Group: Iconic ‘Judge’s Shack’ could be destroyed in next big storm

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An iconic piece of the Jersey Shore could be destroyed by a bad storm, according to a New Jersey group.

The Judge’s Shack is a 108-year-old sportsman shack nestled in the sand dunes in Island Beach State Park. It is one of the most photographed spots in New Jersey and has appeared in L.L. Bean catalogues and in calendars.

The nonprofit group Friends of the Judge’s Shack says that the building is in danger of being destroyed if New Jersey experiences another large storm. The group works with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to care for Judge’s Shack.

“It's a rare survivor of a type. It's probably the best preserved sportsman's fishing shack on the coast,” says group member Bill Bolger. “There are a couple in museums. But this is really unusual to have one that's never been modernized, never been transformed in any way.”

The Judge’s Shack was built in 1911. In 1942 it was bought by Richard Hartshorne, a federal judge from East Orange for $200. The judge renovated it to make it a weekend family retreat. The Hartshorne family used it until the early 2000s, and then turned the deed over to the nonprofit group.

The Judge’s Shack and the sand dunes are off limits to the public for visits because they are not sturdy enough. There are some thoughts about moving the shack to a safe spot.

Bolger says that the shack could be in danger of a storm. He says that the surf line was 100 feet farther away when the shack was first built.

“A good nor’easter could take this out. What happens in the end, I think is particularly up to nature,” he says.

Although the shack is off limits to the public, the DEP does lead weekly moonlight hikes near it in the summer. Those hikes include a bonfire on the beach and a discussion of the shack’s history.

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