By Charles Layton
Photos by Paul Goldfinger
For all the months we’ve been writing about the abandoned house at 91 Cookman Avenue, and for all the years neighbors have complained about it, we’d never gotten an inside look at the place.
On Wednesday, the new owner, Jack R. Green III, and his son and associate in the building business, Jack Green IV, gave us a tour. Workmen had hauled out most of the debris – about two dumpster loads — so what we saw was a good deal neater than the place’s actual condition during the past decade.
Even so, what a dump!
At some point during the period of its deterioration a fire broke out on the second floor, and the damage is still apparent – blackened walls, doorways and ceilings.
The house had been owned by a New York City woman who inherited it from her parents but lacked the means to maintain it. Jack Green IV purchased it on June 30 with the intention of renovating.
One of his architects, Carolyn Young, was there on Wednesday taking measurements with a tape. She and another architect, Cate Comerford, will prepare plans in the coming days. Green said his team will submit the plans to Neptune’s zoning department and then to the Historic Preservation Commission. If all of that goes well, he said he’d like to begin work by mid-December.
His hope is to have the place restored and ready to put on the market by summer. Green has considerable experience restoring old houses in Ocean Grove, and he does not seem intimidated by this one. “This is an easy one,” he told us.
According to the previous owner, the house dates back at least to 1891. It is considered a “key structure” in the Historic District of Ocean Grove, meaning it is listed in Neptune’s Master Plan as having special historical and architectural importance.
Green paid $182,000 for the property. He said it probably will cost him at least $300,000 to renovate, not including taxes and overhead. When it’s done, he will probably put it on the market for about $620,000, he said.
This house is one of a handful of deteriorated properties that have caused concern in Ocean Grove in recent years. Its renovation will constitute a rare victory in the struggle to save these crumbling old architectural gems.