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The Great Auditorium. By Paul Goldfinger ©

The great doors at the Great Auditorium  (1894).  By Paul Goldfinger © 2013.  Click to enlarge; Posted on Blogfinger in 2014.

 

Ticket to Rossini's Stabat Mater 1903.

Ticket to Rossini’s Stabat Mater 1903.

 

 

STANLEY TURRENTINE (tenor sax:)     “Then I’ll be Tired of You.”    By Arthur Schwartz and Yip Harburg.   Harburg, the lyricist, also wrote the words to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

 

“You look at me and wonder, you look at me and doubt,
Darling your eyes are asking, “Will the flame burn out?”
Well, no one is sure of sun shine, no one is sure of dawn,
But I am sure my love will live on and on.…”

 

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Ocean Grove: Can we keep it? Paul Goldfinger photograph along the edges of Wesley Lake/Lake Avenue. © Undated  Click to enlarge.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net.  This repost is from 2017, but still relevant in 2020.

Probably the biggest complaint about the HPC relates to its inconsistencies.  For example, a Grover couple owns a large Victorian home that they have tried to maintain with great attention to its historic attributes.   It is actually a Victorian showplace.  Up in back of their house there is a staircase ascending to an access at the second floor.  They wanted to put a fairly small deck up there.  It would be barely visible from the street and would improve the couple’s life-style.  But the HPC refused the request on the grounds that such a structure was not historic.

Yet around the Grove there are all sorts of porches and decks that have been added. Just take a walk and you can see them.  If you were a prospective home buyer here, you might look around and think that such decks are historic.

We had one on the second floor, in the rear, of our Centennial Home on Heck Avenue.   If I tried to build that from scratch, it might (or might not) be approved. The HPC is unpredictable.  Another person we know  was given permission to put up a deck just like the rejected couple’s.

Double standards by the HPC  (as with their parental  group, the Township Committee) are toxic to good will and lifestyles in this town.

But if some of you are shocked, shocked that we might have double standards at the HPC, consider this:

And, speaking of astonishing double standards, consider the photo below:

HPC approved this “historic design” on Ocean Avenue in a fairly conspicuous location. Blogfinger photograph. ©

The funny thing about this building is that locals and visitors find it to be amusing.  So, thanks to the HPC, we have a giant conversation piece that is famous not for its Victorian architecture, but as a sort of joke; and the HPC has become the straight man for this humorous offering which does nothing for our town’s reputation and designation as an example of  historic preservation.  And rumor has it that the HPC allowed a historic roof top pool, something Rev. Stokes himself would have been shocked over.

One sport in town is to provide it with ironic nicknames.  For example, one person in the Grove calls it “An Ode to Cement.”   We call it the “Greek Temple.”  Somebody else refers to it as “The Bank.”

So let’s find out how many nicknames exist for this building and we will send the list to the HPC so that they can frame it.   Send your suggestions to Blogfinger as a comment  (click below right.)

 

DOOLEY WILSON  from Casablanca   “As time goes by.”

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June, 2018 note:  This article was originally published on Blogfinger in August 2009, only two months after the blog’s e-birth. Needless to say, we had few visitors back then.  The story of the Ocean Grove “gates” is pivotal in the history of this town and  should be re-told occasionally so that those who are unfamiliar with the details can gain some perspective as they view life in the Grove now.  We re-posted it  in 2011, 2016, 2018, and then again now in 2020.

By Paul Goldfinger, M.D.   Editor @Blogfinger.net.

 

The year is 1875, and the Camp Meeting Association’s first President, Rev. E.H. Stokes said, regarding the gate closure on Sunday, “There is no human probability that these rules will ever be revoked.”  That same year, the President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, came to Ocean Grove on a Sunday.  A wooden picket fence with a swing gate blocked his way at the entrance to town, and he had to leave his horses and carriage and walk one half mile to his sister’s house on Wesley Lake. Then he went on to the open air auditorium, where 5,000 adults, children and Civil War veterans waited for his arrival.

