The 160-year-old waterfront DeNormandie Avenue home that freed slave Charles Williams built — and made home to his immediate family and Robards family descendants — was demolished to make way for a passive park was on the banks of the Navesink River in Fair Haven.
The acquisition of the property has been in the works, via several funding avenues, for the better part of a decade.
The borough finally acquired the 6.9-acre property in the fall to preserve a rare swath of waterfront open space for future generations to enjoy, rather than letting it be sold to a private developer and closed off from public access.
The house, officials have said, was in too much disrepair to preserve. Also, as part of the deal for procurement of funding for the $1.2 million acquisition, borough officials had to agree to demolish the home.
The most recent owners, the Robards descendants, had lived in the house since 1855.
“Winifred Robards (who lived there since 1855, when she was 3) was known to invite kids onto the property to play and enjoy it all the time,” Lucarelli said.
It was her wish to pay that forward, Lucarelli had said. A plaque commemorating the Williams-Robards families will be erected on the site with a recounting of its history, Lucarelli said at the announcement of the acquisition in the fall.
The uncharacteristic March cold staved off progress for a bit, but with the spring warmth come the finishing touches of the Fair Haven Streetscape project.
And with the final phase of work, that will continue for about another three weeks, comes a minor traffic delay, with one lane closed, during daylight hours on River Road.
“We’re executing the rest of the Streetscape East program,” Mayor Ben Lucarelli said. “We started last fall at around Buena Vista Avenue on the north side, just to get that last part of the project started, then winter kicked in.”
As with the rest of the Streetscape project that spans from the business section by the Acme and now through to the Rumson border, sidewalks are being replaced on both sides of River Road and the consistent historic-looking lighting is being installed.
The last part of the east portion of the project is under construction on the south side of River Road, from Buena Vista to Oak Place, or roughly 911 River Road where the Shrewsbury Yacht Club sits, Lucarelli said.
Next, the project will be competed on the north side of River Road in the same area.
The following recent criminal incidents and arrest were reported by the Shrewsbury police:
• A shoplifting of $1,176 worth of merchandise from Anthropologie on Broad Street was reported on March 29.
Patrolman Tracy Polk is investigating.
• A shoplifting of $439. 80 worth of merchandise from Staples on Broad Street was reported on March 31.
Patrolman Ralph Latham is investigating.
• Jay D. Patten, 35. of Red Bank, was arrested on April 2 in the area of Sycamore Avenue and charged with theft, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, paraphernalia and a hypodermic needle by Patrolman Tracy Polk.
While the sun has been hidden beneath the rain clouds for the past few days, we’re turning to some warm memories of, once again, carefree moments with a couple of RFH guys.
So, the Retro Pic of the (George) Day today honors the memory of RFH Class of 1978 grad A.J. Bruder, who passed away around this time in 1996. Bruder was a fun-loving guy who was known to love life and it shows in this pic.
Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect will feature a memorial tribute to Bruder on the April 15 anniversary of his untimely death at 36.
The other RFHer is a familiar face to this day in the area — Mike Grady.
What can we say? This duo represents what spring fever is all about — even though this photo was likely taken in the fall.
Can you caption this one?
Many thanks, again, to the fabulous George Day for this gem of a photo!
All it takes is a drive around the Rumson-Fair Haven area to see that there’s a lot of business news around the towns.
Some retail spaces have been cloaked in brown packing paper with and/or without some sort of literal sign of change. Others have interesting temporary venues and yet others are just starting out and telling their story via social media.
Here’s the business buzz in the Rumson-Fair Haven area:
Fair Havenite, Handmade Haven and Your Karma is Rockin’ owner Melanie Stewart
The jeweler/crafter is selling her wares right now out of the Oceanic Library in Rumson.
After leaving the short-lived brick-and-mortar location on River Road in Fair Haven, Stewart and her husband David have been crafting and selling wherever the opportunity presents itself.
They told Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect back in October that it’s proven more cost-effective to have a traveling venue.
So, when there was an opening at the library in Rumson, Melanie, according to a Facebook post, created like crazy and set up shop.
Her creations will be there through the end of the month.
From Melanie Stewart:
“Please shop at the Oceanic (Rumson) Library the month of April. They are featuring my jewelry and wreaths and will receive a donation for each purchase you make!
Anyone from the public is welcomed to visit and shop! 109 Avenue Of Two Rivers Rumson, 07760 732-842-2692 for hours ~ Photos of creations that are featured with price list. Thank you!”
Cravin Haven, Fair Haven
Carolyn Beamish Furguson, of the Fair Haven Business Association, tells Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect that the popular Avon-based vegan restaurant, Seed to Sprout, will replace Cravin Haven.
