RED BANK: FORTUNE CULTURAL CENTER OPENS

red bank fortune house Dozens of supporters gathered on the front lawn for the opening of the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. Below, a view of the ceremony from inside the restored house. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank fortune houseMore than a century after the departure of its most famous resident, the T. Thomas Fortune House in Red Bank reopened Thursday as a cultural center dedicated to his mission of advancing civil and human rights.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE ‘MIRACLE’ COMPLETED

red bank nj t. thomas fortune cultural centerThe restored T. Thomas Fortune House on Drs. James Parker Boulevard plans to formally open as a cultural center in May. Below, restoration supervisor Spencer Foxworth and foundation member Robin Blair examine a chandelier to be installed. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank nj t. thomas fortune cultural center

An against-the-odds, decade-long effort to save a Red Bank house that was once the home of a pioneering civil rights journalist has reached its improbable conclusion, people involved in the effort say.

This weekend, local history lovers will get their first-ever chance to tour the T. Thomas Fortune House, a National Historic Register structure that not long ago was about to be razed.

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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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LITTLE SILVER: WIRING BLAMED IN ATTIC FIRE

Volunteer firefighters in Little Silver quickly extinguished a fire in the attic of a home Sunday evening, Chief Nick Hubbard Jr. said Monday.

Emergency responders found black smoke emanating from the attic when they arrived on the scene at 13 Alden Terrace following the 5 p.m. alarm, he said.

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RED BANK: CRAFT BREWERY LEASES FIREHOUSE

John Cocozza and partners plan to open a craft brewery called Ross Brewing Company in the former Liberty Hose Company firehouse on White Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

In another sign of a possible tsunami of craft beer coming to downtown Red Bank, the former Liberty Hose Company firehouse on White Street has been leased to a startup brewery, the principals said Thursday.

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LITTLE SILVER: A QUICK STOP TO A FAST FIRE

The scene at 156 Birch Avenue as captured by fire Chief Nick Hubbard Jr. moments after his arrival Monday afternoon. Below, the charred remains of the townhouse Monday morning(Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Little Silver firefighters stopped a fast-moving townhouse blaze from spreading to an adjoining unit Monday afternoon, Chief Nick Hubbard Jr. said Tuesday.

Though no flames were visible upon his arrival on the scene shortly after the 4:03 p.m. alarm, Hubbard told redbankgreen that the end unit of four attached homes was engulfed in fire within seconds.

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LITTLE SILVER: BLAZE DESTROYS CONDO UNIT

The scene at 156 Birch Avenue around 4 p.m. Monday afternoon(Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A fire that first became apparent as flames shooting from around an outdoor light fixture destroyed at least one Little Silver condo unit Monday afternoon.

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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: 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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RED BANK: BASIE PARKING DEAL YIELDS GAIN

mike-whelan-110416Councilman Mike Whelan outside borough hall earlier this month.(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1It may not seem like much, stacked up against a $22.4 million budget. Still, it’s like finding money on the ground, says first-year Red Bank Councilman Mike Whelan.

A deal Whelan initiated that gives the Count Basie Theatre access to the borough hall parking lot across Monmouth Street has netted the borough nearly $14,000 since it went into effect earlier this year, he says.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE’S GOOD FORTUNE

mumford fortune 072716 1Developer Roger Mumford leads high school journalism students on a tour of the Fortune House. Below, Mumford with preservationist Gilda Rogers. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

gilda rogers roger mumford 072716

Less than a week after the Red Bank zoning board approved a plan to save it, the still-crumbling T. Thomas Fortune House offered a preview Wednesday of its anticipated role: as a cultural and educational center.

About a dozen high school students from around New Jersey took an exterior tour of the onetime home of pioneering civil rights journalist, who lived in it for a decade starting in 1901 and entertained the leading lights of black culture there. In the process, they also got a lesson in how the interests of preservationists and profit-minded developers might converge.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE RESCUE PLAN OK’D

ROGER MUMFORD 072116 1Developer Roger Mumford with an architect’s rendering of the T. Thomas Fortune house as it would appear after restoration. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03

A decade-long effort to save an endangered artifact of African-American history cleared a major milestone Thursday night when the Red Bank zoning board approved a developer’s plan to rebuild the T. Thomas Fortune house and create 31 apartments on its one-acre property.

Borough-based homebuilder Roger Mumford, who vowed to restore and donate the house for use as a cultural center before he would seek certificates of occupancy for the apartments, was hailed as the last-chance savior of a vital relic of the civil rights movement that its current owners want to raze. Residents told the board before its vote that Mumford deserved the tradeoff of more than a dozen variances, most of them arising from the apartment plan.

“If a development project has ever given back to the community, it’s this one,” said Kalman Pipo, a member of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission. “If this project doesn’t go through, we are going to lose this house” to the wrecking ball, he said.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE HOUSE PLAN SCHEDULED

rb fortune house 100614 3Fortune future 062816Developer Roger Mumford‘s plan to save the dilapidated T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard in Red Bank faces its first test this week.