Of all the “blue laws,” the ban on parking of all-wheeled vehicles and the ban on driving such vehicles into town, from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday, was the one that seemed to best define the spirit of those Christians who came to Ocean Grove each summer for the chance to relax with their families and to praise God in a most unique environment. Only police, fire, doctors’ cars, and ambulance units could enter and leave.

Ocean Grove gates-1 - Version 2

In 1916 two stone pillars were erected, and a chain was used to prevent access into the town’s two entrances. A policeman would be in charge of opening and closing the “gates” and he would remain stationed in a little gate house at the Main Avenue entrance. That little house still stands. On Sunday nights, before midnight, a festive atmosphere would prevail, until the officer on duty allowed the folks to drive back into the Grove.

Some people moved to town just because of those Sunday rules, and, for most of those who lived in Ocean Grove, part time or full time, they totally supported the idea of Sundays free of noise, clutter, and secular distractions.  They didn’t care that they could not go to the beach, play ball, garden, smoke, play cards, drink alcohol, dance, buy food, mow the lawn, hammer a nail or even ride a bike. To them it was unthinkable that this rule might be abolished, because they thought that if it ever happened, Ocean Grove would never be the same.

Ocean Grove had received a charter from the State of New Jersey in 1870, which allowed the Camp Meeting Association to govern the town, including making laws (ordinances) and enforcing those laws with their own police department and municipal court.  The CMA governed in Ocean Grove, while the homeowners paid property taxes to Neptune Township. Ocean Grove received some services from Neptune, but Neptune considered the Grove to be a sort of private estate or gated community and thus they expected Ocean Grove to be somewhat self sufficient, even though Grovers paid full taxes. This tension between Neptune and Ocean Grove regarding taxes and obligations would be a point of recurrent stress for many years to the present.

As time went by, it became apparent that there were those in town who were not so enamored by the blue laws or by the CMA governance. Periodically there would be arguments about this, and in 1921, there actually was a secular Borough of Ocean Grove that lasted one year. After that, there was a suit, and the courts returned the town to the CMA over the issue of the “blue laws.”

In 1975, a lawsuit emerged and eventually made its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1977. It was brought by The Ocean Grove News Service which wanted to be able to enter the town for one hour each Sunday at 2 am in order to deliver the Asbury Park Press. For years, the CMA had made an exception for those deliveries, but they tightened the rules so the deliveries were blocked, and the News Service sued.

The NJ Supreme Court went beyond the suit and considered the question of how a religious organization could govern a town, but they eventually decided to avoid church vs. state issues and, instead, they made a narrow ruling, based on “freedom of the press,” that allowed the newspaper deliveries to take place. The vote was 4-3.  The three in the minority would have taken governance away from the CMA. The ruling did not abolish the chains or change the authority of the CMA, other than in a one hour lowering of the barrier, once per week.

Just as that controversy quieted, another storm blew into town. A man named Louis Celmer, Jr., of Belmar, was arrested by the Ocean Grove Police for drunk driving. He was convicted in the Ocean Grove Court, but he sued in 1977 on the grounds that the court was illegal. The judge in the Monmouth County Court agreed that the OG court was unconstitutional and reversed the Celmer conviction and the Sunday closings.

The chains were temporarily taken down pending appeals, causing confrontations at the gates that summer, with people blocking traffic and setting up lawn chairs in the streets. At one point, according to a police officer who was there, a near riot ensued. Since the judge had thrown out the CMA rules, Neptune Township tried to help the CMA by approving an ordinance which banned parking in Ocean Grove on Sundays. So you could drive into town, but since you couldn’t park, you had to keep driving, or leave.

In 1978, The New Jersey Superior Court ruled that the OG Court was constitutional and they reversed the Monmouth County decision. The chains were now lawful once again. Many people became interested in the issues at stake. Letters to the editors of the APP from ministers, priests and even a rabbi encouraged support for the Sunday rules. It was said that 90% of Ocean Grovers wanted the ban to continue.

In 1979, the Celmer case was appealed again and went to the New Jersey Supreme Court. This time the composition of the court was different compared to the 1977 case.

