Here is a small weekend project that can add a little history and fun to your layout. Madam Marie's Temple Of Knowledge is a small fortune teller and psychic reader on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, NJ. Her little 12' square building on the boardwalk became an icon in New Jersey & the rest of the world later in years.
The nice thing about a small build project like this is that it doesn't have to be used in the setting the prototype is in. The makes a great scene in a small empty town or city lot on Main Street or in the part of town that is "Across The Tracks". Also for anyone with a Route 66 scene, this fits in great. And of course any Amusement Park, Carnival or Boardwalk scene it fits right in.
Here is a quick little history about this building:
(Photo below is the actual building on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, NJ Summer 2007)
Madam Marie began telling fortunes at her small, twelve feet square booth called the Temple of Knowledge in 1932. She, and her small stand, would remain a popular Asbury Park fixture on the city's boardwalk for much of the next seven decades.
During the 1960s, Madam Marie became popularly known as "the gypsy queen of the boardwalk". She did not know why people began calling her gypsy, but reportedly did not mind the nickname as she felt that mystery was good for a fortunetelling business. The nickname became especially popular with locals, especially teens who worked in the area, such as a young Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen began visiting Madam Marie around the age of 17, and often played his guitar outside of her booth. According to stories told by Springsteen, She predicted that he would be famous. She would later be immortalized in his 1973 song, "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)".
Madam Marie gained a following among celebrities who often stopped at Asbury Park to perform at the nearby Asbury Park Convention Hall during her long career on the boardwalk, especially during the 1960s. Famous clients whom Castello had read for included Ray Charles, Woody Allen, Perry Como, Diane Keaton, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Elliott Gould, Gorilla Monsoon, Vic Damone and Diahann Carroll.
She continued to work on the boardwalk despite the decline of Asbury Park during the 1970s. She became one of the few businesses who remained on the boardwalk during the 1970s and 1980s as tourism in Asbury Park declined. She closed down her regular daily business on the boardwalk in 1997, which coincided with a decline in business in Asbury Park. She continued to read fortunes in nearby Ocean Township, NJ
She would re-open her Temple of Knowledge in Asbury Park on July 4, 2004, after a seven year hiatus from the boardwalk, her longest absence since the 1930s. Her return coincided with renewed investment and a boom in new businesses in Asbury Park. She resumed giving fortune readings to customers on weekends only, charging between $5 and $35 for her predictions. Madam Marie continued to work as a fortuneteller at her booth in Asbury Park until her death in 2008
And now the O Scale building version:
The building is made from Crescent 218 Illustration Board & first painted with a thinned textured paint to simulate the plaster coat over cider block look. Then it was repainted in the colors that are on the building today.
The front view we included the awning that was installed in recent years, window & door blinds (95% of the time, they were always drawn) and 2 custom made "EL" flat panel signs for fortune telling.
All the graphics on the building were hand painted to simulate the prototype closely. 3mm LEDs were used to light up the outside of the building because in recent years Metal Halide (MH) lighting was installed on the actual building for security.
The next 2 photos are night views.
We even added a little O scale Madam Marie to accent the building.
Hope you like this little peice of New Jersey Americana. It is a fun little project will work as any roadside attraction on your layout.