting ice from the pond just off the front porch.

“These people weren’t rich, or aristocrats,” Little Silver resident and preservationist Keith Wells said of the Parkers, who arrived here from Rhode Island in 1665. “They were just farmers.”

That simple fact may be lost to the thousands of motorists who have passed by in recent decades, perhaps aware only that the stately home on Rumson Road in Little Silver was for some reason “historic,” an entry on national and state registers of such structures.

But on Sunday, December 22, for the first time ever, the public will get to see the inside of the Parker Homestead, now entering what Wells and others hope is an era of significant repair and restoration. redbankgreen got a sneak peek, of course.

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RED BANK: TALKING SHORE FOOD HISTORY

schnitzspahn 1Author Karen Schnitzspahn brings her knowledge of local cuisine history to the Red bank Public Library tonight. (Photo by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

It’s a Friday afternoon sometime in the late 1880s. A guy walks into a saloon in Red Bank. Which saloon isn’t important, because Red Bank is crowded with watering holes, but let’s say it’s Frank Clausey’s tavern on West Front Street.

Now, there would be a list a mile long of differences between his happy hour experience and our modern day experience of ordering up a martini at the Downtown. But two worth noting, according to Little Silver author and historian Karen Schnitzspahn: the women and the oysters.

First off, there’d be no women – “or at least no proper women,” says Schnitzspahn. Second, there’d be way more oysters on the menu, and they’d be really local.

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