On June 21, 1979, the situation in Ocean Grove was changed forever. The court voted 7-0 and said, “The 1870 charter is unconstitutional and of no force and effect.”   The ruling stated, “The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the United Methodist Church can be delegated neither the power to manage public highways or other public property, the power to make laws, nor the power to enforce Board rules through establishment of a police department and municipal court. These functions must hence forth be exercised by the governing body of Neptune Township, of which Ocean Grove forms a part.”

The court expressed its admiration for the CMA and its goals in Ocean Grove. The ruling said, “This way of life need not be abandoned on account of today’s decision. The Association may continue to adopt rules which it deems necessary to protect Ocean Grove’s unique cultural and spiritual characteristics. The inhabitants of Ocean Grove and indeed all others who so choose, remain free to voluntarily abide by those rules.”

Rev. Harold Flood, President of the CMA, said on June 28, 1979, in the Ocean Grove Record, that the CMA ordinances were no longer enforceable. He referred to the “former ban on Sunday driving and parking” and he asked that Ocean Grovers cooperate. He said, “The best we can do is to obey the law, and the law says our gates are open.”  The CMA Board then voted to take down the chains permanently.

But in the Asbury Park Press, Rev. Flood was quoted as saying that the parking ban would continue, because it is enforced as a Neptune ordinance approved by the State.  So the CMA, in collaboration with Neptune Township, tried to continue the Sunday ban by disguising it as a parking ordinance. The plan was to keep the “gates” open, but have the Neptune Police enforce the Sunday parking ordinance.*

That strategy would not work, because a group of Ocean Grove citizens, led by Mr. Joseph Krimko (subsequently the Mayor of Neptune Township) and Mr. Art Liotti, raised money and sued on the grounds that the Neptune ordinance was illegal. The case was decided in appellate court, and the ordinance was thrown out “three zip” as Mr. Krimko described it, in a recent interview with Blogfinger. When asked why he and his colleagues brought the suit, he said, “It was the right thing to do.”

So the chains came down permanently, and Ocean Grove did not fall into the sea. It did not wind up like other religious towns, including Ocean Grove, Australia, which was founded by the same Rev. Osborn who founded Ocean Grove, New Jersey. The Australian town no longer attracts Methodists. It is now a magnet for surfers.

Today, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, some people still come because they love the spirituality of the town. It still is a traditional place, especially on Sunday, and the Camp Meeting Association continues its religious mission with great vigor. The CMA activities, the Victorian architecture and the town’s history all add to that special “flavor” which is still present and which suggests a place from 100 years ago.

The entrance to OG is now largely a symbol of freedom as seen in this photograph of Dec. 2017. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

 

Changing demographics have contributed considerable diversity and a secular tone which add zest to the mix.  Now  (2020), in the town’s 151  year, it remains a one-of-a-kind special place to live in and visit, with elements of both the old and the new complementing each other.

 

Acknowledgments:  Mr. Ted Bell (Ocean Grove historian and author), Mr. Joseph Krimko  (former Ocean Grove Police officer and Neptune Mayor), Mr. Joseph Bennett (former Neptune Township Clerk), staff at Asbury Park Library and Neptune Township Library, and  “The Other Side of Ocean Grove” by Mr. Ted David.

Historical note:  We had some difficulty establishing the exact date in 1979 or 1980, when the chains came down permanently. The written materials and oral histories were unclear on this point. My best guess would be June 1979, after the Supreme Court ruling, but there were some indications that the chains were up and down a few more times into 1980, before they permanently left town.   —-PG

*Editor’s note: 2018.  Regarding that peculiar collaboration between Neptune Township and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association in 1980, a collaboration designed to ignore the freedom ruling of the N.J. Supreme Court and constrain the citizens and visitors in OG, it reminds me of the current collaboration of the CMA and the Township regarding  the plan to turn the North End of OG into Asbury Park South—something that is not in the best interest of the citizens of this town.

What else has that partnership accomplished in the past for the “benefit” of those who live here?

