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Asbury Park’s “Tillie” and other Palace murals deteriorating; developer over two years in default of promise to safeguard

May 4, 2009
Palace Amusements, showning Tillie on the upper left-hand corner of the main facade, 2003.

Palace Amusements, showing Tillie murals on the upper left and right corners of the main facade, 2003.

The Save Tillie Campaign, a group of Bruce Springsteen fans devoted to preservation in Asbury Park, a shore town made famous for its association with Springsteen’s music, called for Governor Corzine’s action last week regarding the apparent mistreatment of an icon of Asbury Park history and the group’s namesake: the Tillie mural. Painted on what was formerly a wall of the Palace Amusements, a National Register-listed landmark of Asbury Park’s boardwalk that was demolished in 2004, the Tillie mural was scheduled to be protected, despite the building’s demolition. In 2004, the State of New Jersey issued a permit for redevelopment to the City of Asbury Park and developer Asbury Partners, LLC which mandated that prior to demolition of Palace Amusements, the permittee identify and preserve artifacts from the building for eventual incorporation into the new development planned for the lots. The large, smiling face mural known as “Tillie” was one of these artifacts. The wall onto which the mural was painted was removed, along with other wall murals and various other artifacts, in 2004. All were placed in storage sheds close to the waterfront, awaiting the time at which they would be re-used in new construction. However, in August 2005, when the murals were inspected in their sheds by New York conservator Paul Himmelstein, he reported deficiencies in the storage sheds, including improper waterproofing and deteriorating materials. Himmelstein indicated that the murals were in danger of destruction as a result of various threats (including water and mold), and that proper storage would be required to alleviate these threats. While Asbury Partners, LLC subsequently agreed to repair the sheds, repairs have apparently not as yet been undertaken. Furthermore, a City Council resolution adopted in April 2006 required that the developer work with the City to relocate the murals to sheds of the design recommended by Paul Himmelstein by August 1, 2006. While the City did approve a new storage shed location, and Asbury Partners did apparently have materials for new sheds prefabricated, the sheds have not yet been built.  While the City has allegedly pressured Asbury Partners, LLC repeatedly to complete the required relocation, presently Tillie and the other murals from the Palace currently remain in questionable storage.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2009 9:36 am

    Like the other Tillie that still stands up the street at the Wonderbar, it’d be a shame to let it go. At least there’s two that can be saved.

    Let’s hope that they do the right thing.

  2. Tom Blander AP permalink
    May 28, 2009 12:01 am

    A New Force in Asbury Park

    There seems to be a new force in Asbury Park these days and his name is David A. Cummings. Out of nowhere his plans for Asbury Park are gaining approval from many locals and city officials (off the records). Mr. Cummings has a real passion and vision for Asbury Park. He’s well versed in its’ history and New Jersey’s coastal history. As a long time Avalon NJ home owner he has watched unregulated development and speculation turn a modest beach town into a playground for the wealthy. Avalon has lost 95% of it character due to demolition, speculation and poor government regulations. He questions who would sell buildings that could generate revenue for the city or allow eminent domain to run wildly uncontrolled. Believe it or not all this anti-development is coming from a developer. He is an architect/developer that understands the beach community living. He holds little respect for Asbury Partners LLC which he believes the AP city council gave them a free license to demolish the historic fabric of Asbury Park. He laughs at the talk of SOHO and South Beach, this is nothing more than a dream of unknowledgeable developers and lack of concern for Asbury Park and all the people that have lived here through the riots and two and a half decades of almost unlivable conditions. If you want South Beach go to South Beach. Mr. Cummings says “The real question to those suggesting these ideas for Asbury Park, is do you know or understand why South Beach is the way it is. It’s the cities historic architecture that was constructed over time that make South Beach, well South Beach. One can not recreate that on a grand scale as they have proposed without it looking “Disney-ish” As he walked the boardwalk from one end to the other he asked me “What do children do down here. Why would you have high end antique shops, boutique style restaurants, up scale surf shop all along the boardwalk? There is no need to be catering to what is not here. There is Ocean Grove, Sea Girt and Spring Lake to the south and Deal and Allenhurst to the north, all much more affluent than Asbury Park, but that’s ok, he quips. Asbury needs to cater to the people that are here right now. Asbury Park needs people to visit, not necessarily to live here. What Asbury has is a beach, a place where all ethnicities and personal economics no longer matter. With the proper vision this place could really become a resort.” But not from what is planned. Madison Marquette is primarily a leasing management company known for developing shopping strips for Target, Rite-Aid, Out Back Stake house and so/on. Not town planning and from there plans obviously do not understand the intricacies of combining historic, cultural aspects of not only buildings but of the people of Asbury Park as well. Mr. Cummings said one of the funniest things he’s seen was a memo about the parking meters going into effect in May. Pay for parking? Maybe they should get some people to visit here first.
    .

    Mr. Cummings will be presenting his plans to the public soon and asks all resident to look, think and provide input. I will be first in line to see his vision and if his visions are as powerful as his talk there will only be good thing in store for Asbury Park.

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