Dinosaur in Front of Bayville Building in Danger of Extinction
Another Ocean County icon along Route 9 in Berkeley Township is in danger of extinction. The dinosaur building in the township’s Bayville section is up for sale making an orphan out of the historic giant dinosaur outside its doors.
Building owner Russell Gilbert, former owner of the shuttered House of Paints chain, says the dinosaur has been at that location since the late 1930’s to early 1940’s. “Because originally it was a Taxidermist that had it, who bought the building there and that seems to be when it showed up.” However, he says its exact origin is unknown. He says there’s a rumor that the dinosaur was part of the World Fair in New York but that’s unsubstantiated. Other articles about the dinosaur also refutes the World Fair claim because of the materials its constructed of compared to materials used to create the World Fair dinosaurs.
However, the dinosaur does have a name. Gilbert says he never knew the name of the dinosaur so he gave her one. He says when they first bought the building they put a plaque on the dinosaur dedicating her name to Virginia after his Grandmother.
The historic dinosaur also looked much different when it popped up on Ocean county’s landscape. He says it’s actually on its third head replacement. There’s a picture of it at a different location on the National Park Service’s website of New Jersey roadside attractions. It’s also listed in Weird NJ.
He says when he purchased the building eight years ago, as part of the grand opening for the paint store “we had the local school pick the colors for her and at our grand opening everyone got to come in and put their own hand prints on her. So you stuck your hands in the paint and then you stuck your hands on the dinosaur because everyone’s always driven by the dinosaur but you never really get a chance to get out and touch it… so that day we had a whole slew of people get their hand prints on it.”
Gilbert says the now shuttered House of Paints Stores, located in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, were in existence since 1957, began by his grandparents before economic pressure and competition from larger stores forced him to close its stores. He says the dinosaur building is the last remaining building of the nine stores be sold.
He says he’s open to the idea of possibly putting the dinosaur up for adoption if the home is right. He says he goes to the building every other weekend to feed the dinosaur and say hello.