That list includes the condoization of the Grove producing over 300 condo units, mostly without parking.  And the latest is the obscene granting of a use variance without justification and outside the NJ land use laws to allow a developer to turn the Aurora Hotel into 4 condominiums in a single family zone.

This arrogant action was delivered by the Neptune Township Zoning Board of Adjustment in 2018, in plain sight, and without any apologies to the citizens of Ocean Grove.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

BROADWAY CAST OF HAMILTON   “Raise a Glass to Freedom—The Story of Tonight”

 

 

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

(This piece is re-posted. It was first presented on Blogfinger in July, 2014.)

It was Saturday night, July 18, 1925, at 8:15 p.m., when vocalist Paul Robeson and his accompanist Lawrence Brown strode onto the stage of the Great Auditorium to present a concert of “Soul Stirring Negro Spirituals” (1)  to an integrated audience of three thousand people. Mr. Robeson, an imposing black man, was twenty seven years old. He was already famous as a screen and stage actor as well as a singer.  He was a true Renaissance man who would become one of the most popular performing artists of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Robeson, who was born (1898) and raised in New Jersey, was an All-American football player and Phi Beta Kappa at Rutgers University and an honors graduate of the Columbia University Law School. As a college student, Robeson was friends with the Day family who owned Day’s Ice Cream “Gardens” in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. He had a summer job as a singing waiter at Day’s. (3)  When he came to Ocean Grove for his 1925 concert, he had just completed a triumphant run at The Provincetown Theatre in New York, where he performed the lead role in Eugene O’Neill’s “All God’s Children Got Wings.”

He had friends at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City, and it was there, with the encouragement of his colleagues, that he decided to do a concert tour with an entire program of “Negro” spirituals and secular songs also known as “slave or plantation music.” This would be the first time that this music would be performed in concert, and he would appear with his close friend Lawrence Brown, also an African-American, who was a gifted composer, pianist and singer. The two would work together for thirty years. The first stop on the tour was The Greenwich Village Theatre in New York City, and then, three months later, he appeared in Ocean Grove.

The concert was reviewed by the Asbury Park Press, which said, “Robeson showed an intelligent appreciation of his task and a splendid voice.” They called him “a talented son of this state” and they described “great applause” in the Auditorium. Among the songs which he and Lawrence Brown sang were “Go Down Moses,” “Weepin’ Mary” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

The following month he performed his concert in Spring Lake. They would tour for five years, all over the world, with this program. Later, Robeson would become the third most popular radio artist in the USA in the 20’s and 30’s. In the 1940’s he was the highest paid concert performer in the country and he was also successful as a recording artist. He would sing in the first production of “Showboat” and he would play Othello on Broadway and in England. He would star in eleven movies.

But his visit to OG that night was not only about music; it was also about recognition of African American culture and the elevation of that folk music to high art. In addition, Robeson always was about hope for African Americans, and performing that music was his way to offer pride and encouragement to his people. In 2004, when Barack Obama gave his “Audacity of Hope” speech at the Democratic convention, the first example he cited was, “…the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs.”

images-5

Robeson would accomplish much in his life, but his greatest contribution would be his tireless and life-long advocacy for civil rights. In 1925, Martin Luther King wasn’t born yet, and the “civil rights movement” would not begin until the 1950’s. Imagine how much courage was required for a black man to step forward publicly on behalf of racial justice at a time when lynchings were still occurring in this country. In 1921 a race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma resulted in the deaths of 20 whites and 60 blacks. In 1922, an anti-lynching bill was defeated by filibuster in the US Senate. In 1925, the year of the concert, there were 17 reported lynchings in the US. Jim Crow laws could be found in many states, but Paul Robeson pressed for racial justice wherever he went and for his entire life.