The proposal, which is backed by a volunteer group hoping to preserve the pioneering civil rights journalist’s home, calls for restoring the National Historic Register structure for use as a cultural center devoted to preserving African American history and serving as a resource for social justice initiatives. The plan, dubbed “Fortune Square,” also includes a 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property. Multiple variances are required.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Here’s the agenda: RBZB agenda 072116 (Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: BUILDER EYES FORTUNE HOUSE SITE

Fortune future 062816The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune would be restored for use as a cultural center, as shown in the architectural rendering above. Below, four views of the four-story, 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

fortune square apartments 062816After years of efforts by volunteer historians to halt decades of decay, an historic Red Bank residence may be spared the wrecking ball.

Developer Roger Mumford has proposed restoring what he calls the “highly deteriorated” T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard and turning it into a cultural center.

Mumford’s plan comes with a catch: he wants the town to grant him a host of variances to construct 32 apartments on the site — more than twice the density allowed by zoning law. But he’s billing it as a win for all involved.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL OK’S BASIE PARKING DEAL

rb parking 041316 2The Count Basie Theatre, seen at right above, will be allowed to charge patrons park in the Red Bank two areas of the borough hall lot, including the new section, above, with the town getting half the revenue.(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1It’s a scenario all too familiar to civically minded citizens and, ahem, the occasional reporter: you arrive at Red Bank’s borough hall as much as an hour ahead of a government meeting, and already the parking lot is packed with cars belonging to patrons of the Count Basie Theatre across the street. And good luck finding a space nearby.

But now, borough officials say they’ve resolved the turf war that flares up whenever the Basie has an event at the same time as a municipal meeting.

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RED BANK: MORE PARKING AT BOROUGH HALL

rb parking 04136106 monmouth 080814Workers are putting the finishing touches on a parking lot expansion at Red Bank’s borough hall, which now has a dozen new parking spaces, above. The additional spots are on the site of a borough-owned house, right, that had been used for records storage and as a police gym. The house was demolished in 2o14. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: FIREHOUSE EATERY PLAN FILED

40 white st 021816 2Architect Mike Simpson’s drawings show outdoor dining areas in front of and beside the former firehouse. Below, the building’s interior in 2014. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

40 WHITE 092314 2Already on fire with new restaurants, Red Bank’s downtown dining market could get hotter soon.

The new owners of the former Liberty Hose Company firehouse on White Street hope to convert the 105-year-old building into a restaurant, with two luxury apartments upstairs.

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RED BANK: CAR HITS HOUSE; DWI CHARGED

rb car v house 120415Residents of 144 Spring Street in Red Bank got a jolt at about 12:15 Friday morning when a vehicle plowed into their house, at the corner of Elm Place, causing extensive structural damage but no injuries. Borough police and fire volunteers responded, getting help from Middletown’s special services in shoring up the foundation, said police Chief Darren McConnell.

The driver, 53-year-old borough resident Don Rotolo, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, said McConnell.  (Reader photo Click to enlarge)

 

LITTLE SILVER: BLAZE LINKED TO FIREPLACE

ls azalea fire 112115 3The scene at 19 Azalea Court as firefighters began to cut an opening in the roof, below(Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

ls azalea fire 112115 2A fire that caused extensive damage to a Little Silver residence Saturday night is believed to have started in the fireplace chimney, fire Chief Reiss Pfleger tells redbankgreen.

Volunteer firefighters answering the 8:30 p.m. alarm found the street outside 19 Azalea Court “filled with smoke” on arrival, and the family who lived there safely outside, he said.

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LITTLE SILVER: FIRE AT AZALEA COURT HOME

ls azalea fire 112115 5 ls azalea fire 112115 4Volunteer firefighters from Little Silver and nearby towns were on the scene of a house fire at 19 Azalea Court in Little Silver Saturday night.

The occupants of the house, at the northern end of Sickels Park, were said to have evacuated safely. As of 9:15 p.m., firefighters had cut at least one hole in the home’s roof, as seen at right. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

LINCROFT: A HAUNTED HOMECOMING AT BCC

hauntedtheater3Prepare to diorama as the staff of Brookdale Haunted Theater creaks open the doors of their live-action eeks-cursion beginning Friday night.

hauntedtheater4While it sometimes seems that the shambling zombies and vamping bloodsuckers of a walk-thru haunted house can’t hold a candle to the horrors of the real world, we do take strange comfort from the annual appearance of those hooded goblins and snooded ghouls.

And here on the Greater Red Bank Green, where we embrace our hometown traditions, one of the weirdest rituals of the calendar year returns this Friday, when Brookdale Haunted Theater rises once more for the first of two pre-Halloweekends of pop-up chills.

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RED BANK: STATE BIDS FOR FORTUNE HOUSE

rb fortune house 100614 1The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune has been vacant for many years. Below, an undated photo of Fortune, who owned it from 1901 to 1911.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

T. Thomas FortuneThe state of New Jersey has thrown its support behind efforts to save a historic Red Bank structure by offering to acquire it, redbankgreen has learned.

Two members of the borough Historic Preservation Committee said the state Department of Environmental Protection, though its Green Acres program, has made a purchase offer to the owners of the crumbling T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard.

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