Fifty-two years ago this month, the Monmouth Shopping Center (now the Monmouth Mall) was dedicated on February 12, Lincoln’s Birthday, to “the famous Americans of Monmouth County-past, present and future.” The Red Bank Register Reported at the time that those words were inscribed in marble over a time capsule which was placed at the base of the center's three flag poles. Several photos from that day are seen here in the photo gallery.
As part of the dedication ceremony, local Boys Scouts, Explorer Scouts and Cub Scouts from Eatontown placed objects from the past into the time capsule including a financial ledger kept between 1817 and 1833 by Peter D. Vroom, who was a former governor of New Jersey and a land purchase document written in 1783 by Maj. David Forman, a Revolutionary War veteran. Both men were Monmouth County residents. Objects representing the present and the future were also placed into the time capsule including a architectural plan of the center and a copy of the than newest Boy Scout Handbook.
As you can see from some of the photos, the site was well marked and believed to be in the area that is now a parking lot boarded by JC Penney (to the west), the underground entrance to the mall (directly in front of it to the north) and the part of the mall which houses the mall offices to the east. Winding the clock ahead 50 years brings us to 2011 when Eatontown resident and current Eatontown Museum President Kathy English saw a post on a Facebook page called “Growing Up In Eatontown” that contained information about the Monmouth Shopping Center's dedication. Upon further research, Kathy found an article in the Feb. 29, 1960 edition of the Red Bank Register which detailed the dedication of the shopping center as well as details about the time capsule. Those articles can be viewed at this link stating on page 21 which is the first page of section 2 of that day's paper.
Although the exact location of the time capsule was in question, conversations with people who were present that day have led to the almost certain conclusion that it was in the area described above which is believed to have been paved over to provide additional parking when the shopping center expanded and became the Monmouth Mall in the mid-1970’s.
The mystery deepens!!! Despite the best efforts by Kathy and other members of the museum, the contents of the time capsule not only have not been located, nobody has been found who could even provide a hint as to what might of happened to them. The best guess is that the time capsule was removed when the parking lot was expanded to its present state.
So this is where help is needed from Patch readers. If you or someone you know worked at the mall in the early/mid 1970’s, worked for the company that owned the mall or might have worked on construction at the mall during that time, the Eatontown Museum would like to hear from you if you can help solve the mystery.
You can leave a message at 732-542-4026 and of course comments/information are also welcome right here on Patch.
Another article in the Red Bank Register regarding the mall is from the March 2, 1960 edition which detailed the opening day of the Monmouth Shopping Center one day earlier:
On August 16, 1975 a special section of that edition (starting on page 21) detailed the Monmouth Shopping Center becoming the Monmouth Mall.