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Asbury Park, near the Casino. By Stephen Goldfinger, Blogfinger staff. © Oct. 16, 2015 ©

Asbury Park, near the Casino. By Stephen Goldfinger, Blogfinger staff. © Oct. 16, 2015 ©

On Saturday, October 17, at 5 pm, at the Carousel building in AP, there will be a ceremony honoring all the wall painters who create artistic excitement with their works all over A. Park.  Our Asbury correspondent Stephen Goldfinger lives over there and will be keeping his eyes open for news of interest to us on the other side of the divide.

SINEAD LOHAN    “Sailing By.”

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"the Glad to See You" Tower. By Paul Goldfinger ©

“The Glad to See You” Tower. By Paul Goldfinger © The Casino is in the center of the photo.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

We’ve all walked by that peculiar-looking building on the left side of our photo above, adjacent to the Casino in Asbury Park, at the Ocean Grove North End.

Many of us wondered what that is/was. I’ve never heard a clear explanation until now upon reading a wonderful account, with photos, by Marlo Montanaro, a Jersey Shore photographer, who posted a piece on his blog called “The Monolith of Asbury Park.”

Marlo was able to get information and access inside of that mysterious place. He succinctly refers to it as “the steam power plant,” a name known to many old-timers in this part of the Jersey Shore.

The central tower, seen from the roof. By Marlo Montanaro ©

The central tower, seen from the roof. By Marlo Montanaro ©

The steam plant was built in 1930 in order to provide heat to boardwalk attractions so that Asbury Park could compete year-round for recreational business. It was designed by Warren and Wetmore from New York City who were responsible for other Beaux Arts structures nearby, including the Casino, Convention Hall, Paramount Theatre, and the Berkeley Carteret Hotel to the north.

Inside were three huge boilers that used oil to create steam for heat.  The heat was pumped through pipes to the various buildings.  Water may have been obtained from Wesley Lake or even dumped into the Lake.   There is no information as to the success of the project, but evidently it wasn’t used once WWII occurred.

Lovely photograph inside the steam power plant by Marlo Montanaro. ©

Dramatic photograph inside the steam power plant, by Marlo Montanaro. ©  You can see more of these wonderful images by clicking on his link below.  Marlo’s photos posted here with his permission.

Since then it has stood as a monument of sorts to a utility that lost its purpose over 70 years ago.  In the late c. 1960’s we have a photo of Bruce Springsteen, another Asbury icon,  standing north of the tower.

"Young Bruce" at the north end of the Asbury boards. Photo by Emil Salvini.

“Young Bruce” at the north end of the Asbury boards. Photo by Emil Salvini.

In 2003, a developer wanted to move the Stone Pony into that steam building, but, of course, that did not occur thanks to a lot of noise by the Cousin Brucie rock ‘n roll crowd.

The most original recent contribution to the known history of the steam power plant are the evocative interior photographs that Marlo Montanaro posted last April with his detailed review of the subject.

Here is what he said about the enigmas  that remain, “There are still mysteries here- what it really looked like when she was new… the men that worked here, what 1930 was really like… I can picture dark smoke and steam spewing from the top, the noises of banging steam pipes, and loud oil-fueled fires heating huge tanks of water, the smell of burning oil- steam power is a living, breathing thing.  I can see some of the workmen taking a break, looking out over Wesley Lake as families took a ride on the paddle boats, while they toiled in a hot, nasty environment wearing soot-covered overalls.  I wish I could have seen her in all her glory.  But I can only imagine.”

Below are two links to Marlo’s blogposts dated April, 2014.  Thanks to Joel of OG for tipping us off to the Marlo post.

Marlo’s blog site

Asbury Park Steam Plant article

JANE LANIER from the album Fosse.  It is from the 1954 Broadway musical “The Pajama Game.”

 

 

 

 

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Asbury Park, New Jersey.  By Paul Goldfinger ©

Asbury Park, New Jersey. By Paul Goldfinger ©

ENNIO MORRICONE:   “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso”

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The end of an era. J.J. hauls away the stumps. Photos by Mary Walton

By Charles Layton

Mary and I call it the “stump farm.” Others have called it the “stump yard” and “the telephone pole nursery.” It’s that vast field of wooden pilings in Asbury Park, just across the lake from Ocean Grove’s North End.

