Freeman’s Funeral Home in Freehold NJ, owns the property next door to them.
On that property is the historic Christopher House.
The Christopher House is a Greek Revival building that was built between 1830 and 1840 and the last of this type on Main Street.
Although covered in plastic siding, the building was leased out to some local business’ and was a nice addition to Main Street Freehold.
It is surprising most of the historic character has been maintained by the owner of Freeman’s Funeral Home because the funeral parlor is also in a historic building.
As you can see in the photo, the architecture of the current funeral home was remuddled and covered with cheap looking plastic siding, plastic windows, shutters, and fake stone.
Unfortunately there was an oil tank under the Christopher House that was leaking.
The oil tank was apparently located under the house which seems odd, yet the leak could have been remediated.
One option stated in the local newspaper was to elevate the house and do the remediation before the oil leak became worse. The cost could have gone as high as $90K.
If the cost was to be this high one would think the borough could assist with the clean-up costs for such an important Main Street building. However this was enough for the Land Use Committee and the Council to approve demolition.
The Freehold Historic Preservation Commission, known for allowing demolition to historic buildings surprisingly opposed the demolition. They opposed the demolition because there was no solid evidence of a leak. The Historic Preservation Commission argued that this must be referred to the Planning Board but the Council ignored this request. (Thanks for trying HPC) One wonders why the Council would ignore the HPC in favor of demolition. Something here seems very fishy. Of course we will never know if anything was discussed behind closed doors?
Here is a newspaper article stating the lack or evidence and speculative information presented on behalf of Freeman’s Funeral Home. Click here.
Here is a later newspaper article stating that the Council has authority to demolish the historic building without looking into it further. Click here.
The historic building was demolished very soon after. The oil leak turned out to be very minor and was cleaned up in less than a day. Sod was laid down immediately after, so quickly that no one hardly saw anything.
A landmark building on a downtown Main Street was allowed to be demolished with hardly a blink of an eye. This is proof that the Freehold council does not care about the few historic buildings remaining, but they do care about catering to a business that has a big name in town and didn’t want them to pay the high price of remediation. This is how Freeman’s Funeral Home and the government of Freehold operate.
I just wonder what is next to be added to a long list of historic demolitions in town. Demolitions that should never have been allowed but were. Money is more important than history. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. There are a few trees planted there now and a flag.
In a few years I am sure we will see that piece of property being used for funeral parlor parking. If not that, a new building in a Disneyland historic style will be built like there is up the street. It will be all plastic and everyone will say how nice it looks. Simple-mindedness has effected the masses, including architects when it comes to architecture.
Another Greek Revival building directly across the street was also lost a few years ago. Read about the historic Richmond House and how Freehold demolishes history.
Sadly there is more. A homeowner gets awarded for remuddling their home .
What’s next Freehold?
Eric Glass says
It’s common in New England to have the furnace’s oil tank in the basement. That way the oil line won’t freeze. Usually homes without basements have the tank outside. Then an additive has to be put in the tank to keep the oil in the line from getting too thick in winter. It seems extreme to suggest jacking up the house just to deal with a rusted out oil tank. We looked at a home when we were house hunting that had had an oil leak in the basement. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap to fix, but it didn’t require raising the house! The remaining oil is pumped out of the tank which is then cut up and hauled away. We could see where new concrete was laid on the floor where the old tank had been. They would have had to jackhammer out the old concrete that had absorbed the oil from the old tank before pouring new concrete. End of story. On the face of it, it seems someone just wanted an excuse to tear the old house down.
Ray Unseitig says
Looks like someone wanted the property, and oil tank was a good excuse. Money talks, and politicians like money.
Ray Unseitig says
Looks like some shady deals, to me.
L Flires says
They just wanted to put up a parking lot so any excuse will do! They could have sold the house for a dollar and kept it. What was the “big rush”?
Christopher O'Donnell says
Maybe this type of issue needs to be visited by a higher authority, county or state for example, so that hopefully any monetary influences might be omitted from the equation when it comes to preservation and the greater good. Also consider a way for the public to be made much more aware before such things take place, not letting decisions to be made ” behind closed doors” as stated in the original post. It’s amazing to me that in a place like Freehold and Monmouth county, with all its Revolutionary War history, Monmouth Battlefield, etc., the local government and community in general aren’t much more aggressively seeking to preserve its history.
Ken Roginski says
Actually the Historic Preservation Commission was started as a result of a historic home being demolished by a developer. Freehold historic gem was the American Hotel which dates back to the early 1800’s and there was fear that something would happen to that building so the HPC was formed. Not long after that it was discovered by T & C Contractors that there were structural issues and the building had to be closed and demolished. This was all done very quickly. The truth of the matter is that T&C Contractors does not know anything about historic buildings. They actually have their business in a historic building that they destroyed. The then rebuilt is very similar but I can list lots of bad design. The put a tin roof on the ceiling of the porch and all the simple minded locals think it’s beautiful.
However since the HPC was started the town has lost even more homes. https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x89c3d46772326069%3A0x464533e74d866a9b!2m22!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i20!16m16!1b1!2m2!1m1!1e1!2m2!1m1!1e3!2m2!1m1!1e5!2m2!1m1!1e4!2m2!1m1!1e6!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipNQxOhmw9LTiCMMvoIf31ejzPv0raS1xaUCaF7m%3Dw659-h440-k-no!5samerican%20hotel%20freehold%20-%20Google%20Search!15sCAQ&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipNQxOhmw9LTiCMMvoIf31ejzPv0raS1xaUCaF7m&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjQ99_f-9XiAhWlr1kKHXGnCbYQoiowDnoECAkQBg
J howcott says
You don’t have to use freeman to bury your loved ones , this reeks as all business .
Dee burtnick says
It’s the same way I felt about the home next to me on conover road just before you get to route 34 incolts neck, it was built by the Dutch builder ii think his name was covenhoven I’m not sure but it was an old but beautiful home. After the historical society in Colts neck found out about it, they donated the brick outhouse lmao what s concession. The house is gone forever to build a big mansion and do is the history forever.
G. Schoch says
Another example of Rethuglican politics at work in Monmouth Co. Chris Smith being a prime example.
Ed King says
The ONLY way to prevent the tear down of an officially (must be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places) historic building is the have an historic easement placed on the deed by the State of NJ. Town councils, planning boards and historic commissions CAN NOT prevent a demolition without the easement. HOWEVER if a town has an historic preservation ordinance, it’s historic commission can strongly influence the replacement structure especially if variances are needed for the new structure. This is where Freehold missed the boat on the Richmond House. The replacement building is an eyesore.
Ed King says
The N J Historic Trust is where one goes to put an historic easement on a structure. The structure must be acceptable to the Trust as the State is responsible to see that the building(s) isn’t demolished or inappropriately altered.