On behalf of the Preservation Alliance, we appreciate the opportunity to connect with more of our neighbors through Stroll Spring Lake with articles we hope to place in this exciting new magazine. The Preservation Alliance are volunteers who work to foster appreciation and proactive planning for the preservation of Spring Lake’s unique architectural, cultural, and natural significance. Concerns for preservation date back to the late 1970s. At the time, people in town were dismayed at seeing the demolition of Spring Lake’s grand Monmouth Hotel, the loss of some of its historic homes, and the destruction of impressive properties like the Heilner Seawood Estate. Later, in 1998, a few residents decided to take a hands-on approach to save Spring Lake’s architectural heritage. Led by Historical Society member Patricia Florio Colrick, they officially founded the Preservation Alliance of Spring Lake.
One of the Alliance’s earliest projects was inspired by the poor condition of the rustic wooden Mercer Avenue bridge at Devine Park. In response, several of the Alliance’s founding members took action, including former Asbury Park News publisher Jules Plangere. They compiled historic photos of the original bridge that were used to develop the scaled drawings the Borough’s Public Works staff would use to skillfully replicate its original design. Though not yet a member, I helped by doing those sketches.
The Alliance also played a vital role in obtaining the grant to reconstruct the severely damaged historic Ocean Avenue Gates at Spring Lake’s northern border. Alliance member Dr. Arthur Aria attended Monmouth County Community Block Grant meetings for several years to present the dire need for this and other Spring Lake projects. In addition, the Preservation Alliance was instrumental in persuading the mayor and town council to revise and improve the design for the much-needed facade reconstruction to the east wing of Borough Hall so it would align with its original historic appearance.
Among the Alliance’s most important contributions to Spring Lake was in its leadership and support of the Borough’s project to save, restore, and expand the Frederick A. Duggan Memorial First Aid & Emergency Squad Building, located at 313 Washington Avenue. When it was built in 1934, it was one of the first facilities of its kind. The Alliance recognized the threat of this historical building being torn down. The early leaders of the Alliance were dedicated to saving this wonderful Tudor Revival treasure and to helping it continue it's service to the community. Their tremendous efforts spanned 20 years. Ultimately, the Alliance was successful in having the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places and helping the borough to secure a $526,950 historic restoration grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust. The Alliance's work did not stop there. To meet the grant’s requirements, members worked tirelessly to raise almost all of the required matching funds to limit the project’s tax impact.
While much of what the Alliance does is behind-the-scenes work, we are committed to the hard work needed to advance our mission to preserve Spring Lake’s historic properties and environments. The Annual Awards Program, hosted at the Spring Lake Community House, draws greater awareness and support from Spring Lake’s residents by celebrating the inspiring efforts of Spring Lakers who have saved and successfully restored their pre-war homes. Over the years, we have given out 136 awards. We’ve also done interviews with owners who’ve restored their homes, as well as special studies and educational articles illustrating how our remaining historic homes help to make Spring Lake the special place we love - and why we must preserve this heritage. The primary way we communicate information to Spring Lakers is through our annual newsletter. We look forward to our partnership with Stroll Spring Lake to significantly improve our access and service to the community year-round. You can access many of the Alliance’s newsletters at http://preservationspringlake.com.
Preservation Alliance of Spring Lake
The Alliance meets on the third Thursday of the month, at 7 PM in the Duggan Building. It is looking forward to welcoming new members. If you’re a Spring Laker who is passionate about preserving our beautiful town’s history, please join us. You can do this through the Alliance’s website, calling membership chairman, Bob Drasheff at 201-208-7650, or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org