BERKELEY – The iconic dinosaur that has stood out on Route 9 in Bayville for decades is being redesigned, and the group says it could be started next year.
The dinosaur has had some rough days in recent years, even losing its original head. A Committee to Restore the Bayville Dinosaur was formed to oversee its reconstruction. The building it called home, Heritage Square Professional Center, was purchased and was undergoing renovation, which made people wonder what the dino’s fate was going to be.
Steve Baeli, chairman of the committee, said that he met with the property owners, Anthony and Lisa Zangari, and Shannon MacDonald, an artist who had been retained to remake the dinosaur. She presented her rendering to the group.
“The consensus was that the rendering was excellent, both artistically and historically, as it balanced and melded those two vital elements in a way that complimented each other,” Baeli said in a press release.
The Zangaris had wanted to wait until they got through the reconstruction of the building before deciding what to do with the landmark, he said.
The dinosaur was not built for Bayville, nor was this storefront the first one it “lived” at. It was built as part of the 1925 silent film, “The Lost World,” which makes it about 92 years old, Baeli said. The owner of the Tearoom on Route 9 in Howell, Eugene Danacher, bought it and used it at the entrance of his establishment. After he died in 1935, William Farrow bought it for $5, and set it up in front of his taxidermy shop where it resides today.
According to Farrow’s daughter Norma Rush, he would leash a live monkey to the dinosaur. It would steal people’s hats and bring them inside, forcing people to come into the store and see the wares.
This new design won’t be the first remodel for the old dino. It was originally a wooden frame covered in chicken wire and then cement, Baeli said. Farrow had made some changes throughout its history, adding or removing spikes at different times, for example. When Fred Brzozowski, owner of B&L Upholstery, bought it from Farrow in 1961, he stripped it down and put a new skin on it. He also built the base that it stands on now. He also changed the head somewhat, and added lighted green eyes and a red mouth.
The final changes weren’t so aesthetic as much as mandatory. The dino had been hit by vehicles several times, but the last time, in 2015, is what caused the town to have to rebuild it.
The Committee to Restore the Bayville Dinosaur is made up of Mayor Carmen Amato, Councilman Jim Byrnes, Historical Society president Jim Fosbre, the Berkeley Township Policemen’s Benevolent Association, represented by Detective David Burke, and the Berkeley Township Citizens Group, represented by Baeli.
The committee thanked residents who helped support the mission to “restore the roar.”
“We are excited to be moving forward on the project,” Amato said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and support. Everyone will be extremely pleased at the finished product.”
Due to weather concerns, the work will likely begin in spring, he said.