After plans fell through for condos there, the stump farm became a display space for spontaneous public art. In particular, a local graffiti artist known as “Stinky Cheese” painted many of the stumps with totem pole-like faces.

This weekend, when we strolled across the foot bridge into Asbury, we found that most of the stumps had been sawed off at ground level and a guy named J.J. was loading them up to be hauled away. He said he worked for the real estate company that owns the property.

He told us the painted stumps “were kind of being pilfered… People were hiding them in the bushes and taking them. It’s kind of crazy.” So now, he said, the stumps will be stored — for what future purpose remains unclear. (It’s also unclear what will eventually become of the vacant lot, except that for now it will get some landscaping.)

We made an effort to locate Stinky Cheese, but failed. He’s one elusive guy. J.J. knows him but doesn’t feel at liberty to divulge much information. He takes his name (pseudonym) from the many paintings of pungent cheese he has left on sidewalks and on the sides of buildings in Asbury — paintings which some self-styled art critics have considered to be defacements. We did find out that Stinky Cheese has been doing graffiti art locally for more than 30 years and that he never paints on new construction, only on buildings in various stages of wreckage or disrepair.

He is said to live in Ocean Grove, but, again, we were unable to pin that down.

He also sometimes goes by the name of “K-So,” apparently a play on the Spanish word for cheese.

We were kind of sorry to see his totem faces being hauled away. They were a bit reminiscent of Easter Island.

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Ocean Grove 1932. By Walker Evans

Ocean Grove 2010. By Erik Landsberg

By Charles Layton

The two pictures above illustrate a story of historical discovery. The story involves one of America’s most celebrated photographers, Walker Evans, who is famous for his naturalistic portraits of sharecroppers during the Great Depression.

The story also involves an Ocean Grove photographer of the present day, Erik Landsberg, who is a great admirer of Evans.

“Sometime around 1980,” Erik says, “my wife, Geanna, gave me the Walker Evans book First and Last,” which is a compendium covering the range of Evans’ photography from the mid-1920s through the early 1970s. It includes some of Evans’ lesser-known work.

“At the time, we were living in Hoboken and I hadn’t even heard of Ocean Grove. Thirteen years later we found ourselves living here.”

Having a photographer’s eye, Erik was captivated by the architecture of his “new” hometown.

“At some point, perhaps around 2001, after continued viewings of the book (which has no captions on the pages) and repeated walks through town, including Ocean Pathway, I started to sense a correspondence between some of the book’s images of Victorian houses and some of my more immediate visual experience,” Erik says.

“Researching the captions that appear at the back of the book, I was surprised (and somehow not surprised) to find that an image of two adjacent Victorian homes was captioned ‘Ocean Grove, NJ, 1932.’

“A quick search through town led me back to Ocean Pathway, where I found those same two houses still standing and visually much the same as when they had been photographed by Walker Evans some 70 years earlier.

“I experienced that peculiar sensation of time compressing and expanding simultaneously.”

The other day, at the request of Blogfinger, Erik stood in the same spot where the famous photographer would have stood and photographed those same two houses.

The larger house, on the left, is 9 Ocean Pathway. It is owned by Greg Lotz of Montclair, NJ, and his sister, Ellen Smith. Greg, 52, and his sister grew up in Ocean Grove. “We’ve been in the house close to 30 years now,” he says. “My parents initially bought it.”

The mother and father of Greg’s wife, Sue, live in OG year-round in a house on the other side of Ocean Pathway, the south side.

Members of the Lotz family were not aware of the existence of Evans’ photo until we brought it to their attention. Greg’s and Sue’s son, Griffin, was especially interested because, as luck would have it, Griffin is majoring in photography at the University of Delaware. He has his own website at http://www.GriffLotzPhoto.com. And, by the way, there are some nice shots of Ocean Grove on that website.

A Word About Walker Evans:

Evans was born in 1903 and died in 1975. He was one of several American photographers of his generation — Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Robert Capa, Margaret Bourke-White and a few others — who defined photography as both a journalistic and an artistic medium. His Ocean Grove photo is not at all typical of his work. In fact, one wonders if it wasn’t just a throw-away shot that somehow found its way into a book years later.

