From Helen Pike’s History & Heritage Journal:
The recent news of an August 2011 theft of the decorative copper panels that graced Convention Hall’s retail bays left me dismayed. The city’s unique architecture has always been an important example of what attracts visitors to this part of the state, many of us with cameras. I photographed the fanciful ones that had been restored early on, and included one example in my 2005 book for Rutgers University Press, Asbury Park’s Glory Days: The Story of an American Resort.
The Historical Society is offering a $5,000 reward for any information that may help determine the whereabouts of these 30 rectangular panes whose estimated value is $100,000. They had been removed as part of the on-going restoration work of the aging entertainment complex that went up on the Boardwalk 83 years ago.
Will we ever find out what happened to them? And, can even one still be found?
Only time will tell.
Finding anything of value takes time. Family genealogist Tom Scott of Rochester, NY, spent quite a number of years searching for the final whereabouts of his great uncle and Convention Hall’s first organist, G. Howard Scott. Tom had only hope left by the time he contacted me. Two History & Heritage posts ago I wrote about Tom’s search. Then I e-mailed people I thought might be able to help, including musician and owner of Clayton Press, Dave Rouszel, and Beth Woolley, the graphic artist who owns Peaceable Kingdom Memorials in Neptune City.
You may recall that last year Dave published our popular Asbury Park: Where Music Lives anthology that included Gladstone Trott’s ode to ConHall’s theater organ. Dave put me in contact with someone who informed me that G. Howard also played the Grand Avenue Methodist Church organ.
Beth tracked down his bronze marker in the Masonic section of Monmouth Memorial Park in Neptune and took the accompanying photo. She also supplied Tom with leads for finding out more about his great uncle’s military service.
Many thanks to both of you. Your love of history coupled with your civic desire to make sure Asbury Park’s overlooked traditions aren’t lost forever make working with you an enjoyable avocation.
The other person who had only hope left was George Scott, G. Howard’s son and high school alum who years ago had moved to Florida. George also had a computer and, like many of us, occasionally plugged his family name into search engines to see what might come up.
When this post showed up, he sent me e-mail.
In the middle of all the hoopla that was the Garden State Film Festival, we talked. Quite a story there so you can count on another installment! And then I reunited him with his second cousin!
Here’s the latest update from Tom: “When I contacted you, I was hoping to find someone that may have some information on my great uncle G. Howard Scott. I never expected to actually be united with his son George. We have been working together, combining our resources to create a Wikipedia page to honor his father and his successful career. I also look forward to helping George create a website.”
In an era in which we are tempted to wring our hands in despair, I found myself cheered by this journey of lost and found and of the respectful collaboration that is preserving this piece of the city’s rich history.