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Posts Tagged ‘The Belmont Hotel in Asbury Park’

George Tice © Belmont Hotel, Asbury Park. 1974. This is a selenium-toned silver gelatin print.

By Paul Goldfinger ©. The Belmont burned down about 7 years ago.

By Paul Goldfinger ©. rear view.  Photo taken before the Belmont was destroyed by fire.

Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger.   Re-posted from 2016.  The editor’s note below still rings true in 2018 and has been updated.

There were two historic (over 100 years old) hotels in A.Park which were adjacent to each other on Asbury Avenue—-The Belmont and the Atlantic.   The Belmont had 50 rooms, but it was vacant in 2006.   The entire block was scheduled for demolition, but it burned down during a 5 alarm fire, along with the Atlantic, in December of that year.  The balloon construction made for a deluge with quick destruction up and down the buildings.

An AP historian said, in an APP article, that the buildings were considered historically significant to Asbury Park and Monmouth County.
“This site is one of the small remaining number of turn-of-the-century hotels that once flourished,” he said.

“The local historical society wanted to save the Atlantic and Belmont Hotels and have them refurbished to be used for residential purposes, but the society’s efforts were thwarted several years ago by the City Council and redevelopers,” he said.

“And, now that the fire has destroyed the hotels, there is nothing left to do but start from the ground up.  They could have been adapted to modern uses, but now they are gone,” he said.

Residents said they were upset to see history disappear so quickly. “I hate to see it go,” Robert Razminas, 48, an Asbury Park resident for 25 years, said as the buildings burned. “These old places are Asbury Park history. They should be restored and kept up.”

George Tice* is one of America’s most famous photographers.  He is especially known for his work in his native New Jersey.  His specialty is documenting historic old buildings and neighborhoods, as in his photographs of Paterson, an old immigrant based blue collar city.

The Tice photograph above of the Belmont is from an on-line gallery web site   (Paddle8).  In 1974 he photographed two Victorian houses in Ocean Grove. Tice has published about 20 photographic books including one about the Amish in Pennsylvania and another in Ireland and England called “Stone Walls, Grey Skies.” A platinum print from that book resides in Ocean Grove. Contact us if you want to view it. One of his most important books is “Paterson.”

Here is a link to a BF piece in 2013 which shows some of his images:

https://blogfinger.net/2013/11/08/tibet-in-jersey-the-newark-museum-scores-with-exhibits-on-tibet-and-george-tice-jersey-photographer/

PHILLIP SMITH ( of Ocean Grove and the NY Philharmonic) on trumpet along with JOSEPH TURIN on piano play Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me”  Note: I spotted Phil—Phil Smith and the NY Philharmonic–on TV for the Live From Lincoln Center New Years Eve show on PBS.  The camera caught him having a string of rests and gazing ahead as Yo Yo Ma played a tango. He has since retired from the Phil, but he still spends summers in the Grove and plays in the Great Auditorium.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This article rings true as we think about historic preservation in Ocean Grove. These two Asburian hotels could have been re-purposed into residences while maintaing their  historic “bones.”  As noted before by Blogfinger, Asbury has an advantage for preservation because of the available land for parking, but that didn’t save these two structures—they were destined to be replaced by condominiums.

Evidently the idea of remodeling them into residences was not considered because AP has turned over that entire oceanfront area to trash-and -build-new developers without any worry about history.  They  don’t seem to care about AP’s history and they don’t mind turning much of their reclaimed property into condominiums. I recall when the beautiful old Metropolitan Hotel, a nostalgic place, which I visited before it’s death spiral, with much history, was allowed to rot and then be demolished.

However there is a huge difference between the two towns:  Ocean Grove is on the National and State Historic Registers, so we have an obligation to try and save historic buildings and not mow them down like dead ducks. But turning old hotels into condo’s here is contrary to our Master Plan which has a vision that is totally different than Asbury’s, and we really shouldn’t allow more space-clogging condo conversions of old hotels to occur, especially in defiance of RSIS parking standards.

Our old hotels need to be dealt with in ways that meet the special needs of our town, with the interests of the people and the history placed ahead of the developers and the politicians who want more money from the Cash-Cow-By-The-Sea.

Current related issues in 2018 directs our attention to the Aurora Hotel and the Warrington. We have posted articles about both, and both face an uncertain future in Ocean Grove;  and the best we can  hope for in both cases would be single family Victorian designer homes.

Phil Smith’s solo above  (“Someone to Watch over Me”) reminds us to protect our town’s historic treasures.

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor.

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