Robeson had been “eagerly” (1) looking forward to his concert in The Great Auditorium. It is likely that he was aware that many “extraordinary African Americans” (2) had appeared there in the past, including the famous Marian Anderson (1921),  Booker T Washington (1908), the singing evangelist Amanda Berry Smith (late 1800’s) and many renowned black  preachers. The Ocean Grove Historical Society has documented the African American History Trail in our town. (2)

In 1998, the Ocean Grove Historical Society celebrated the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s birth by a day-long commemoration featuring lectures, dance, a book signing and an exhibition. The centerpiece of the program was a re-creation of the 1925 concert in the Auditorium. They brought the noted African American bass Kevin Maynor, who used the original program and reproduced the concert from 73 years earlier. This remarkable event was made possible by a committee of Ocean Grovers led by Rhoda Newman (chairman), Kevin Chambers, Phillip May, Jr., and others.

Paul Robeson’s contributions have been recognized many times in the form of tributes at Carnegie Hall and NJPAC, plus many articles, books, exhibits and documentaries. He is a part of Ocean Grove’s musical heritage which includes Enrico Caruso, Duke Ellington, John Phillip Sousa, and Pearl Bailey (2). Paul Robeson died in 1976 at age 77. Five thousand people attended the funeral in Harlem.

Paul Robeson sings “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” from The Complete EMI Sessions 1928-1939, remastered 2008.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

1. Asbury Park Press Archives (Asbury Park Library)

2. Ocean Grove Historical Society Archives (Ms. Rhoda Newman)

3. Mr. Kevin Chambers, Ocean Grove Historian

4. Ocean Grove Times Archives (Neptune Township Library: Mrs. Marian R.Bauman, Director)

 

 

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New York Times, August 28, 1905.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net.  Re-post from  Blogfinger 2012. From our Department of Historical Perspective.

In the newspaper article above, from the August 28, 1905 New York Times, we get an idea about how wild it could get at the old camp ground in Ocean Grove, only 36 years after the town’s founding. The event was called a “love feast,” and the article clearly describes what that term means.  You might  have imagined that services in the GA in 1905 were pretty staid affairs, but now we know that they were anything but.

Some parts of the description seem peculiar like singing three hymns all at once.  I wonder what the orchestra did with that situation.

Amanda Berry Smith was a former slave who became an evangelical preacher. She was known for her beautiful voice.  We don’t have any recordings of her, but here is a Sam Cooke recording  (with the Soul Stirrers) of  “I’m So Glad (Trouble don’t  last always):”

And if you think that church services were all they did in the Great Auditorium in 1905, one month before the Love Feast, President Theodore Roosevelt spoke to the Convention of the National Education Association on July 7, 1905.  A photo shows a full house. Not only was the place packed, but there were “throngs’ outside including soldiers and military bands.  The President gave the closing speech.   Behind him were the massed Festival Chorus and the Ocean Grove Orchestra.  After he finished, they performed the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah”.

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Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger reporter and staff historian. ©

Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger reporter and staff historian. ©

This post is from August 4, 2014 on Blogfinger:

Paul:

So many voices over the years have performed at the Great Auditorium.   On August 12, 1908, Ocean Grove welcomed a performance of an American operatic contralto star named Louise Homer.  She had an active international career in concert halls and opera houses from 1895 until her retirement in 1932.  She was also a member of the Metropolitan Opera in the years 1900-1919.  I put together the attachment above that has a photo of her plus various priced tickets.

Wonder if she sung a short tune at Days afterwards?

From Rich Amole, Blogfinger staff.

Editor’s note: During the years of Ocean Grove’s famed music director Tali  Esen Morgan, many great names appeared in the Great Auditorium.  He built a grand house on Abbott Avenue in 1906,  and around 1910, he entertained Enrico Caruso who put on a bit of a concert in Morgan’s front parlor. We wrote about that house and about that impromptu concert.  Here is the link:

Caruso in the Grove

It’s interesting that Rich Amole sent us these tickets which provide for seating in the gallery and the main floor.  Curiously, the brochure above refers to the “Grand Auditorium.”   That must have been a goofy misunderstanding, because the Auditorium, which was built in 1894, was just called the “Auditorium” at first and for many years.     Then a big sign on the roof said “Ocean Grove Auditorium,” and it remained up there until it was falling apart and was removed, but not replaced, in 1979.