Evans is best known for a series of portraits of Alabama tenant farmers taken in 1936 and published in the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a collaboration between Evans and the writer James Agee.

The woman shown here is Allie Mae Burroughs of Hale County, Alabama. This picture, one of Evans’ most famous, became a symbol of the Great Depression. The man in the second photo is Allie Mae’s husband, Floyd Burroughs, a cotton sharecropper.

Allie Mae Burroughs. Hale County, Alabama. By Walker Evans 1936

Floyd Burroughs and his daughter. Hale County, Alabama. 1936. By Walker Evans

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Front parlor: Tali-Esen sat at his grand piano (left side, by the windows) while Caruso stood in front of the fireplace. All photos by Paul Goldfinger

By Paul Goldfinger and Eileen Goldfinger (home, garden and food editor @Blogfinger)

1906 was a marvelous year for Ocean Grove and the Camp Meeting  Association.  The town attracted  huge crowds to the summer events.  Photographs of the era showed  wall to wall people at the beaches and bathing pavilions.  The Great Auditorium,  with its 10,000 seat capacity, was one of the first mega-churches, but it also was the home of  incredible musical events, with spectacular performances by stars such as John Phillip Sousa and Enrico Caruso.   A well known impresario named Tali Esen Morgan was the man responsible for these ambitious programs which included a children’s chorus of 1000 voices and a 63 piece orchestra.  He also was in the process of having the Hope-Jones organ installed in the GA— an important event in the town’s history. The organ made its debut in 1908.

Tali Essen Morgan was a man with big ideas who loved to entertain, and it was in 1906 that he built his magnificent  home at 51 Abbott Avenue on a double lot.  The design  reflected his grandiose personality.  It was one of the largest and most beautifully appointed homes in OG, with a layout  that was perfect for receiving guests.

Oral history tells us that in c. 1910,  Enrico Caruso, the famous tenor, was in town for a concert at the GA.  Prior to the event, a group of people gathered in the  Morgan  front parlor for a recital.  Morgan sat at the grand piano while Caruso sang in front of the fireplace.  Tali Esen Morgan knew many celebrities and, undoubtedly, many visited his OG summer mansion.  He was music director in the  Grove from 1901-1918.

Over the years, the house became a convalescent home and a guest house before reverting back to a single family .  In the 1930’s Helen Hayes stayed in one of the second floor rooms while she appeared on Broadway in “Victoria Regina” with Vincent Price.

In 2000, the home was purchased by Gayle and Ted Aanensen who filled the house with art, antiques and  Gayle’s extensive collections, especially of Beatrix  Potter memorabilia.  Ted was born in Ocean Grove,  and the couple is  active in the Historical Society.  Gayle is the secretary of the organization and she has written two children’s books about OG  history.  She says that her writing is “inspired” by the history of her home:  “I feel the energy in this house.”    Ted says,  “Part of our joy is to save the house for the next generation.”  He and Gayle plan to continue  their ongoing restoration.

We are featuring the downstairs which consists of the parlor, living room, dining room and kitchen.  Pocket doors separate the living room from the parlor. There is a butler’s pantry made of cypress.  All the windows, floors, moldings, stained glass and built-ins are original.  The kitchen was re-done by prior owners.

Mr. W. Ted Bell, Ocean Grove historian, says, “This home comes complete with a story and an exceptional design—outstanding for its form and function.” He admires the furnishings with “many wonderful things of the period.”  Mr. W. T. Bell says that the house  has characteristics of several periods including Victorian, Queen Ann and Craftsman.

View from the front parlor into the living room. To the left is a grand curved staircase with antique stained glass windows at the first level.

Coming down the stairs is the front door with this stained glass.

Living room

Dining room with original built-ins. Gayle’s collection of red glass souvenirs from Asbury and the Grove (not shown) reflects the light flowing into the DR.

Butler’s pantry connects the LR and the DR. Cypress woodwork has been stripped to its natural color.

We don’t know what Caruso sang during his recital in the Tali Esen Morgan front parlor, but here is Caruso as he might have sounded that day about one hundred years ago. From the Pearl Fishers (Les Pecheurs de Perles: “Mi par d’udir ancor.”)  It was composed by Georges Bizet.

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