The Wishing Well from the landmark Mayfair Theatre in Asbury Park now has a new home and a permanent resting place at the Stephen Crane House in Asbury Park..
“The Palumbo family gave us the well about eight to 10 years ago but we never had anywhere to permanently place it,” Asbury Park Historical Society President Don Stine said.
Local contractor Henry Vaccaro moved the concrete well- that weighs approximately 500 pounds and has a wrought-iron crown- with a forklift several years ago to a residential lawn on Second Avenue. The Palumbo family needed to move it since they were selling their Sunset Avenue home, where the well had been located since 1974.
“And there is stayed until we acquired the Crane House late last year. Now the well has a new home,” Stine said.
He said it took six men and the use of another forklift donated by Sam Vaccaro, owner of the Hardware Store of Asbury Park and Henry’s brother, to move the well again- this time to the front yard of the Crane House.
“Hopefully this will be the last time we have to move it. That is not an easy task and I can’t thank Sam and Henry enough. Without their forklifts we probably could not have done this,” Stine said.
Peter Palumbo Jr., who now lives in Pennsylvania, said his father, Peter Palumbo, who worked for Walter Reade for about 36 years, saved the Wishing Well in 1974 when the majestic theatre was torn down.
“It’s a memento of the Mayfair. I know my father wanted to save it and didn’t want it destroyed. He wanted something through which he could remember the theatre. I hope people enjoy it. I know if my father was alive to see it, he’d really appreciate people enjoying it,” he said.
Stine said the well will now be power-washed and then painted. The wrought iron top will be sent out for repair.
“It’s an interesting artifact of the bygone days of Asbury Park’s grand and popular theatre district,” he said.
The Mayfair Theatre, at the intersection of Lake Avenue and St. James Place, was the flagship theater of the Walter Reade chain. At one time, Reade has six theatres in Asbury Park: The Mayfair, St. James, Lyric, Ocean (later The Baronet), Paramount and Savoy. He eventually had a chain of about 40 theatres and drive-ins throughout the New Jersey/New York area.
The 1,800-seat Mayfair Theatre, built in a Spanish-Moorish style and designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb, opened on August 5, 1927 by showing “Blood Ship”. The theatre was famous for its cloud machine that would cast flowing clouds onto the overhead sky panorama.
It closed on Sept.8, 1974 with Walt Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Fantasia” being its last movies. The theatre was demolished in November/December 1974 after a grassroots effort to save it fell through.