Posts Tagged ‘ocean grove derelict houses’

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.

margaret-john-stickel-2 (1)

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:

Read Full Post »

80 Main 2010. Blogfinger derelict photo

80 Main 2010. Blogfinger derelict photo

We showed a broken down house in the Bahamas   (scroll down) which provoked a comment from I.M. Radar who said, “Definitely a candidate for the DBC  (Derelict Building Committee.) And what is the Homeowners Association doing about its well-established list of documented disasters in OG?”

Then Ken responded,  “This was discussed in great detail at last night’s Township Committee meeting.

“An OG resident aggressively questioned the Township Attorney about the lack of action by the Township on the multiple violations “some since 2011″ outstanding against 80 MAIN AVE, which every visitor sees coming into the Business District. ( I found a 2001 violation letter written by a code enforcement official for the wooden stairs built on the west side without permit or HPC approval; the stairs are still there). His answer was inadequate and subject to verification.

“She then asked why the Committee had not submitted for CLG (Certified Local Government) designation which would enable requesting grant money for the problem of the “50 and more houses” she counted as derelict. A Committeeman’s response was, (to be polite), “unreal”; blaming a lack of information of “what designates a building as historic?” and “lack of a required windshield survey”…; you had to be there listening. [Audio tapes to the Committee Meetings are available].

“Not a Public Comment segment Neptune can be proud to have on the record.”


Editor’s Note:  So there you have it ladies and germs.   If any of you want to jump into this derelict mayhem, just click on the comments below.  Radar asks a relevant question considering that the aforementioned derelict committee hasn’t posted a thing since last summer regarding the situation.  So what the hey?   —PG




Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

By Charles Layton

The unoccupied and run-down house at 78 South Main Street remains a problem for Neptune Township and Ocean Grove.

The owner, Eve Annenberg of New York City, was back in Municipal Court on Thursday. Her lawyer argued that Annenberg was short of money and that she should be given credit for having done some painting and other needed repairs. Township Attorney Gene Anthony said the Township had given her enough breaks already and that the work she had done was not enough.

Last April the Township cited Annenberg for code violations. In June she pleaded guilty, was fined $500 and agreed to bring the property up to code standards within 30 days. In October the Township had her back in court, where her attorney told Judge Robin Wernik that she had been undergoing chemo treatments for cancer and had been distracted. Wernik fined her another $350 on that occasion and gave her 60 days to make repairs.

This Thursday she drew another $400 fine from Wernik and was given three months to make all needed repairs. Anthony told me that if she does not live up to this latest court order within the three-month time limit, “new complaints will be filed and there will be no suspension of fines.”

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

By Charles Layton

It’s been 29 months since Neptune Township cited the owner of the unoccupied house at 24 McClintock Street for maintenance violations, including rotted porch posts, broken windows and lack of paint.


It’s been eight months since the Historic Preservation Commission noticed that none of those repairs had been made and asked the Township to revisit the problem. It’s also been eight months since 29 neighbors, in a signed petition, told Township officials they feared the place could catch fire and cause a conflagration.


It’s been a little over seven months since the owner, Jason Richelson of Brooklyn, NY, paid a $1,000 fine in Municipal Court and promised to remedy all of the cited problems by Christmas week of 2011.


It’s been a month and a half since Richelson reneged on that court agreement. The neighbors said he had made no repairs at all, not even replacing the broken window panes.

The front porch as it looked on Monday afternoon. Photos by Charles Layton

However, Lynn Merry, the organizer of the neighbors’ petition, looked across the street last Friday and saw a guy from Sawbucks Construction replacing broken window panes. “This was the first human sighting I have seen at the property for three years,” she said.

I dropped by on Monday and found the Sawbucks man prying out rusted nails in order to remove rotten boards on the front porch. He told me he intended to fix the porch, and that he’d probably keep working for at least a few more days, but that he didn’t know what the owner’s eventual plans might be.

Richelson is due for another court hearing on Thursday of next week, at which time the Township’s attorney, Gene Anthony, has said he intends to ask the Municipal Court judge to declare Richelson in default of his June plea agreement, impose another $1,000 fine and perhaps take further action. One possibility could be for the Township to declare the house in imminent danger of collapse so it could be demolished. That course would require further procedural steps, including a hearing before the Township Committee.

Although my phone calls to Richelson in Brooklyn have not been returned, and I don’t know his situation, it seems clear that his investment in this property was a sad mistake. He purchased it in 2005 for $400,000, with a 30-year mortgage of $380,000. He has had the property on the market in recent years, but it has not found a buyer. And the repairs now being made would seem to fall far short of the total rehab that would appear to be required.

The house is currently listed on the real estate site http://www.zillow.com with the following notation: “Attention Builders. We need to move this house. All offers will be entertained. Only builders should consider because it needs to be rebuilt completely. It is only 1 block from the beach though so you could build something quite nice.” The ad includes an estimated value (or “Zestimate”) of $397,900. — CL

UPDATE, Feb. 8: Last week’s Coaster quoted Mayor Randy Bishop as saying that this property was in foreclosure. That report, it turns out, was in error. We asked various Township officials if they could confirm the report of foreclosure, and on Wednesday Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn informed us that taxes on the house are current through the first quarter of 2012 and that the Township has no record of any foreclosure on 24 McClintock.

Now it's fixed.

This window pane had been busted for at least three years.

Read Full Post »