Posts Tagged ‘91 Cookman Avenue’

Margaret Stickel on the porch of 91 Cookman, circa 1960

By Mary Walton, Blogfinger staff.  Re-posted from October, 2011.

Perhaps more than in most communities, the history of Ocean Grove lives in the hearts of families who have sunk deep roots in its sandy soil. For people like Paul Horn, a walk up Cookman Avenue is truly a trip down Memory Lane.

Some of his fondest childhood memories center on 91 Cookman, now a derelict house that has been prominently featured on Blogfinger’s pages. Earlier this year developer Jack Green purchased the house for the purpose of renovating it.

But for 41 years it was the home of Horn’s grandparents, John and Margaret Stickel, who bought it in 1924. Today Horn lives just down the street at 83 Cookman. Recently he and his wife, Loyce, and daughter, Cathy Cooper, reminisced about the family’s history.

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Paul Horn’s grandparents, John and Margaret Stickel, immigrated from Germany in 1890

John and Margaret Stickel immigrated around 1890 from the Black Forest section of Germany to Newark, where John became a brewmaster for Krueger Brewing Company. They had ten children. After Stickel retired they explored the Jersey shore by train. When they reached Ocean Grove, says Horn, “they just decided without a doubt that this was where they wanted to retire.”

As a child, Horn, now 87, often visited his grandparents. He remembers being sent to buy breakfast buns at Friedman’s Bakery on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park. When no older than eight or nine he liked to rise early and walk south on the boardwalk to Bradley Beach to watch fishermen haul their catch ashore in a craft that looked like a huge rowboat. The men would push the boat onto the beach, where it was hooked to a cable and towed in farther. The glittering fish were piled into a truck and taken to the ice house at Newark Avenue. The young boy found the sight of the boat deep with fish “amazing. My eyes popped just to see it.”

In a celebrated incident, now a staple of family lore, his grandfather John was swept up by a riptide and pronounced dead when pulled ashore. But a lifeguard refused to accept the verdict and pounded his chest until he drew a gasping breath. He lived another 15 years.

Says Cathy, “When my grandmother used to tell the story, at the end she always said the same thing. ‘And he had ice cream later in the day.’ ”

Margaret Stickel lived at 91 Cookman until 1965, when she moved to a nursing home and the family sold the house. Paul Horn’s mother, Frieda, a crack statistical typist, eventually moved to Mt. Hermon Way. Paul grew up to graduate from Yale and become a professor of psychology at Indiana State. But every summer he and Loyce would pack up the family station wagon and drive back to the Grove. They rented 83 Cookman before purchasing it in 1990.

Loyce Horn says that her daughters, Cathy and Holly, “spent every summer of their childhood in Ocean Grove. As soon as they graduated college, they moved to Ocean Grove. They married in Ocean Grove and they’re still in Ocean Grove.” (Sort of. Holly Horn, a professional violinist, lives in Manhattan but summers here and is the owner and director of the Ocean Grove Violin Academy. Cathy, a family therapist, lives in Neptune City.)

As 91 Cookman became, in Horn’s word, “horrible,” he and his wife would look away when they passed the house. Now, with renovation underway, they fantasize about keeping it in the family. (Green plans to sell it after he’s done with the renovation.)

A few days ago Paul Horn walked up to the house, where a dumpster is now parked in front. His grandmother used to call the verdant side yard her “outdoor living room.” He pointed to the dilapidated second-floor porch. “That’s where my cousin had his hammock.”

The memories live still.

Today: The Stickels’ great granddaughter, Cathy Cooper, and her dad, Paul Horn, on the porch of the old house. Photo by Mary Walton

MUSIC by Charley Pride:

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91 Cookman

1. After various delays, builder Jack Green is resuming work on the restoration of the long-neglected house at 91 Cookman Avenue. Green said he received a building permit from the Township on Wednesday, which clears the way for the rehab. He bought the derelict property last summer for the purpose of restoring it to something resembling its original condition, and then reselling it. “I would hope to have it on the market the early part of next year,” Green told us on Wednesday. The house is classified as one of Ocean Grove’s “key structures,” meaning it has special architectural significance. Before Green acquired it, it had suffered such damage from weather and neglect that many feared it might have to be demolished. (For previous stories on this house, type “91 cookman” in the search field at the top right corner of this page.)

Kirk Cameron

2. On Friday at the Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove United is planning a quiet and peaceful protest of the appearance by anti-gay celebrity Kirk Cameron. Cameron’s scheduled appearance and OGU’s opposition have been the subject of controversy recently, particularly in certain Christian and gay media outlets. (Google his name and “Ocean Grove” to find them.) OGU began urging the Camp Meeting Association to withdraw its invitation to Cameron following a March 2 interview on CNN, during which he said homosexuals were “destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” While refusing to disinvite Cameron, the CMA has said it does not expect him to disparage gays and lesbians during his appearances here. Cameron is scheduled to speak on Friday evening and again on Sunday morning, on the topic of traditional marriage.

