Posts Tagged ‘The Dilemma of Founder’s Park’

Founders’ Park. October 14, 2011.    Paul Goldfinger photo   © Reposting because of the good news that a serious fundraising effort is now underway to bring back the landmark fountain.  Ted Bell says that they now have $40,000. When they reach $60,000, he can send the relic to Alabama for restoration.


2017 display at the site of the 4-tiered metal fountain. Courtesy of Ted Bell, HSOG. Click to enlarge.  Ted Bell is standing next to Stokes in the photo.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

2011 original post:….     “The only ones that use the park are the dog walkers and those cutting through to get to Asbury. No benches to sit on, no lighting, a bit of wasted space, no one uses the park!”

This remark, referring to Founders’ Park, is from a commenter on Blogfinger. His grim assessment, coupled with the current bleak nocturnal image of the Park, might make a stranger wonder why they don’t just pave the place, light it up like Coney Island, and then use it for parking. Well, perhaps a little more information is in order:

Founders’ Park is not only the largest open grassy space in Ocean Grove, but it is unique in other ways. I have always enjoyed walking or biking through and around the Park. It is a lovely place to visit in daylight and it seems to have its own personality.

The setting — with Wesley Lake to the north, a marvelous but decrepit antique fountain in the center, big old trees, and historic houses around the perimeter — creates a very special location that is a delight to visit.

On the south side are a row of identical white historic cottages that are owned and maintained by the CMA; if you haven’t see them, take a walk there. At the northeast corner, facing the lake, is a home restoration that will become famous, including a red roof and a yellow body; don’t miss it.

There are multiple foot paths through the Park which remind me of a large grassy square in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.  The Ocean Grove Beautification Project adds its special touch with flowers around the fountain.

The Historical Society is looking into a restoration of the fountain. Wouldn’t that be great? In summer you can watch the swan boats go in circles. And over at the north edge is an 1880 canon from the Civil War. It is aimed at Asbury Park — perhaps a symbol of an ambivalent relationship with our “sister city.”

Founders’ Park is a walkers’ park — no benches there, but that is part of the allure. It is quiet and uncrowded. People seem to take their time as they traverse the space. A lone figure walking across the Park seems like a metronome. The trees and the breezes are also in motion; the Park has a rhythm of its own.

One time I met a couple from out of town who spread a blanket and had their lunch. They were the only ones there. I spoke to  them for a Blogfinger quote; they said they “loved” to visit the Grove, and their routine was to picnic in the Park.

And let’s not forget that this place is a historic landmark. In July of 1869, a group of 22 Methodists set up tents in a clearing that would become Founders’ Park. Historian Richard Gibbons said that the site was chosen because most of what would become Ocean Grove was “wilderness, desert, desolation.”

They held a service there on July 31, 1869, in the tent of Mrs. Thornley. It was the beginning of a special town, and any assessment of Founders’ Park must include this memory.

So now we have the Jekyll and Hyde image of Founders’ Park — one ominous face by night and one happy face by day. It is a dilemma. Maybe the way to go is to light the park better, have more patrols, and be careful over there at night — take someone you like with you, preferably a big guy.

Perhaps the HSOG will establish a fund to restore the fountain. I pledge $100.00 as the first offering.

PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND  with TOM WAITS:    “Corinne Died on the Battlefield.”  They used to have Civil War reenactments at Founders Park:

Editor’s Note 2017:  Ted Bell, OG historian and author, is leading the drive to raise the necessary funds for the fountain restoration. They need to raise $106,500 to restore the fountain which is listed in 2017 by “Preservation New Jersey” as one of the state’s 10 most endangered historic places.

Bring your donation to there Historical Society of Ocean GRove,NJ, PO Box 446—-50 Pitman Avenue.  info@oceangrovehistory.org

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