The Monmouth County Library, Eastern branch, located at 1001 Hwy 35
in Shrewsbury NJ, is displaying an exhibit about T. Thomas Fortune, an activist
and trailblazer of the modern day Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit features
facts and information on T. Thomas Fortune and his contribution to society,
detailing why his story is relevant to the public and important to our history.
Please check it out, it will be a great learning experience for all ages.
Court Street School Education Community Center
is having a bus trip to visit the
National Museum of African American History and Culture
in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 29th
Cost: $55 per person
Contact Lillie Hendry, 732-462-1064 or
Juliet & Joe Aird, 908-227-1528
Bus departs at 6:45am from the parking lot of the
Monmouth County Courthouse
on Main & Court Street in Freehold
There will be a stop for lunch on the way and a stop for dinner
on the return trip
Bus returns around 9pm
About Court Street School Education Community Center
140 Court Street, Freehold
Court Street School was often called the university on the hill.
The red-bricked schoolhouse perched atop a hill — between
Court Street and Avenue A — remains open for after-school programs,
summer camp and other community services,
but hasn't served as a school since 1974.
Between 1915 and 1948, Court Street School was where black children
from Freehold and beyond were taught through the eighth grade.
It was a university only in colloquial terms.
Textbooks came second-hand from neighboring schools for white children,
their names still scribbled inside. Multiple grades shared a classroom;
teachers taught music in the hallways. And during recess the older girls
taught the younger ones how to cornrow their hair and decorate
it with twigs and acorns.
Court Street School, a formerly segregated school, celebrated
100 years of serving kids in 2015.
This trip is a ending to the year-long centennial celebration,
marking 100 years of service to the community
Court Street School first opened in 1913, down the hill from its current location.
It was a small, one-story wooden building on Avenue A and served black
students in grades one through eight. The Freehold Board of Education formalized
the school in 1915 as it continued educating children of black migrants.
The student population soon outgrew the original building. In 1919, the
department of education built the current structure, just up the hill from the
old building. Kindergarten was also added to the school.
Now called the Court Street School Education Community Center, the building
is one of two still-standing former segregated schools in New Jersey and one of
just five in the Northeast, where Jim Crow restrictions were no stranger.
The Great Migration, the relocation of blacks from the rural South to take
advantage of burgeoning industrial jobs in the North, only boosted enrollment
Long-standing black families in the area combined with new waves of African Americans, heightened the need for Court Street School.
At the time, there were as many as 12 segregated elementary and middle
schools for black children in Monmouth County, but Court Street School was the
only one in the western part of the county.
The two-classroom school then grew to four classrooms, with two or
three grades to a room.
During World War II, Court Street School was used as an air raid shelter and
ration station. It integrated in the early 1950s, serving black and
white students through the third grade.
Court Street School was closed in the 1970s. It was no longer needed after
new schools were built in the area. It was used as a probation office by the
courts and then remained unused until a group of alumni advocated preserving the school.
The building was named a historical place on August 4, 1995. By then, the
Court Street School Education Center Inc. was formed to offer community
programs in the school. The nonprofit received more than $800,000 from
the New Jersey Historic Trust and the Monmouth County Board of
Freeholders to restore the facility.
The T. Thomas Fortune Project is a group of concerned citizens from
throughout New Jersey and beyond who
came together in July 2013 to save the Home of T. Thomas Fortune, a
National Historic Landmark located at 94 Drs. James Parker Blvd
in Red Bank, New Jersey.
On Thursday, July 21, 2016 our dream became a reality when
the Red Bank Zoning Board approved the plan of Roger Mumford
to restore the T. Thomas Fortune house and create 31 apartments on
its one acre property
Mr Mumford has vowed to restore and donate the house for use as
a cultural center before he would seek certificates of occupancy for the apartments
He said he plans to sell the house for $1, in all likelihood to the
T. Thomas Fortune Project
We are proud to have the Red Bank Men’s Club Foundation as the
T. Thomas Fortune Project's fiscal agent.
We are currently in the process of becoming our own 501c non-profit
We have relied on and Thank the support and the generosity of people
who understood the importance of protecting and preserving the rich
history of our community to fulfill our dream of opening this grand home.
