MIDDLETOWN –The Middletown Township Historical Society will present Glenn LeBoeuf’s debut presentation of “Shadow Lawn: The Downton Abbey of the Jersey Shore” at its 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 21, meeting.
LeBoeuf, one of the society’s regular speakers, will examine the history of one of New Jersey’s most important houses, now the center of Monmouth University, his alma mater.
The meeting will be held at the nature center at Poricy Park, 345 Oak Hill Road.
Those attending will see a PowerPoint presentation that offers tragedy and triumph at nearly every turn beginning with John A. McCall, who built the first Shadow Lawn in 1903, then lost it as he was caught up in a life insurance scandal. Woodrow Wilson used the place to conduct his front porch re-election campaign in 1916, the election in which he went to bed thinking he had lost, only to arise the next morning to learn that he had won.
Shadow Lawn I was destroyed by fire in 1927.
The present Shadow Lawn was completed in 1930 by the “poor little rich people,” Hubert and Maysie Parson, whose wealth and domestic splendor could not get them a pass into society. He, too, lost the palace dubbed “the Versailles of American” after age-forced retirement as president of Woolworth’s. He died two weeks after the splendid furnishings were auctioned in 1940.
After a checkered existence in its middle age, Shadow Lawn II was rescued by Monmouth University. The building, which was a location in the 1982 film “Annie,” was designated a National Historic Landmark, the highest honor of recognition for a historic site.
Visitors are welcome. Refreshments will be served.