By Chris Rotolo |
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – Residents of Two River communities are surrounded by history, like the Strauss Mansion, perched atop East Mount Avenue since 1893.
Constructed as the summer vacation home for a wealthy New York City merchant, the historic house at 27 Prospect Circle overlooks the borough’s harbor and what has since developed into a bustling downtown area.
The Strauss Mansion currently houses the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society (AHHS) and, in an effort to generate aid for essential structural renovations and the production of further educational programming, the group has partnered with OceanFirst for the banking institute’s 5th Annual Charity Challenge.
“It really is a wonderful program that OceanFirst runs and I’m happy that we could team up with them this year,” said Lynn Fylak, AHHS president. “This fundraiser is a great way for many wonderful local causes and organizations to gain awareness in their communities and some much needed support.”
Alongside such groups as the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, Literacy New Jersey, Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County and other organizations, the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society is competing for $40,000 in grand prizes awarded to the top three fundraising organizations, and $10,000 in weekly bonus challenges.
As of Sunday, June 3 AHHS had raised more than $4,000 from 42 donations, an amount the organization receives regardless of where they finish in the competition’s standings. The Charity Challenge runs through June 12.
The mansion is “a real cultural center,” said local historian Greg Caggiano, the current AHHS assistant secretary and a member of the volunteer staff. “It’s a museum that caters to kids and parents, where they can learn about not only history having to do with Atlantic Highlands but the surrounding areas as well. From the Lenape Indians to the early explorers who were here, all the way up to the 1950s when the Jersey Shore started to come into its own.”
“And most of the donors have not been from Atlantic Highlands,” he added. “More than half have been from communities outside of our own. And that’s something I’m proud of because it shows the work we’re doing is resonating with people all over the Bayshore.”
The OceanFirst Charity Challenge is just one of the fundraising campaigns the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society has lined up this summer in support of the Strauss Mansion.
From June 12-21 the group will host sailing trips, crew meet-and-greets and historical discussions on the A.J. Meerwald, the state ship of New Jersey, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary. A two-hour sail aboard the vessel with refreshments is $75.
The Strauss Mansion’s lecture series will also continue throughout the summer on the third Wednesday of each month with Melissa Ziobro (American Women and Royal Marriages) scheduled for June 20, T. Craig Finnegan (The Railroad Pier at Port Monmouth) set for July 18, the annual porch supper to be held Aug. 15, and Rick Geffken (Quakers & Slavery) announced for Sept. 19.
Audra Mariel will host her Music at the Mansion series at 7 p.m. June 28 with local multi-instrumentalist Daimon Alexandrus. Entry to the performance is $15 and guests are encouraged to bring a dish or drink to share with other show-goers.
An architectural walking tour of Atlantic Highlands is slated for June 16, and a vintage baseball game featuring Monmouth Furnace and the Elizabeth Resolutes will be held at Fireman’s Field Aug. 11.
“What’s unique about the Strauss Mansion is, while we are a museum and a house of historical significance, we’re also a living organization that creates a lot of interactive programming for our community,” Fylak said. “We’re not just putting artifacts in display cases. Our goal is to engage with our community members and to create experiences for them and with them.”
For more information on the Strauss Mansion and the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society’s upcoming programming – including public paranormal investigations – please visit ahhistory.org.
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