Sandy Hook Lighthouse!

Sometimes, if you time your trip to Sandy Hook just right, you can take a tour of the lighthouse!

Based on notes I took when I did the tour in 2009, this is the same Fresnel lens that they installed in the 1850s (right around when they switched from oil to kerosene). About 50 years later, right around the turn of the century, they switched from kerosene to an incandescent bulb, and I *think* Sandy Hook was the first lighthouse to implement such a modern bulb.

If that’s true, isn’t it neat?


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. http://www.ahherald.com/newsbrief-mainmenu-2/monmouth-county-news/12382-gateway-enters-negotiations-with-aids-research-foundation-for-children-to-lease-fort-hancock-building.

Repanshek, K. (2010). “National Park Service Officials Again Debating What To Do With Historic Officers’ Quarters at Fort Hancock.” National Parks Traveler. http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/11/national-park-service-officials-again-debating-what-do-historic-officers-quarters-fort-hancock7233.

Sheehan, L. (2010). “Fort developer loses lease for three buildings.” Independent. http://ind.gmnews.com/news/2010-12-09/Front_Page/Fort_developer_loses_lease_for_three_buildings.html.

Sheehan, L. (2011). “Audubon to fly the coop at Sandy Hook location.” Independent. http://hub.gmnews.com/news/2011-12-08/Front_Page/Audubon_to_fly_the_coop_at_Sandy_Hook_location.html.

Typewriter in Sandy Hook's History House

In the historic area of Sandy Hook, near the lighthouse and the Post Chapel, there’s a restored house on the officer’s row creatively called History House. It contains a lot of historic things.

Like typewriters.

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.


When we go to the Monmouth County Fair, of particular interest to my family is the antique tractor tent. My grandfather, born and raised in Kansas, possessed two International Harvesters, which he used to mow his fairly substantial lawn until he was 90 years old (when someone finally succeeded in convincing him that mowing the lawn in 95 degree heat was a poor idea at his age). When my midwestern uncle had to spend a few years in New Jersey, he lavished his attentions on a small yellow tractor (a Cub Lo-Boy–again, an International Harvester). And when all these tractors needed to find a new home, my cousin began using them for his landscaping business.

Monmouth County Fair tractor tent

So it’s kinda fun to go look through the tent and decide which tractors on display are most similar to the tractors that my family knows and loves.

This concludes our five-day retrospect of the five-day fair. But TOMORROW there is something VERY AWESOME planned for this photoblog, so be sure to tune in!

walking on boards

There are two reasons that this path of boards caught my attention.

First of all, it’s one of several private boardwalks in Sea Girt [+photos] (not to be confused with Sea Bright [+ photos], which is north), leading from seaside mansions across some dunes directly to the public boardwalk. A low gate discourages the public from trespassing.

I hadn’t seen this phenomenon before.

The second thing is that it reminds me of the original boardwalks.

The boardwalk pictured above was in Asbury Park, c. 1877. (Photograph is from Images of America: Asbury Park, by Helen-Chantal Pike, Arcadia Publishing, 1997, p. 100) The caption reads:

In 1877 the first boardwalk was laid out on the beachfront. It… was just wide enough for two side-by-side strollers, and was rolled up at the end of each season. Seven years earlier New Jersey’s first boardwalk had been laid in Atlantic City.

Shockingly, most boardwalks don’t look like that anymore.

empress hotel

The Empress Hotel began as a luxury resort for vacationing families in the 1950s. By the 1980s, it was pretty much out of business, and by 1991, it was boarded up. But in 1998, famous radio DJ Shep Pettibone bought the property and opened a nightclub inside. The Paradise Nightclub “lured crowds of gay travelers away from Fire Island and instead to the beaches of Asbury Park;” the hotel portion reopened 6 years later in 2004 and continues to attract a LGBT clientele. According to Wikipedia, “It is one of the Jersey Shore’s most chic resorts, as well as its only Hotel which caters to the gay community.”

And: CHECK OUT MY MAP OF ASBURY PARK! <–clicky clicky
It allows you to put all I’ve said in some sort of spacial context. 🙂

This concludes Asbury Park Feature Week (what’s that? You didn’t know I was doing one? Go back and read my last 5 posts! 🙂 ). I am actually in North Carolina for a few days, so I will be relying on “automatic posting” and I’ll be unavailable for comments.

Next Page »