According to Wayne T. Bell, Jr, Cindy L. Bell, and Darrell A. Dufresne, authors of  The Great Auditorium—Ocean Grove’s Architectural Treasure  (2012,)  “It took awhile” for the name “Great Auditorium” to take hold.  The authors  reviewed many sources dating back over 100 years to find out that it was in recent times, perhaps the 1970’s, that the name “Great Auditorium” became official, especially after the PR people got hold of it.

As for Louise Homer, she was a huge star in the opera world, making her debut at the Met. in 1900, performing in Aida.  For 19 consecutive seasons she played the “Met” opposite Caruso and other greats of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Here is an old recording of Louise Homer singing with Enrico Caruso and Marcel Journet in the opera Samson et Dalila.  The year was around 1920.  They are singing in French about celebrating a victory. I hope it’s not the scene where she cuts off his hair—–so sad;  I hate that part.    Rich Amole owns these tickets now, having acquired them on Ebay from some Grovers, but if he thinks he can go to the concert, sorry Rich, but you are a little late.    —-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

 

 

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Photo by Rich Amole @Blogfinger.

Photo by Rich Amole @Blogfinger.  2014

By Rich Amole, Blogfinger history reporter/researcher.

Paul:

“The best type of snow is the one that doesn’t need to be shoveled.  Above  is a real cool Snow Globe with the Great Auditorium inside.  Snow Globes were designed to be paper weights but ended up being more of a collectible item of places visited.

Originally of European origin, they crossed the Atlantic in the 1920’s with the first patented one in the late 1920’s in the USA.  Some of these marvelous items have music boxes attached.   I could venture a guess on when this one was manufactured, but perhaps a reader may fill us in or even own one.

CINCINNATI POPS:   “Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago.

 

 

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Joy Adase in 2014 when she joined the garden tour. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

Since Christmas is such a happy holiday, we decided to re-post this article from August, 2018, in Ocean Grove.  Ultimately, for those of us who live here, the main focus becomes our homes and life-styles in this historic town.

Here is a story of a Heck Avenue family showing off the home of their dreams.–Paul  @Blogfinger.net

 

Four years ago (2014), Joy and Mike Adase found their OG home on Heck Avenue.  They sold their 5 bedroom house in Howell, downsized their stuff, and moved into a historic  (1885)  two-story, 2 bedroom,  1200 square foot Ocean Grove cottage at #97  What-the-Heck Avenue.

Here is a link to an article we posted about the Adases in 2014 when they were newcomers:

New Grover in town. What the Heck.

Since they have been here full time, they have been  “in love” with the town of Ocean Grove and with their unique home.

So this year, the Adases decided to join the house tour, sponsored by the Historical Society of OG, which was held on Friday, August 3, 2018.  During the tour, Mike and Joy got out of the way and visited one of their favorite spots:  New Hope, Pa.

Joy said that it was a lot of work to get her home just right for the tour, but she is happy to “share”  her  home with visitors;  the more, the merrier.  “I feel blessed to live in this beautiful town and in this home,” said Joy. Now that it’s over, she says, “I’m glad we did it.”

Docent Joanne greets visitors on the porch. Note the original metal awning. 8/3/18.  All photographs by Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net.

There were 8 homes on the tour, and many visitors, mostly women in groups of 2-4, were happily making the rounds.

The house was on display with five docents providing a lively tour.  Joanne, a neighbor, was greeting visitors on the porch. She pointed out the original metal awning overhead, which is rare in the Grove. The original doorbell is rung by twisting a knob.

Docent Mike explains the front parlor. Blogfinger photos © 8/3/18

Inside was another neighbor Mike who says he loves to chat, so being a docent is right up his alley, and this is the third year he is doing it.  He used the joke-of-the-day with every visitor, pointing out the “one butt staircase” heading to the master bedroom.

Visiting the living room. Blogfinger is seen in the mirror photographing.

On the second floor was Colleen, another neighbor.  She repeated the butt joke.  (awright awready with the butt jokes!)

