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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 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 To my knowledge (and this is likely outdated info) the Dempsey Family owned the pump house, the house and lands across the street to the East and the big hill and woods to the South.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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