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HAUNTED MANSION OF LONG BRANCH

HISTORY

Haunted Mansion in winter

The Haunted Mansion was located on the Long Branch Pier, which was situated at 65 Ocean Avenue in Long Branch, New Jersey.   The history of the mansion starts with Pat Cicalese, a local businessman who owned the water slide and beach club across from the Long Branch Pier.  Pat, who was a friend of Carmen Ricci, was involved in the amusement industry of Long Branch since the 1960s.  When Carmen Ricci wanted to build Brigantine Castle in Brigantine, NJ, he went to Pat for financial support.  Pat decided to help fund Brigantine Castle, which was completed in May of 1976.  Pat was so amazed at the success of Brigantine Castle, that he decided to visit the attraction to get ideas for Long Branch. 

[Pat Cicalese]

Pat Cicalese

After visiting Brigantine Castle, Pat asked Carmen Ricci to come to Long Branch and help him build a similar attraction at the Long Branch Pier.  After some planning, Carmen came up with the idea of the Haunted Mansion.  The two men formed a partnership and started a company called Ric-Cic Incorporated.  The company also consisted of Carmen's brother, Thomas Ricci, who would help develop the Long Branch Mansion and pier.  

Although Pat Cicalese owned the water slide and beach club across from the Long Branch pier, the pier itself was owned by the Sowul family.  In 1977, Pat and Carmen Ricci leased the pier from the Sowuls with an option to buy it.  Ric-Cic then spent one million dollars building the three story mansion and renovating other parts of the pier.  In 1978, the completed 10,000 square feet mansion opened to much success.  The pier also consisted of an arcade, a fishing pier, and 50 other concessions.  Ric-Cic bought the entire pier from the Sowul family in May of 1979.

[Thomas Ricci next to pier]

Thomas Ricci, former co-owner of the Haunted Mansion,  stands by a pier addition in 1979.

The Haunted Mansion was advertised heavily in New York as the world's largest haunted attraction.  The heavy advertising lured crowds of up to 100,000 a week to the Long Branch boardwalk.  In 1980, Pat Cicalese bought out Carmen and Thomas Ricci's share of the Long Branch Pier and Haunted Mansion.  Pat continued to develop and expand the pier and mansion.  He contributes much of the mansion's success to his excellent managers, Lil Grauman and Annie Rielley.

LONG BRANCH PIER
A picture of the Long Branch Amusement Pier from the late 70s.  The top of the Haunted Mansion can be seen in the middle of the picture.

In 1985, Pat re-themed the Long Branch pier as "Kid's World" after being inspired by Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA.  He started a pay-once system which is now common at most amusement parks.  Since the re-themed pier was geared toward younger children, the scare-factor of the mansion had to be scaled down.  The mansion  continued to employ live actors, but the scenes became more "family friendly." 

[Kid's World Pennant]

A Kid's World Pennant featuring Sandy the Sea Lion, the official mascot of Kid's World.  Bret Malone provided us with this picture.

The Long Branch Pier met its demise on June 8th, 1987 when a fire destroyed most of the pier and the surrounding businesses.  It was later determined that the fire was started by a gas leak and electrical arching under the boardwalk.  Since there was a heavy west wind that day, the fire spread quickly across the entire pier.  Unlike the Brigantine Castle, the Haunted Mansion was still in operation when the fire completely destroyed it.  Because of this, no contents of the mansion were ever pillaged by souvenir seekers like at Brigantine Castle.  

Pat Cicalese provided us with two New York television news reports from the day of the Long Branch Pier fire.  Click on one of the versions below to view them in Windows Media Player format.

[channel 4 TV news report]

[channel 7 TV news report}]

Channel 4 TV news report from Long Branch fire. Channel 7 TV news report from Long Branch fire.

Below are pictures of the Long Branch Pier fire and the fire aftermath.  Click on one of the thumbnails to see a larger image.
Mansion on Fire Pier Front on Fire Sand Tropez on Fire
Coast Guard Fighting Fire Pier Front after Fire Pier after Fire
Mansion Location after Fire Pier after Fire Pool Area after Fire

 

Pat Cicalese originally planned on rebuilding the Long Branch Pier and Haunted Mansion after the fire.  Unfortunately, he was heavily underinsured and only received a settlement of under 2 million dollars.  This did not even cover the four million dollar mortgage which Pat still owed on the pier.  When no banks would fund the rebuilding of the pier, plans for redevelopment were shelved.  

[new pier drawing]

An artist rendering of new pier facilities for Long Branch.  Notice that the mansion was included in the plans.  Unfortunately, these plans would never come to be. 

In the late 90s, the city of Long Branch took over ownership of the pier property and sold it to condo developers.  Today, nothing remains of this once bustling pier.  If you want to learn more information about the Long Branch Pier and the Haunted Mansion, you should visit the Long Branch Public library. 

If you visit the former site of the Long Branch Pier today, you will see a variety of new development.  These new condos are built on the former location of the Chelsea pool and waterslide. 
A new beach club is being built where the Long Branch Amusement Pier once stood.
The rear of the new beach club project.

[artist rendering of the new proposed pier complex]

Plans are underway for a new 55 million dollar Long Branch Pier project.  Read the full story from the March 17th, 2005  edition of the Atlanticville newspaper.

 

The information for this article came from several newspaper articles and an interview with Pat Cicalese, former owner of the mansion.  We would like to thank Pat for taking the time to provide us with his memories of the mansion.

 

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2003 Dark in the Park.  This site was created by Bill and Seph Cherkasky.