Jun 12, 2018

Looking back at the Lincroft Inn – and anticipating the new

By Lori Draz

Middletown Lincroft Inn

It’s never easy saying goodbye to old friends. In recent months, our area has given up vintage gathering spots like the Norwood Inn in Avon, the iconic Circus Diner in Wall, and now the Lincroft Inn in Lincroft to the wrecking ball. These buildings were not just historic sites or navigational landmarks; they were living history – places where people ate, and danced, and made memories for generations.

The Lincroft Inn was a big part of life in the Lincroft corner of Middletown, and since it closed, locals have been looking for a place to meet for lunch and dinner and drinks. They will get that place in the near future. The property was sold to the Hesse Company of Atlantic Highlands in 2016. Hesse, which also owns Lincroft Commons Shopping Plaza, will oversee the demolition and construction of a new eatery, slated to be called the Lincroft Tavern. Company officials said that Lincroft Inn’s structure had undergone so many additions and renovations, and the best choice was to build a new structure, which they said will have the same look and feel as the original.

That’s the present; now for a look at the Lincroft Inn’s past. Middletown was settled by English who migrated from western Long Island and New England, beginning with the 1665 proclamation of the Monmouth Patent by royal governor Richard Nicholls. Monmouth County was organized into municipalities in 1693, and three original townships were formed.

Middletown during Revolutionary times, Middletown residents were deeply divided politically, with some sections supporting the colonials and some loyal to England. In time, sections or neighborhoods formed. Lincroft was initially called Sandy New, giving note to the Sand Hill Indians who lived in the area.

Later it was called Leedsville. At that time, the building was called the Leedsville Inn and served as a popular stop on the Lakewood-to-New York stagecoach line because of its fine well water. Later in the 1800s, the name Leedsville was changed to Lincroft, and the name of the inn changed as well, to the Lincroft Inn.

In 1927, Dante and Mary Daverio became the proprietors. A vintage menu showed the price of a steak sandwich and two Manhattans for just $1. Except for two years, the Inn remained in the Daverio family until it closed two years ago. In total, the Inn underwent eight renovations, including the addition of a flagstone front porch and a banquet room in 1939.

When Connie and Bob Daverio managed the Inn, they expanded the Grill Room and opened the Jefferson Room in 1964, along with a larger kitchen to accommodate parties. In 1977, Terry Daverio took on the property and did a complete kitchen renovation. The Inn was sold in 1989, but it seemed to be in the Daverio genes, because the family again took possession in 1992, renovating it once again.

The Lincroft Inn’s tricentennial was marked in 1997, the same year as completion of The Lincroft Commons shopping center. More renovations came in 2001 and again in 2007.

The inn’s close proximity to Brookdale Community College meant you could always find an interesting mix of guests. Terry’s sister, rock star Debbie Harry, was a frequent visitor. The college’s visiting authors series brought notable writers such as Edward Albee, Maya Angelou, Alan Ginsberg, Joyce Carol Oates, Erica Jong and others.

The Lincroft Inn was also generous in the days after Superstorm Sandy. It became a donation and distribution center for clothing, baby supplies, food and staples for hundreds of displaced families.

Greg Caggiano, Lifelong Learning instructor at Brookdale and a local historian, put the emotions of many into words: “As a historian, it is sad to see a 300-plus-year-old building torn down, especially when that building is a restaurant. Unlike England and some other parts of the world where you can’t go 50 feet without stepping into a 100-plus-year-old pub, here in the States, it is such a rare occurrence. Many dining establishments today lack the character of a historical and storied setting such as the Lincroft Inn. I’m glad we all got to enjoy it.”

The Journal Magazine will follow this story and fill our readers in on upcoming developments. We look forward to having the new Lincroft Tavern come into the neighborhood.

Picture courtesy of Debbie Debartolo and Joann Delfino