Monday, August 20, 2012

Asbury Park: Convention Center

A few weekends ago I visited Asbury Park, NJ with some friends who have a house there. I had always heard of the city from its days as a resort town but wasn't prepared for what I found.

While founded in 1871, the beach town had its heyday in the 1920s when many of the most beautiful buildings in the city were constructed.One of these was the Convention center/ Paramount theater complex which has been the keystone of the rehabilitation in the city.The complex, designed by Warren & Wetmore in a nautically inspired Beaux-arts style, officially opened in 1930 and contained a performance venue, a section of enclosed boardwalk, and large convention center facing the ocean.After having been abandoned for years after riots in 1970 caused the town to decline, the complex was restored and reopened in 2007.The brick building has beautiful glazed terra cotta ornamentation that is as stunning today as in 1930. The themes are suitably nautical and musical.How many colors can you count here?! The copper lanterns, windows and elements have all been preserved and restored.I just can't get enough of this stuff.Below you can see the theater to the left (facing the town square), the enclosed arcade at the boardwalk and the convention center flanked by outdoor terrace restaurants over the beach to the right.This is no small project.I love the large metal ship over the sign.The arcade inside is full of shops and restaurants and was busy with a tatoo convention the day I visited (I did not exactly fit in with this crowd as you can imagine........)Many of the interior details have been preserved although there is still a ways to go.In the following days I'll be bringing you some photos and history of some other fascinating buildings from Asbury Park. Stay tuned!

13 comments:

The Devoted Classicist said...

What a great building! All those copper lanterns must be wonderful beacons at night.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Classicist -sadly I don't think they light them at night! The one bar has the missing one from the photograph on their bar -it was quite the thing up close. I wish I had taken a picture!

lostpastremembered said...

Who knew? Honestly, I've never been to Asbury Park and have always thought of it as a Jersey shore wasteland. The building is quite something, isn't it? Love your essay and it might even get me to drive down there and see these buildings for myself!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Lost, I think you would really appreciate it (for a day). The combination of abandoned wasteland, typical shore trash, and grand old beaux-arts building is thrilling and very theatrical. Some surprisingly good restaurants too! The Italian restaurant on the boardwalk was shockingly good!

Dandy said...

I spent many night of my teen age years on the boardwalk at Asbury Park with my girlfriends eating frozen custard, cotton candy and flirting with boys, and sitting on a barstool at the Stone Pony watching a young, skinny, bearded, flannel shirted guy named Bruce Springsteen. Good times.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Dandy - the Stone Pony is still there of course and the busiest spot in town! Nice that in the past few years other places have sprung up as well. Frozen custard....yummy. Now why didn't I think of that?

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

That looks fascinating. I have never been there. I would pay a king's ransom for one of those copper lanterns.

Melissa B. Tubbs said...

I have always loved glazed terra-cotta ornamentation! Great post, can't wait to see more.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I can't get enough of this stuff, either! I think it's so great when architectural restorations spur a civic renaissance!

Parnassus said...

A few years ago Cleveland lost a great glazed-terracotta masterpiece, but it wasn't anywhere near over the top as this one. Even without the seashell, we could guess it belonged in a New Jersey seaside resort! I am really impressed with this beautiful restoration.

Windlost said...

Great post. I only know about Asbury Park thanks to the (amazing) Bruce Springsteen album. :)

Terri

The Down East Dilettante said...

Wonderful post---I love old tourist towns---they have their own kind of romance amidst the roller coasters and the saltwater taffy.

The convention building is absolutely amazing. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

The buildings of the 20's boardwalk construction replaced Bradley's original victorian pavilions, and their design is what made Cole Porter make the comparison between Granada or only Asbury Park (Granada's pale imitator) in "At Long Last Love". The buildings were some of the only seaside structures to survive the hurricane of 47 and did pretty well during Sandy too.