SEA ISLE CITY - The Townsends Inlet Civic Center used to be a hub of activities, and is a landmark in the southern part of Sea Isle City. The Townsends Inlet Improvement Association has been working to restore the building, circa 1888, and is working to make the center comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act so disabled people have full access to the center.

The King Neptune Festival fundraiser will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the center, 138 85th St., to raise funds to help make the center ADA-compliant.

Louise Clemente, a member of the Townsends Inlet Improvement Association, said she is working with the city to find out what changes the center needs.

"The Civic Center used to be a central place for activities, and still serves the community now," Clemente said. "We envision it to once more be a major part of the community, once all the renovations are complete. Now we just want to raise the funds we need to make the center ADA-compliant. We'd like to see voting in the city come back to the center. We recently formed a committee called 'Keep Voting at the Center' and are working with the Cape May County Board of Elections Registrar Michael Kennedy

to help make the center ADA-complaint to keep voting at the

center where it has been for generations."

Townsends Inlet was founded by Captain Jonathan Townsend, whose home still stands on a hilltop near the inlet. The Civic Center stage is dedicated to him. The architecture of the building was done in the style of Robert Adam, a Scottish architect and designer who lived in the late 1700s and had an essentially decorative style, now known as the Adam style.

"The ornamental style is seen throughout the Civic Center," Clemente said. "There are columns on stage and in the entrance way. They are a beautiful mixture of seashells, human figures and leaves. Tiles are included in a dome on the ceiling of the center and you can see where shuffleboard courts used to be, near the center tiled floor that was used for dancing. This building is worth saving just for the architecture alone. I just love the history of the building."

The King Neptune Festival will include a visit from King Neptune, portrayed by Jim MacMillan, who will open the festival and

then pose for pictures. He will judge the Junior King Neptune Contest for boys ages 2 to 10 and the

Mermaid Contest for girls ages 2 to 10 at 9 a.m. Prizes will be awarded for best dressed Junior King and Mermaid.

A silent auction will take place at 11 a.m. Crafters and vendors also will be part of the festival. Tables are available for $30. A Count the Sea Shells Contest invites people to count the seashells found at the center.

Other upcoming events include: Little Miss Townsends Inlet Contest, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14; Shell Party Dinner, 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, adults $20, children $10. For more information on an event or to register for a vendor table at the King Neptune Festival, call Clemente at 263-3002. Applications are online at

E-mail Debra Rech:

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