What was left of the Manchester Inn

Ocean Grove’s Manchester Inn was a landmark of the town until it burned down in winter 2010. I was in Chicago at the time, but my parents called to tell me the news, and they mailed me some newspaper clippings about the story. It was a Big Deal.

This is what was left of it by July 2010. I think they’ve cleaned it up better by now, and I’m told there might be new construction starting soon.


Officer's Row

Officer’s Row, Sandy Hook (Fort Hancock).

Since Fort Hancock was deactivated in 1974, most of these houses have just sat around, doing nothing.

After years with no clear plan for the future of Fort Hancock, in 1999 the National Parks Service looked at a bunch of submitted proposals for what to do with the various fort structures. They selected Rumson developer James Wassel to renovate the buildings Fort Hancock:

The developer had planned to spend $70 million-$90 million on restoring the buildings that lie within the NRA’s Sandy Hook unit. Sixteen Officer’s Row homes were envisioned as bed-and-breakfast inns. A dorm once used for U.S. troops was proposed to be transformed into classrooms for Rutgers University or perhaps Brookdale Community College. Mess halls, gymnasiums, even the old mule barn and the officer’s club also were part of the deal. And the NPS would spend $2.2 million on a new dock so he could ferry conferees over to Fort Hancock from Manhattan (Repanshek 2010, para. 3).

Sounds great, right?

Well, the funds didn’t come through, and nothing at all has been done with the buildings since then. Wassel’s 2004 lease for most of the Officer’s Row buildings (which technically never went through) was canceled in 2009, and his 2007 lease for three other buildings (Post Chapel, Post Theater, and the old park service headquarters) was canceled in 2010, even though he’d renovated them. The structures further deteriorated since Wassel’s involvement (or lack thereof) in 1999, so now they’ll be even MORE of a hassle to restore, IF any developers can be convinced to take on the project now.

Every time my family drives by Officer’s Row, my dad shakes his head in disbelief. “This is waterfront property,” he says. “The land alone must be worth a fortune. I’m sure there are young couples who’d jump at the chance to restore one of these things. But look! Everything is just rotting! What a waste! What a shame!”

After that whole fiasco, the Gateway National Recreation Area officials are understandably wary of leasing out all the buildings for one big development project, and officials are reputedly seeking individual tenants for a “a more efficient building by building rehabilitation strategy (Repanshek 2010, para. 5).”

But finding lessees is hard, and keeping them may be even harder. The Audubon Society, one of three organizations permitted to stay in its Officers’ Row building after Wassel’s lease, just decided to close down its operations in late December 2011 (Sheehan 2011).

On the brighter side, as of last week, the National Park Service had plans to negotiate a lease for one of the buildings with the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children (National Park Service 2012). So at least it doesn’t seem like they’ll be bulldozing the whole area immediately.

(P.S. I actually took this photo back in 2007 when MCDP was fully active, but I guess I didn’t like it for some reason. Upon second review, I don’t think it’s too bad at all.)



National Parks Service. (2012). “Gateway enters negotiations with AIDS Research Foundation for Children to Lease Fort Hancock Building.” Atlantic Highlands Herald.

Repanshek, K. (2010). “National Park Service Officials Again Debating What To Do With Historic Officers’ Quarters at Fort Hancock.” National Parks Traveler.

Sheehan, L. (2010). “Fort developer loses lease for three buildings.” Independent.

Sheehan, L. (2011). “Audubon to fly the coop at Sandy Hook location.” Independent.

Asbury Park Casino, fall 2011

Every time I go back to Asbury Park, the casino looks different. Above is how the Ocean Grove side of the casino looked in 2011…

Asbury Park Casino, summer 2007

…but THIS is how it looked four years ago, in 2007.

I originally posted that bottom photo here, and mentioned that there were some plans to recreate the beach side of the Casino.

Thus far, this has not happened.

Here’s what the ocean-side of the Casino looked like in early 2007 (click the photo for a link to its original post):
Asbury Park Casino, February 2007

…and here’s what it looked like in late 2011:
Beach side of the Asbury Park casino, September 2011

It’s interesting to watch this stuff happen over time.


Interior of Asbury Park Casino–what’s left of it, anyway. And, just to orient you, if you click that “Asbury Park Casino” link and pretend you’re standing there, this is what you’d see if you looked through a hole in the wall to your left.

(Click the photo for a larger size! This is two photos hand-stitched together with no fancy software.)

The White Building, Joe Palaia Park (formerly Deal Test Site) The White Building, Joe Palaia Park (formerly Deal Test Site)

If you can keep from feeling seasick from looking at this split-level diptych, you’ll note something a little different between the two white buildings (aside from the obvious seasonal difference). That’s right–the park FORMERLY known as Deal Test Site installed a [communications?] tower while I wasn’t looking. wtf.

On an unrelated note, dear readers, if you’re interested in a sneak peak of my own future… I’m going to grad school in Chicago (for medical illustration) in August, and there are already three Chicago Daily Photoblogs. What to do?! Answer: I’ve started a new semi-daily location-nonspecific photoblog [CLICKY CLICKY] (read: ANOTHER pointless photoblog clogging up the internet). It’s not officially “on the market” yet–I’m still tweaking it, and you won’t see it in my Blogger profile or listed in any photoblog directories–but I am posting things, if you’d like to check it out, bookmark it, and/or offer suggestions. 🙂

babel + johnny

Former location of the 700 Building at Monmouth University. I don’t know what they’re building here now.

(…Or maybe it was the 600 Building…? I don’t really have a head for remembering numbers.)


(Wow, I should go away more often. My pageviews steadily climbed as I was gone, but as soon as I returned and posted something new, the views plummetted about 70%.)

Construction in Ocean Grove. I think probably because all the houses are made of wood (which–admit it–is not the most durable substance on earth), places need to be rebuilt after one is torn down/burned down.

Ocean Grove house

The above photo is one I took in 2002. It’s actually right across the street from the building in the color photo.

Next Page »