The Seaside Heights Historical Society officially exists.
Last week, the borough council formed the new organization that will function like most local towns’ historical societies, though in Seaside Heights it will have a dual purpose of serving as a nonprofit organization to help raise funds to build a new home for the historic 1910 Dentzel-Looff carousel, which must be relocated from its current home at Casino Pier. Borough officials recently had a meeting with the State House Commission, the body which signed off on the land swap deal with the pier that allowed the borough to take ownership of the carousel and an oceanfront plot of land on which a museum to host it will eventually be constructed.
“They’re going to have us come back in December, and when we go back they’re expecting us to present a very solid plan on what we’re building, when we’re building it and how we’re financing it,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz.
In mid-October, a team from Ohio will arrive in town to disassemble the carousel. From there it will be brought to a warehouse where it will be decided which portions can be restored in place by volunteers and which require a professional touch.
“We’ll be able to start getting some of the work done on the horses with volunteers, and they’re going to determine which pieces need to be brought back to Ohio to do some real involved work,” Vaz said.
The newly-formed Seaside Heights Historical Society will be in charge of a Friends of the Carousel committee, which will host fundraiser and seek corporate sponsorships that will allow the town to build the museum and new exhibit.
Vaz said the borough currently has two applications pending for grant funding for the project: a $1.5 million Green Acres grant and a $750,000 New Jersey Historic Trust grant. Both, however, require matching funds which the Historical Society will try to raise.
Additionally, the organization will function much like those in other towns, with the goal of keeping Seaside Heights’ history alive.
“We really wanted to do this for the 100th anniversary celebration in 2013, but we ended up having the boardwalk fire a few days later,” said Vaz. “It was definitely time for a historical society, so we formed one.”
Vaz himself is a local history aficionado who frequently posts historic photos, records and other items to social media.
It’s still unclear exactly what types of fundraising efforts will be undertaken by the organization – it’s only a week old and there has been one Board of Trustees meeting – but the borough is still looking for volunteers and officials are hoping events will be planned soon.