We are on our way to restore the house, and create a Cultural Center
dedicated to diversity, advocacy, & tolerance, which will have a vital role in the
town, the county, and the state. .
The Cultural Center would have museum space for permanent exhibits and
space for temporary exhibits. There would be rooms for meetings,
classes, and lectures. The Cultural Center would integrate programming
with schools, community groups, and anyone interested in the Fortune
legacy of advocacy and advancement for everyone.
The Thomas Fortune House is one of the most historically significant
properties in the United States. It is one of only two National
Historic Landmarks (NHL) in New Jersey that is significant because of its
role in African American history.
There are only 57 “National Historic Landmarks” in New Jersey,
and only 2,500 in the entire USA.
In 1901, T. Thomas Fortune purchased a home in Red Bank, NJ
at 94 Beech Street, as it was known then, from 1901 through 1908.
He named his home Maple Hall and resided there until the separation
from his wife in 1906 His wife and children remained in the home until 1915.
It was built by John R Bergen, constructed in stages from 1860 to 1885, with
20th-century additions. James Vaccarelli, Sr bought the property in 1912
and started a bakery in 1918. The bakery operated behind the house until 2001. Originally, it was a two story L-shaped building with a living room, dining room, kitchen, and rear storage room on the first floor and three bedrooms on the
second floor and an unfinished attic.
In 1917 the two story structure was enlarged to provide two additional
bedrooms, a larger kitchen and a larger family dining room. The previous dining
room was converted into the living room, while the living room became a
sitting room. In 1918 a one story bakery was added. It is a perfect example
of "Picturesque Eclecticism" the high Victorian age which borrowed and placed
details from any and every style on the same building. The building demonstrates
eye catching patterns, and picturesque massing. It has its ancestry from the
Italinate Villa, possessing decorative detail more prolific and less disciplined. The
first floor of the structure contains two marble faced fireplaces. A typical building
of this period, it possessed forms of vaguely medieval, vaguely
classical, vaguely Baroque, and Rococo derivations heaped together
to provide a complexity of moods.
According to the Red Bank Register, April 3, 1918. There was a long discussion
in regard to changing the name of the street, which runs from Branch Avenue westward to the river. Although the street is a continuous through fare the eastern end to the rail road tracks is called Bergen Place while the western end is called
Beech Street. This last name was the original name of the entire street and was given by the late John R. Bergen on account of two big beech trees which were in the line of
the street when the street was opened. "If the truth was known the real reason why the street had two names is because the white folks who live on the eastern end didn't want the street to have the same name as the westers end where the colored folks live" said Mr. Charles Irwin. He moved that Bergen Avenue be made the name
of the entire street, but Mayor Patterson did not put the motion and it
was not voted on. The mayor said the matter could be taken up later.
The house has been on the National Register of Historic Buildings, as well as the
state register since the 1970s. It was placed on the
National Register of Historic Places
on December 8, 1976 and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.
on August 16, 1979.
The building was occupied continuously until June 2006, when Ray Vaccarelli, the
last family member living there, died. The street has since been renamed and is
known as Drs James Parker Blvd. Named in honor of two extraordinary
African-American physicians, father and son — Dr. James Parker Sr. and Dr. James Parker Jr. — who together served the Red Bank community for over 80 years.
We invite you to join our e-mail list, email@example.com
and keep up with all we are doing
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Blog: Fortune Redux
Dee Trappil, a fifth grader at Charles Ellis Elementary School,
presents his Black History Month project on T. Thomas Fortune.
A History of Black Achievement In America Ep4
Blacks Enter The Gilded Age
Protecting a Forgotten Legend by Dr. Walter Greason
Group Tries to Save T. Thomas Fortune Home
from Demolition (NJTV News)
An Army of Lions: The Civil Rights Struggle Before the NAACP
By Shawn Leigh Alexander
Disclaimer: This Website is Administered, Edited & Researched by Lynn Humphrey
Committee Member of TTF House Project and
Owner /Administrator of BizEturtle