Monday, May 26, 2014

J.T.'s Fun Zone

I remember going to J.T.'s as a kid, for birthday parties and such. It was always packed. The skating rink, the arcade, the pools; all filled to the brim with energetic young people.

It opened in 1995, a few years after I was born, so naturally I  found my way there quite often.

In addition to what was mentioned above, they had basketball and racquetball courts, a number of bars, a club, a skatepark, pretty much everything young adults do to fill their time.

As anybody can imagine, with all the danger associated with these activities, there were a number of health and safety standards violations. The indoor amusement park was in constant legal battles circulating around the fatalities and injuries incurred by those who partook in the buildings activities.

The building was shut down in 2003, due mostly to controversy regarding the nightclub housed in the venue. A young, under aged girl was sexually assaulted by a DJ and the club's assistant manager.

In addition to those charges, there were also a number of drug violations and underage alcohol consumption complaints. The venue's owner was issued a number of citations for these actions.

The building was reopened for a short time, but was closed once again at the passing of Jerry Turco, the buildings owner.

It wasn't until I had already been checking out these historical locations for a couple years that I remembered that the medium sized warehouse off of Pleasant Valley Way even existed. I recruited a friend and headed over to the building.

We peeled back a loose board and hopped inside the moldy, moist building. We walked around, took our photo's, and left.

Shortly after I posted the photo's online, I was asked about the place by a number of other photographers. People started flocking to the blighted recreation facility, and unfortunately the vandals came too.

In April of 2011, the building was set on fire by arsonists. The three alarm fire was the last straw for the town, who began to take matters into their own hands.

Demolition of the venue was paid for by the Estate of Jerry Turco, who passed away in the 2000's. It took a while for the building to be taken down, for reasons not clear to me. But by the end of 2012, it was nothing more than a dirt lot.

The plot is apparently supposed to be used to house a new power management facility for the town of West Orange. Not a whole lot has been accomplished on that front, however. While not a terrible loss in terms of lasting history and architecture, it was sad to see JT's go. Just another one of the locals childhood memories gone by the wayside in terms of "progress".


  1. I was one of the original owners. We built it in 1976 and sold September 1986. It was nice. Jazz every Wednesday, Sunday afternoon, and Sunday nights with great International Jazz artists. 20 outdoor tennis courts, huge outdoor pool, two bars, a large room for dancing to a dj on Friday nights, boxing matches, weight training center, Olympic size indoor swimming pool, Nautilus center with a running track, 20 racquetball courts, two indoor tennis courts, basketball court, aerobics classes, masseur and masseuse, room for facials. Great Halloween, St. Patrick's parties, and a lot of agita from neighborhood home owners.

    1. Wow Eddie, thanks for the extra info. Sounds like it had a pretty good 10 year run, until they started mixing the kids with the adults. Maybe they should have split up the facility, for adults & kids. Sounds like you had a great place, though, why did you sell?

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  6. I am a photographer doing a photo-history project on the abandoned places in our area and the stories they tell. I was really upset to find that vandals and arsonists ruined my chance to pay this place a visit. It's sad that people can't just respect the site by taking photos and leaving. Great photos and history write up, well done!

  7. Great story. Thanks for the pics. What a fun place that must have been. I hate that a few people have to ruin things for everyone else. Thanks for sharing.