By Chris Rotolo |
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – The historic Strauss Mansion has overlooked the borough’s bustling downtown area for 125 years. The Atlantic Highlands Historical Society (AHHS) is marking the anniversary with a summer’s worth of community programming.
Constructed as the summer vacation home for a wealthy New York City merchant, the historic manse at 27 Prospect Circle has perched atop East Mount Ave. since 1893 and currently houses the AHHS and its diverse educational offerings and community engagement efforts.
“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,” said Lynn Fylak, who serves as the AHHS president. “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.”
Greg Caggiano, a local historian and AHHS assistant secretary, leads semiregular public paranormal investigations of the mansion and its grounds, events that have grown in popularity in recent years. Each new piece of programming also acts as an effort to raise funds, both for the launch of future educational and engagement initiatives, as well as for essential structural renovations to the mansion.
“Everything we do here is a multidimensional effort,” Caggiano said. “We’re a volunteer organization, so every event we host is for educational and engagement purposes, as well as to raise funds so we can continue to be a resource in this community and surrounding towns.”
The AHHS recently partnered with OceanFirst for the banking institute’s 5th Annual Charity Challenge, a monthlong fundraising contest that came to a close Tuesday, June 12 and helped the group raise $4,675 thanks to 49 public donations.
“It really is a wonderful program that OceanFirst runs and I’m happy that we could team up with them this year,” Fylak said. “This fundraiser is a great way for many wonderful local causes and organizations to gain awareness in their communities and some much needed support.”
Caggiano said the OceanFirst Charity Challenge has opened his eyes to how impactful and far-reaching the volunteer staff’s efforts are.
“Many of the donors have not been from Atlantic Highlands,” Caggiano said. “A lot 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 mansion is a cultural center, he added. “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.”
The OceanFirst Charity Challenge is just one of the fundraising campaigns the AHHS has lined up this summer.
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 sale aboard the vessel with refreshments is $75.
An architectural walking tour of Atlantic Highlands is slated for June 16.
The Strauss Mansion’s lecture series will 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.
A vintage baseball game featuring Monmouth Furnace and the Elizabeth Resolutes will be held at Fireman’s Field Aug. 11.
For more information on the Strauss Mansion and the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society’s upcoming programming – including public paranormal investigations – please visitor email .
This article first appeared in the June 21 – 28, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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