(ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ) -- If you have ever attended a show at 149 Monmouth Avenue or live in the Atlantic Highlands area, there is a very good chance that you know that the Monmouth Players are “The oldest community theater in Monmouth County.” Paul, Lori and the Monmouth Players Board of Directors never minds pointing it out. After all, 63 seasons is a reason to be proud.
What you may not know is that the building that houses the Monmouth Players, the Navesink Arts Center is 100 years old this year! Built in 1917 in the Colonial Revival style the building was erected by Ellen W. Duryea as a memorial to her husband Herman B. Duryea a noted sportsman who had spent his boyhood in the area.
Mr. Duryea was a descendant of the founders of the Duryea Motor Car Company which had manufacturing facilities in Elizabeth, NJ. Herman Duryea had a residence on Long Island and a thoroughbred farm in Maryland but Navesink was his favorite place to spend time.
The building has always been privately owned and operated by a nonprofit group evolving through time from the Duryea Foundation, the Navesink Duryea Library Association, and now the Navesink Arts Center. The original endowment from Mrs. Duryea survives to this day.
The building housed a reading room, a gymnasium with a stage, and a bowling alley in the basement. The library was founded in 1921 and became part of the Middletown Public Library through 2013. Today the original reading room is much as it was originally and is used as a lobby for the theater, a small performance space, a meeting room for various community groups, and an exhibit space. The gymnasium is now exclusively used as a theater by the Monmouth Players, and the bowling alleys are now a part of the theater’s “green room.”
The Arts Center will be celebrating their Anniversary with a Gala Event later in the Fall, but don’t be surprised to see other pop up events throughout the season. The Centennial anniversary will be celebrated often and celebrated well! Keep an eye out for the upcoming Centennial Celebration Gala sometime in October and other events throughout the season.
Next up for the Arts Center is Monmouth Players final mainstage event for the season, Noel Coward’s Private Lives with show dates on April 1, 8, 21 and 22 at 8:15 pm and three matiness on April 2, 9 and 23 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $20 general admission, $17 for seniors and students and $10 for Veterans. Reservations can be made by calling (732)291-9211
On the evening of Monday, April 24 at 8:15 pm they will be honoring Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day with a collection of poetry, stories and music written by or for victims of the Holocaust. They will be honoring the indomitable spirit of Holocaust survivors and the memory of those that perished. Please call for reservations.
The Navesink Arts Center is located at 149 Monmouth Avenue, Atlantic Highlands, NJ.