BACK IN TIME, ON WATER HARD & SOFT

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The reception room of the Atrium at Navesink Harbor was packed with river rats and history mavens old and young Thursday night for short program on the history of our beautiful Navesink as a playground for recreational boaters and iceboaters.

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CALENDAR TAPS RED BANK PHOTO ARCHIVE

dorns-downtown-1951“Wiggie’s Kiddie Center?” A view north on Broad Street in 1951, from the Dorn’s Classic Images archive, is included in the calendar. (Click to enlarge and see Wiggie’s at left)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Two of Red Bank’s most venerable names in commerce have gotten together for a little nostalgia trip into the borough’s past.

It’s a 12-month journey captured in photographs that show Red Bank’s buildings and streetscapes from 1940 to 1979, put into calendar form by David Prown of Prown’s Home Improvement and the husband-wife duo of George Severini and Kathy Dorn Severini oF Dorn’s Classic Images.

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HISTORIANS BLAST NJT FOR STATION NEGLECT

rb-hist-commHistoric Preservation Commission member Mary Gilligan addresses the council Monday night, joined by members George Bowden, left, and Ed Poplawski.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For 15 years, Mary Gilligan says, she’s “watched pieces fall off” Red Bank’s train station on the North Jersey Coast Line rails. And for most of that time, except for some slapdash and historically inapt repairs, station owner New Jersey Transit has ignored the pleas of town officials to halt the decay.

Now, Gilligan and other members of the Historic Preservation Commission are hoping to “hold NJ Transit’s feet to the fire” and force it to halt the deterioration before the salmon-colored, gingerbread-trimmed structure crumbles to the asphalt.

“The building is derelict,” Gilligan told the borough council in a bluntly worded appeal for action Monday night. “There’s not another train station in this state that looks this bad.”

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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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RED BANK RED BRICK

2-broad-081809The plastic sheathing that had covered a scaffold on the east side of 2 Broad Street in Red Bank for months came down this week, exposing the structure’s original red brick for the first time in decades. The building, built around 1875, is to house an Urban Outfitters store slated to open later this year.

Our photo was taken from the semi-enclosed balcony at 7 Broad. (Click to enlarge)

MANSION-TO-OFFICE PLAN OK’D IN SQUEAKER

28-leroyNew owner Charlie McCague says he spent $50,000 to restore the slate-and-copper roof of the structure and will preserve the clapboard exterior and interior layout.

After a vote that sharply divided the borough planning board, one of Red Bank’s most distinctive old mansions is going commercial.

The century-old Victorian at 28 LeRoy Place is to become an accountant’s office after a vote on the conversion split the board 5-4 Monday night.

Those in favor cited the fact that the structure is in a professional office zone and argued it would serve as a buffer between nearby homes and the “abomination” of the former Sun Bank at the corner of LeRoy and Broad Street.

Those opposed said they were concerned about “creeping commercialism” and a “domino effect” leading to other homes on Leroy being turned into offices on the strength of an approval.

“No,” said Councilwoman Sharon Lee, when called on to vote. “It constitutes an assault on our historic homes.”

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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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HISTORY ON THE BLOCK, PIECE BY PIECE

fh-williams-backThe Charles Williams House, dating to the mid-19th century, will be the site of an estate sale on Saturday.

Fair Haven officials expect to hold a final debate and vote next Monday on whether to float a bond to buy and raze one of the oldest homes in town to create a riverfront park.

Meantime, on Saturday, the owners of the house built by free black man Charles Williams in 1855 are planning to sell its contents at what promises to be an unusual yard sale, redbankgreen has learned.

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FAIR HAVEN TO SEEK GREEN ACRES FUNDS

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Residents of DeNormandie Avenue have raised traffic and parking concerns about the proposed conversion of the riverfront residence to a park.

In response to concerns raised by neighbors, Fair Haven officials last night put off voting on a plan to fund the $1.2 million purchase of a one-acre parcel on the Navesink River, according to a report in today’s Asbury Park Press.

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CENTURY HOUSE EYED FOR POCKET PARK

fh-williamshouseWith its million-dollar view of the Navesink, the Charles Williams house would be razed sooner or later, locals appear to agree. Below, a weathered medallion on the doorframe marks the structure as a Century House.
(Click to enlarge)

It’s a homestead that links Fair Haven not only to its roots as a riverfront village, but to the bedrock of its identity as a place where African Americans made their homes even in the days of slavery.

The Charles Williams house, built overlooking the Navesink River in 1855, has remained in the same family without interruption, pre-Emancipation right through the death of its most recent occupant, who lived there for 90 years.

Her name was Winifred Julia Decatur Robards, and she died one year ago this week at the age of 92, adding to the rapid erosion of the borough’s small black community.

But years before her death, she and her two sons saw the end of the line coming, and planned to put the house up for sale. And now, it appears the Williams house will indeed fall to a bulldozer at the behest of its next owner: the borough of Fair Haven itself.

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