(courtesy of The Press of Atlantic City)

Doo-wop museum in Wildwood due this summer

From Press staff reports

Published: Saturday, April 22, 2006
Updated: Sunday, April 23, 2006

WILDWOOD — The sky was overcast and drops of rain were starting to appear Friday, but Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. could see brighter days ahead.

Standing before a crowd of doo-wop enthusiasts, Troiano said he could picture a summer night under the stars, 80 degree weather and music lovers enjoying a concert in the town's new band shell/amphitheater.

His words kicked off a groundbreaking ceremony for the band shell and doo-wop museum planned for Fox Park on Ocean Avenue.

The band shell and museum will be housed in the steel structure of what was once the Surfside Restaurant, a popular eatery built in 1960 and known for its pastel colors and angular rooflines, a doo-wop signature.

The restaurant was dismantled in 2002 and its steel frame was stored in a warehouse until the Doo Wop Preservation League could find a way to bring it back to life.

Now, the it will be resurrected as a doo-wop museum complete with an open amphitheater and an adjacent “doo-wop garden” made up of the island's classic neon signs.

On Friday, Troiano credited the Byrne Fund for Wildwood Inc. for donating about $425,000 to the project and he thanked the Fox family for the park, which has been here for decades.

Betty Fox, daughter-in-law of the park's namesake, Edward Z. Fox, was thrilled, particularly about the prospect of concerts being held in the park.

The Surfside also was part of her family's history, she said.

“My daughter, Susan, worked there when she was in college. She will be thrilled about this,” Fox said.

Troiano, said the recreation spot would be a place for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.

He also recognized preservation league founder Jack Morey for working to preserve the island's collection of 1950s and 1960s motels and other buildings known for their neon signs, kidney-shaped pools, jutting roofs and exotic themes.

“You saw what a lot of people didn't see,” Troiano said. “It is definitely worth saving.”

And on that note Troiano had to thank neighboring Wildwood Crest, the former home of the Surfside.

“Thanks Wildwood Crest for allowing us to steal their building,” he joked.

Construction is expected to begin in two weeks and Troiano said the museum and amphitheater could be ready for use by the Fourth of July.