3. Here are some street parking changes: Ocean Grove will soon be adding a new handicapped parking space on the north side of Abbott Avenue 93 feet east of the intersection of Abbott and New Jersey. At the same time, the handicapped space near the corner of Abbott and Lawrence Avenues will be eliminated. Also, a 35-foot loading zone will be added on the east side of Ocean Avenue beginning 60 feet south of the intersection of Ocean Avenue and westbound Ocean Pathway. The Township Committee is scheduled to approve these changes at its next meeting.

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91 Cookman Avenue. Photos taken on June 27 by Charles Layton

By Charles Layton

Local builder and realtor Jack Green says he’s hoping to get a building permit soon that will allow renovations to proceed at 91 Cookman Avenue.

“I think we’re close, within a week or so,” he said on Sunday.

This will come as welcome news to neighbors who have worried and complained for more than a decade about this neglected and dilapidated old house.

It’s been a year since Green purchased it and promised to rehab it – to the great relief of these neighbors. Although he had said he expected to have it reconstructed and on the market by this summer, that has not happened.

Neighbors told me recently that the house had been badly neglected all through the spring. “It became worse and worse,” said Doris Jaeger. “The windows have been wide open,” said Anita Meeks. “The front and back doors, 90 percent of the time since [Green] bought it, have been open.” Evelyn Silla said animals were invading the place. “It’s a squirrel’s paradise.”

Windows and doors have been left open for many weeks, neighbors say

Meeks gave me a walking tour around the house, showing me how it was being left open to the elements.

“I was thrilled when I heard Jack Green had bought [the house] because there’s nobody else in Ocean Grove who could fix that up,” Jaeger said. “But he’s lost heart in the project, obviously, because he’s just letting it hang there.”

“He’s a class act,” said Silla, “and I just wish he would move in here and rehab this.”

When I spoke with Green on Sunday, he told me the doors and windows are now secured, and he thinks plywood is covering the holes in the roof. He said the building permit had been held up because the Township needed to see more detailed plans from his architect, Kate Comerford. He also said he had been talking to some people who had shown a possible interest in purchasing the house from Green and following his rehab plan, which has been approved by the Historic Preservation Commission.

This past winter Green had clashed with the HPC over details of his rehab proposal. But in the end Green and the HPC came to terms, and HPC chairwoman Deborah Osepchuk called the resulting plan “a home run.”

The house is one of a handful of derelict properties that have caused concern in Ocean Grove in recent years. It was built in the 1890s and is considered one of the Historic District’s “key structures,” meaning it has been listed in Neptune’s Master Plan as having special historical and architectural importance.

The place has been uninhabited and in disrepair since a fire broke out in an upstairs bedroom 13 years ago.

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1. Effective March 1, Neptune Township Public Works will no longer collect e-waste curbside. All computers, monitors, laptops, TVs, servers, printers, stereos, VCRs, DVDs, cell phones and other such devices will have to be dropped off at the Neptune Township Recycling Center, which is at 2201 Heck Avenue. Public Works Director Wayne Rode, in an email announcement, said the policy change was “to protect our workers and the public from recycling thieves, who are breaking into electronic items at the curb and leaving behind what may be considered a hazardous waste.” The Recycling Center will only accept TVs and computer monitors, Rodes said, if the picture tube is not smashed and is still intact with all components. “Scrap parts from dismantled TVs/monitors, computers etc. are not eligible for the Neptune Township E-Waste Recycling Program,” he said.

2. The notoriously dilapidated house at 91 Cookman Avenue should be completely restored and ready to go on sale in about six months. So says Jack Green, the builder who purchased it last June. Green got the Historic Preservation Commission’s blessing this week to proceed with the work. “Hopefully we can submit plans [to the Township] in about two to three weeks,” he said on Friday. Once he gets a building permit, he said, it will probably take another five months or so to finish the job. “Jack’s plans include restoring all original elements when possible and replicating those that are beyond help,” said Deborah Osepchuk, who chairs the HPC. “There will be an addition added to the rear in place of the sheds currently there.” Although the HPC had balked at a previous proposal, submitted by Green in November, this week’s revised plan met with approval. “All in all, a home run,” Osepchuk said. The house, which dates back at least to 1891, is considered one of Ocean Grove’s “key structures,” which means it is of special architectural and historic significance.

3. Ocean Grovers Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster had their pictures on the front page of the Asbury Park Press on Friday. The photo shows them in Trenton, applauding passage of the state gay marriage bill. Bernstein and Paster are co-chairs of Ocean Grove United. To see the photo online, go here.

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Burned upstairs bedroom

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.

Until now.

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.

Two Jacks on the porch at 91 Cookman Avenue

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.

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