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Dempsey House in Leonardo Is Worthy of Preservation, Says Township

Middletown officials plan to nominate it for the National Register of Historic Places.

Middletown Township plans to apply for a state grant to pay the cost of preparing The Dempsey House property in Leonardo for nomination on the National Register.

The house is on a wooded lot at 55 Hamilton Avenue in Leonardo, and stands apart in the neighborhood for its distinctive pea stone construction and stone walls fence. 

"It's too irreplaceable," said Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, who is also a professor of archaeology and scholar of Middletown history. 

A resolution passed unanimously by the Township Committee Tuesday night to allow the township to access a state grant in the amount of $9,675 "is a means of protection" for the neighborhood landmark. 

To be considered eligible, a property must meet the criteria for evaluation, which involves study of the property’s age, integrity, and significance.

Scharfenberger said he believed the house was not a residence but a spring house, built over an aquifer around the early 20th century, and probably part of a larger estate. There is no running water in the house, he said. 

It is located between Concord and Appleton Avenues. 

Over the years, stories have been told about the Dempsey House, and some of them are spooky. Read more about the Dempsey House on Patch.   

NJarhead February 20, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Wow. I've always wondered why they didn't do something about that place 30 years ago (though maybe it was a privately owned then). Used to cut through the woods behind it to got to school.
NJarhead February 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Was anyone ever killed in that place? I remember when I was a kid, a rumor that there was a murder there. Always sensed it was BS, but...
MiddletownResident February 20, 2013 at 01:00 PM
Jarhead..rumor i had always heard was it was a cop who killed his family and then himself in there or something to that matter...heard it so long ago when I was a kid I don't remember the rumor that well...I never really checked that rumor out though
Publius February 20, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Only with private contributions. At a time when the Township needs to show fiscal responsibility, this is not something that requires tax payer dollars right now. It even pains me that state funds are going to this project. When does the government stop the excess spending? Oh, wait, I forgot, they can continue to tax us into oblivion. Remember - the people do not answer to the government, the government answers to the people.
beth perez February 20, 2013 at 01:19 PM
You want us to stand behind you while you spend $$ for this...while we all sit in our ruined homes?? Now really isnt the time...
NJarhead February 20, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Kind of lends to the idea of those just being rumors.
John Connolly February 20, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Well since the town can get up money for something like this, I guess that means they will lower our taxes......right?
Belford Bob February 20, 2013 at 02:26 PM
If the Town is getting the money for free and it is not costing the taxpayers of Middletown any money, why not do it?
marylou February 20, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Then how do you explain that white elephant near the train station?
NJarhead February 20, 2013 at 02:58 PM
There's a white elephant near the train station?
Reed E. Hundt February 20, 2013 at 04:13 PM
I hate to break it to you bob - but you pay taxes to the state as well. It is all our money. It should not be wasted on this.
Reed E. Hundt February 20, 2013 at 04:14 PM
The white elephant is the MAC. Another pet project of yet another mayor. No one pays attention to the local elections but they matter. These people get to waste our property taxes. Although the waste at the township level is nothing when compared to the schools.
Peter February 20, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Who has been paying taxes on this property all the years it's sat vacant? Who ever owns it should develop the property - privately. Or does the town own it - then sell it. Cool house and lot. Enough of taking property off the tax rolls.
Publius February 21, 2013 at 12:55 AM
If the Arts Center was a mistake (and I'm not sure it was) - gosh, let's not repeat it on this curiosity. No local or state funds. I agree - an MLS listing it what it needs - "charming older stone house with gardens....."
Paul February 21, 2013 at 03:41 AM
Absurd comment. This grant has no bearing on your situation. It is a grant that is available from the state for this type of project. If Middletown didn't apply, some other town would get it.
Paul February 21, 2013 at 03:43 AM
What does one have to do with the other? This is a grant for a specific purpose. Scary the way some people think.
Paul February 21, 2013 at 03:45 AM
@reed - if you don't like money being used for this, then vote out the Democrats in the legislature. They are the ones who decide this funding. If Middletown didn't apply for this grant, some other town would get it. As long as it is available - I'd rather it go to our town.
Paul February 21, 2013 at 03:48 AM
Using that logic, let's get rid of Marlpit Hall, Poricy Park, put condos on Monmouth Battlefield, bulldoze Mt. Vernon, etc. Let's develop everything. That will surely impeove life for all of us.
NJarhead February 21, 2013 at 12:52 PM
I'd like to know the answer to that as well Peter. To my knowledge (and this is likely outdated info) the Dempsey Family owned the pump house, the house and lands across the street to the East and the big hill and woods to the South. It's more than just the pump house. I doubt many from Leonardo want to see those three parcels develped (especially the long-time residents).
Jennifer Salvo February 21, 2013 at 07:19 PM
The house is owned by the township and listed as a "RECREATION CENTER" The assessed value is $469K and guess what - property taxes are zero.
Flo Melo February 21, 2013 at 09:34 PM
I lived next to the Dempsey pump house for many years. There is no paranormal activity. No was ever killed on the property. The Dempsey family lived across the street on Center Ave. Nice people. My sister planted bamboo on the land and it has taken root. Keep it for Open Space, it is a very unique building.
john jay February 22, 2013 at 02:44 AM
This is just going to cost more tax dollars. Knock it down and sell the property. The proceeds can be used to keep open the small Middletown library branches. Bwahahahahaha!
Kate McKiernan DeNunzio September 08, 2013 at 07:55 PM
It would be great for the town to mark 62 Centre Ave as a historic property too. It is right near the old spring house. It looks to be a captain's house but I do not know it's history. It is for sale and being marketed for the property. Knocking things down and throwing up several big, soulless houses really doesn't improve a town. Open space and character helps with quality of life, your property value and in the end is a worthy investment.

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