Docent Colleen at the top of the staircase (room enough for one tush at a time)

Having neighbors conduct the tour offered an extra dimension of enthusiasm  as Colleen allowed visitors to poke their heads into the bathroom.

Of course, the whole house was lovely and spotless.  We met some visitors from out of town including: Pennsylvania, Ramsey and Midland Park.  Visitors to the Grove are well familiar with the exteriors of our homes, but to tour the interiors is quite a special experience especially for house voyeurs.

Docent Marty in the Serenity Garden. Blogfinger photo 8/3/18 ©

Outside was Marty who was enjoying showing the Serenity Garden.  This is another of those OG gardens that are quite special in small spaces.  She pointed out the grape vines growing on the side fence and the popcorn plant along the edge of the house.  Pick a piece and smell it to experience the Jersey Shore popcorn aroma.

The next day Joy relaxed on her porch, sipping from her Christmas cup,  happily reviewing the tour with Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net. 8/4/18

MARIA MULDAUR:

 

 

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Version 2

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

This article from 2017 is being re-posted because it not only addresses the issue of placing a drug rehab center in the Grove, but it also is about the risks of forgetting our historic designations and about the importance of vigilance by the citizens of OG.

The agreement between the owner of the Laingdon Hotel on Ocean Avenue and the Sprout Health Co. was evidently decided upon last summer.  The plan was to open a drug rehabilitation facility in that historic hotel after getting a use-variance from the Neptune Board of Adjustment. Essential to those best laid plans was the need  to close the hotel to the public and to use it to house addicted individuals who would stay there for up to 30 days while undergoing treatment at the Sprout clinic in Eatontown.

Most Grovers who weighed in on Blogfinger were opposed for a variety of reasons. An intelligent discussion ensued, and there were no personal attacks–just identification of the issues.   No one disparaged those unfortunate patients who would have been candidates to stay in the OG facility. No one got to attack the owner for wanting to make a profit on his investment or the company whose business is to help others.

It’s just that the people of Ocean Grove did not believe that such a project would be suitable in our town for a variety of well considered reasons.

This was not a blind case of “not in our backyard.”  Not every town is appropriate for setting up shelters for the unfortunate.   I doubt you would find a drug rehab facility in Colonial Williamsburg, but that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t be located in a town nearby.      The citizens of  Ocean Grove would likely  be supportive of such a project in a neighboring town where the fit would be more sensible.

Importantly, the discussion of the Laingdon did allow the consideration of a bigger picture:    Ocean Grove is vulnerable to the conversion of historic buildings into uses that do not fit our Master Plan or the designation of our town on the National and State Historic Registers.  It’s work to keep those designations, and  “if you don’t use it, you will lose it.”  If the Laingdon idea had been implemented, then a dangerous precedent would have given permission to approve all sorts of decidedly non-historic projects that would change our town forever.  Now perhaps such projects would be discouraged.

The Laingdon opposition is only one piece of a town-wide effort which will be required to avoid more condominiums and commercialization while pushing for continued development as a single family residential/historic community.

There is a need for a group of citizens to dedicate themselves to be watchdogs on behalf of the town of Ocean Grove.  It will require standing up to Neptune Township politicians, developers, and to the derelict  HOA to beat back the anti- RSIS crowd.

Vigilance is the key word in the future,  because other mice and men with big plans will try to nibble away at this very special town, turning it into Asbury Park south or Bradley-Beach-By-the Sea.  Even Sprout might show up again with a renewed application.

Just because the Laingdon plan has caved, doesn’t mean that we should not keep watching and discussing how to protect the Grove.  After all, it all depends on you.

FRANK SINATRA from The Columbia Years.

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Tourism of the historical kind---the kind to be encouraged in our historic town. Paul Goldfinger photo @ Blogfinger .net.

Tourism of the historical kind—the kind to be encouraged in our 19th century historic town. Paul Goldfinger photo @ Blogfinger.net.

 

HUGH JACKMAN.  “Don’t throw your past away; you might need it some rainy day.”    From The Boy From Oz:

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