The eatery, for which owners gave all indications that there would be a remodeling with possible reconfiguration in business in February, not so long ago sported a sign that said the business was for sale. The 1,200-square-foot space was listed for lease at $1,500 per month as a turn-key restaurant with equipment.
Now the windows are covered with brown packing paper. The inside is not empty and the sign remains, but it is still listed as one of two in the plaza for lease on loopnet.com.
Cravin Haven’s website, though, gives no indication that the business has folded. It still says that it is only closed for renovations. There is information about off-site catering. Click here for more information.
Empty storefront Acme plaza
The other unit for lease, the 900-square-foot 560 K, is next to the laundromat Wash House, a few doors down. It is empty and windows are not covered.
The information on loop net.com says now that rental rates for both are negotiable.
Replacement for Doc Shoppe?
The spot where the Doc Shoppe sat for years, in the other section of the Acme plaza fronting River Road in Fair Haven, is also for lease.
The Doc Shoppe relocated to a larger store in Red Bank last year.
The roughly 900-square-foot store is for lease through Metro Commercial Real Estate at 856-866-1900.
Fair Haven River Road business district
And in the Fair Haven business district east of Fair Haven Road, there’s been an announcement by Lisa Tave Taffin on social media that physhions, a “fashion-forward fitness apparel and accessories boutique” is opening in May at 813 River Road.
A Rumson Locals resurrection or closure?
Seemingly since the dawn of time, or roughly four decades at least, the spot at 91 East River Road in Rumson was Butler’s Deli. It was a frozen-in-time stop for anyone from old-timer townies to teens to grab those classic breakfast and lunch sandwiches and sides.
Butler’s closed in 2013 when then owner Paul Stout retired. Then well-known Rumsonite Dave Ciambrone opened Locals in the same spot in January of 2013.
Ciambrone is no stranger to Rumson business, having owned Murphy’s Tavern at one point and part of the family that owned Val’s Tavern for most of its existence.
There was a rumor that Butler’s was coming back. The sign on the door has said “Sorry, We’re Closed.”
Who knows? Mayor John Ekdahl said he isn’t certain, but did hear the rumor. The eatery, he said, has been closed since the beginning of the year.
And, it looks like the day after the photo was taken of Locals cloaked in brown packing paper with a “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign on the door, it was revealed that former owner Paul Stout is coming out of retirement to reopen as Butler’s Market. Soon. Stay tuned.
Across East River Road in Rumson at gourmet food stop, et al …
A sign on the window at 114 East River Road says, “For Rent.”
No further information was available at the site that was formerly Le Bon Panier.
The et al eatery now has a location in Highlands. There was a plan for et al to have two locations, in Rumson and Highlands, after renovations. But the sign indicates otherwise.
Time will tell.
What would you like to see at one or any of these business locations?
A Freehold Borough man linked to a Fair Haven business burglary/theft has been linked to a string of more than 30 similar cases spanning Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties and is being held at Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $113,000 bail.
Isiah Casrell, 28, was arrested along with an alleged co-conspirator, Rachael Lovely, 33, of Newark, at 1:30 a.m. on April 5 in Holmdel, police said. The two were allegedly leaving the scene of a commercial burglary there when they “were spotted and stopped on State Route 34 in the area of the border of Aberdeen Township and Marlboro Township by Marlboro Township Police Officer Johnathan Gramcko,” a release said.
The Holmdel burglary was found, by a multi-jurisdictional police task force, to allegedly be one of more than 30 that occurred in the three-county span in the past few months.
Fair Haven Police Detective Stephen Schneider, a member of the task force, said he signed specific complaints against Casrell in connection with the March 19 burglary of Distinctive Toys, 595 River Road.
As a result, Casrell was charged by Fair Haven police alone with: criminal mischief, burglary and theft of movable property. His bail on the Fair Haven charges alone was set at $30,000 with no 10 percent option, set by Judge James M. Newman, according to police.
In addition to the Fair Haven burglary/theft, Casrell, Schneider said in a release, “was responsible for committing numerous commercial burglaries in the following jurisdictions: Marlboro, Howell, Aberdeen, Colts Neck, Holmdel, Ocean Township, Plumsted Township, Old Bridge, Berkeley, Upper Freehold Township, Manalapan and Shrewsbury Borough.”
Concerning the alleged burglaries throughout the three counties committed by Casrell and Lovely, detectives from Monmouth County’s Marlboro, Howell and Holmdel Township police departments charged the two with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of burglary tools, theft, burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and criminal mischief.