An organization called Preservation New Jersey put out a list this month of “10 Most Endangered Places in the Garden State.”

If you never heard of Preservation New Jersey you’re like most people. You may appreciate history but you don’t live, breathe and eat it, so don’t feel bad. I live in Flemington where 60% of the old buildings in town are considered historic and while I appreciate the look of them, I couldn’t go anywhere deep on the subject.

Courtesy Flemington Community Partnership
Courtesy Flemington Community Partnership

The group gets grant money from the New Jersey Historical Commission which in turn is a division of the Department of State. They put out a statement regarding their Top 10 list saying it

spotlights irreplaceable historic, architectural, cultural, and archeological resources in New Jersey that are in imminent danger of being lost. The act of listing these resources acknowledges their importance to the heritage of New Jersey and draws attention to the predicaments that endanger their survival and the survival of historic resources statewide.

Their website explains the places and things they chose for the 10 Most Endangered list are based on the following:

⚫ historic significance and architectural integrity
⚫ the critical nature of the threat identified
⚫ the likelihood that inclusion on the list will have a positive impact on efforts to protect the resource.

Road map of New Jersey

Now here’s the interesting part. I’m betting there’s only one thing on this list the average person will know about and care about. We’ll save that one for last.

Making the list…

St. Paul’s Abbey in Newton, Sussex County

Anderson Farm & House in Bayville, Ocean County

Garden State Gate House in Cherry Hill, Camden County

Orange Memorial Hospital in Orange, Essex County

Homestead Plantation Enslaved Quarters in Clark, Union County

MLK House in Camden, Camden County

Homes in a neighborhood / New Jersey

Joseph Hornor House in Princeton, Mercer County

Urban Historic Districts - Statewide

State Owned and Managed Historic Properties - Statewide

But the one I think most will care about?

Palace Amusements Artifacts in Asbury Park, Monmouth County

Remember that goofy, smiling face named Tillie, the very symbol of Asbury Park, New Jersey? It’s among artifacts left from Palace Amusements that have gotten a very raw deal.

Tillie sits on top of the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ
Google Maps

Palace Amusements first opened as a carousel house in 1888. It was one of only 400 amusement parks to survive the Great Depression. By 1955 the park expanded to include a fun house and bumper cars. For many years that symbol Tillie, the face logo, greeted visitors with its both amusing and haunting expression.

In 2000 Palace Amusements was recognized by the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Then developers moved in. Asbury Park desperately needed to re-invent itself and it’s done a noble job of it.

But before the wrecking crews came through the deal was struck with the city that artifacts from Palace Amusements (26 metal channel letters, two signs, two decorative wooden cutouts, and three large wall murals including Tillie) were to be carefully stored and preserved and were to be later reused and displayed in new buildings.

It hasn’t happened. And as the years tick by Tillie and other artifacts still sitting in storage are certainly on the endangered species list. There are still pleas to public officials to return these iconic artifacts to the public’s view.

Long live Tillie.

Google Maps
Google Maps

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