View Full Version : Save an Historic 18th Century Tavern... Old Time Tavern

12-17-2008, 04:36 PM
Anita, whose sister Anna is mentioned in the article, had contacted right before Thanksgiving regarding this and today it was in the Asbury Park Press. We really need to save The Old Time Tavern - an historic restaurant in Toms River that dates back to the 18th Century. It used to sit in downtown Toms River where the 7 Eleven is now - diagonal from Huddy Park. It was moved to it's current location. It is really sad to see it closed.

Local landmark's days may be numbered (http://www.app.com/article/20081217/NEWS02/812170368/1001/NEWSFRONT&referrer=NEWSFRONTCAROUSEL)
Old Time Tavern shut; may be razed for road project
By Hartriono B. Sastrowardoyo
December 17, 2008

TOMS RIVER After 80 years, the Old Time Tavern has closed. And time might be running out for the building itself, which contains portions of an 18th century hotel, at the southwest corner of Main Street and Presidential Boulevard.

Officials for the state Department of Transportation plan to widen Main Street to two lanes in each direction.

"The state's design does not impact the building as it currently exists," said Erin Phalon, a spokeswoman for the DOT.

But plans are to use property on the west side of the road for the widening, where the Old Time Tavern is located, along with the adjacent Dover Mall shopping center. Additionally, the agency plans to realign Presidential Boulevard to face Old Freehold Road across the highway.

Construction is scheduled to start in spring 2014.

"If they tear it down, part of our history will disappear," said 55-year-old Anna Citta, a township resident. Her father, James F. Citta, owned the Old Time Tavern until 1976, when he sold it to Donato "Dan" D'Onofrio of Toms River, who also purchased Dover Mall.

According to published histories, a lodging establishment known as Barkalow's Hotel, named after owner Thomas P. Barkalow, was built in 1787, at the northwest corner of Water and Main streets, a site now occupied by a convenience store. In time, it became known as the Toms River Inn and then the Ocean House hotel. When Ocean County was formed in 1850, the first Board of Freeholders meeting was held at Ocean House.

In the late 1930s, Joseph Citta, James' cousin, owned the Old Time Tavern on Main Street. The establishment was managed by James' brother Edward Citta. Edward went into the service, and James was asked to manage the place. After a short time, James asked the Old Time Tavern be sold to him.

A little more than 10 years later, with the arrival of the Garden State Parkway through Toms River, bringing with it a population boom, James realized the Old Time Tavern needed to expand.

Also at that time, the Ocean House was slated to be torn down and a supermarket erected in its place. In 1952, James, realizing the historic value of the old hotel, decided to save the oldest part and moved it next to his house, becoming the "new" Old Time Tavern, where it stands today. The portion that was saved became the dining room and southeast part of the tavern after considerable renovation.

Since D'Onofrio owned the tavern, the building has again been renovated as well as expanded. There has been also at least two fires, in 1986 and in 1994.

But it's not those factors that is limiting Old Time Tavern's preservation. It's money.

"The Tuckerton Seaport has a policy where we do accept historic buildings," said Timothy G. Hart, the maritime museum's executive director.

The seaport has room for about another 20 buildings. "But, in addition to making an application, they (people making the request) have to pay the fees in moving and relocating the building," Hart said.

Hart, who also serves as vice president of the Ocean County Historical Society and president of a similar organization in Stafford, said there is no room at the Ocean County Museum and Research Center in Toms River. And moving a two-story building is expensive, he said.

"In the '90s, $20,000 was raised, with another $30,000 in services, to move a one-story building" and restore it, Hart said of the Manahawkin Train Station, which went from Letts and Stafford avenues to Heritage Park on West Bay Avenue.

Citta is both resigned and saddened that the Old Time Tavern might not be saved.

"We're aware of progress; we just want people to be aware of its (the Old Time Tavern's) significance," she said.

Clinging to hope however, Citta added: "And if it can be moved once, it can be moved again."

Hartriono B. Sastrowardoyo: (732) 557-5705 or harts@app.com

A bit of history...

Toms River was chartered in 1767. Twenty years later, what became known as the Ocean House hotel was erected as Barkalow's Hotel at the corner of Water and Main streets, serving as a stagecoach stop between Freehold and Tuckerton, as well as to Burlington County and Philadelphia, according to published reports.

When the Ocean County Board of Freeholders first convened on May 8, 1850, it was at the Ocean House. It also is said Ulysses S. Grant dictated a portion of his memoirs while staying at the Ocean House. George Gould, whose estate became Georgian Court University in Lakewood, was another frequent visitor to the hotel.

The Ocean House was demolished in 1952. The oldest portion was saved, however, and moved to its current location near Main Street (Route 166) and Presidential Boulevard.

08-18-2009, 11:53 AM
To conclude this story. I received many call backs from folks in positions of authority, who wanted to help in some way, or to guide our family to the right channels. But...
The Old Time Tavern was leveld and buried quickly after this article appeared in the Asbury Park Press. It was during the Christmas Holiday week (Dec 29, 2008). Interesting enough, the abandoned Dover shopping plaza still stands, and the sign remains standing from the OLd Time Tavern. Unfortunatly,It seems, the owners wanted no part in preserving the Historical value of a 18th Century Inn. They were instructed by P and Z that in order to make a new Mall, The Old Time would have to go .
It is as though it never existed...

This is being Submitted to the Editor of About NewJersey. Thank you for the interest you have in our beautiful state, and particularly in the preservation of the Old Time Tavern... I felt as though, I was not alone in our concern to save local history, and, collectively we could have made it work.
Thank you.