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T. Thomas Fortune House receives 2018 Planning Merit Award

The Monmouth County Planning Board presented the award to Roger Mumford Homes and French and Parrello Associates on December 17.

RED BANK, NJ – The Monmouth County Planning Board recently presented the T. Thomas Fortune House with the 2018 Planning Merit Award in recognition of an outstanding public-private partnership for the adaptive reuse of a historic structure and preservation of community character.

Established in 1984, the Monmouth County Planning Board’s Planning Merit Award Program recognizes those plans, projects, programs, municipalities, businesses, community leaders and stakeholder organizations that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of planning and planning outcomes in Monmouth County. “The board commends all responsible for the restoration of the T. Thomas Fortune House, a vital cultural asset and National Historic Landmark,” said James Giannell, Chairman of the Monmouth County Planning Board.

Roger Mumford Homes, alongside project engineer Brian Decina of French and Parrello Associates accepted the award. “This project is meaningful to me because it represented an opportunity to contribute to a more inclusive society,” said Mumford. “The cultural center will serve to introduce students and others to T Thomas Fortune, a brilliant man who many consider to be the bridge to the modern civil rights movement.

Prior to the idea of restoring the home, I enjoyed the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. I believe the country would be well served if this book was required reading in every high school because at the end of the day, each of us does better when we rise as a society.”

The restoration of the T. Thomas Fortune House (also known as Maple Hall) commenced just over three years ago when Roger Mumford reached out to Gilda Rogers of the Fortune group and communicated that he had an idea to “solve their problem” and restore and preserve the original T. Thomas Fortune house. Located in West Red Bank, the home is one of only two National Historic Landmarks in New Jersey that are devoted to African American history. Mumford offered to restore the home and donate it as a cultural center in conjunction with the construction of Fortune Square, 31 rental residences on its one-acre piece of property.

“It was a logical solution to a multi-faceted problem and aligned deeply with my own personal beliefs,” said Mumford. “This project is not just about restoring a building, it is essentially one small effort to confront the divisiveness we have been experiencing as a nation.” The home was in an advanced level of decay, and the structural engineers at French and Parrello were key to the effort. In addition, French and Parrello prepared the overall site plan for the project.

Roger Mumford Homes developed plans to preserve the structure and honor T. Thomas Fortune by rehabilitating the home as the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. The project consists of the restoration of the entire property, along with an entry area with benches and a monument commemorating Fortune, parking areas for visitors, internal walkways circulating the site, and an apartment building to the rear that incorporates the French Mansard style of Maple Hall.

“The T. Thomas Fortune House is a very significant property,” said Mumford. “This man was a true visionary and it is my great privilege to help honor his legacy by restoring the property to its former glory.”

The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center will celebrate its formal unveiling in February 2019 during Black History Month. To learn more, visit RogerMumfordHomes.com.

The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center

About Roger Mumford Homes

Roger Mumford Homes was founded in 2005 by Roger Mumford, former President and Co-founder of the Matzel & Mumford Organization, which built over 75 new home communities in New Jersey. The builder has since earned multiple awards in recognition of its excellence in design and detail, reinforcing its brand and reputation. To learn more, please visit RogerMumfordHomes.com or call 732‑842‑1580.