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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Gretna's Rt. 9 Mansion

Not a month goes by that I don't get 3 or 4 emails asking me for information on the Rt. 9 walled mansion that is constantly evolving with a collection of interesting statues and sayings painted on the wall. 

Unfortunately, I didn't know much more than the inquisitive emailers. That is until my men's breakfast buddy, Carl Joorman, a former New Gretna resident presently living at the Four Seasons at Harbor Bay in Little Egg Harbor, gave me a copy of the Harbor Bay Breeze, a monthly newsletter published by the adult community.

The July, 2012 edition of the Breeze contained an article and photos of the New Gretna mansion. It seems that John Ways and Arnold Scharfstein, who collaborate on a monthly story and photo column, were getting repeated questions from Harbor Bay residents concerning the mansion. The dynamic duo decided that a story on the mansion was in order.

I met John and Arnold the other day for lunch to get the skinny on how they got their story and photos. They graciously shared their adventure at the mansion with me. 

One day they decided to stop at the mansion and take photos of the statuary. As Arnold was poking the telephoto lens of his Nikon through the iron gate, Adalid Gomez, the caretaker of the property, walked up to them and asked what they were doing. After hearing their explanation, he invited them onto the property and introduced them to the property's owner, Byung Taek Kim.

Mr. Kim proved a friendly, hospitable host and took John and Arnold on a tour of the property. The following story and photos evolved from that tour.

The Wonderful Homestead on Route 9
Written by John Ways. Photos by Arnold Scharfstein.

Many of you have driven up or down Route 9 on your way to or from the Garden State Parkway and you saw an amazing sight. Near mile marker 58.5, you probably saw dinosaurs on a long wall with canons on each pillar and super hero transformer action figures in front of its gates. Mr. Byung Taek Kim, owner of this 60 acre homestead, was very kind to invite Arnold and myself into his facility for a walking tour along with Adalid Gomez, his property caretaker.

The author, John Ways, standing by the steam engine
at one of the gates to the property

We learned that this property was once a farm owned by Benjamin Franklin Headley in the mid to late 1800's and later owned by the Bush family. Then in 1970 it was purchased by Eddie Sims of Brigantine who decided to restore the farmhouse and enjoy the property for his own use. It seems that Eddie owned some worthless bay property in Brigantine which Harrah's Casino decided to buy. With his new found wealth, Eddie purchased the farm and started renovations in 1970.

The property was abandoned some 15 years ago so Mr. Kim, of Fort Lee, NJ, purchased it in September of 2010 to provide a fun summer home for his family. Mr. Kim, Chairman of the Taekwondo Association of Greater New York said that "He purchased the property for the sole enjoyment of himself and his family and not for any commercial venture." For the past year, Mr. Kim has been renovating and remodeling the buildings, redoing the landscaping, and adding many new features that add to the fun nature of the property. He said it would probably take another year or so to complete all of the renovations and additions that he has in mind; he will keep his gates closed until completion.

Byung Taek Kim

Our tour started in the rear of the house on the north side where we saw a large raised, covered wooden dog run approximately 100 feet for a collie and a German shepherd. It included a large dog bed with brass header and footer and other amenities for the dogs. On our right was an amazing 75 foot replica of the famed Korean Turtle Ship built by Admiral Yi Sun-sin during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 and used successfully to defeat the Japanese Navy. It features a dragon head, iron plating, guns on all sides, and spikes on the curved upper deck to prevent the Japanese from boarding it.

Turtle Ship

A little farther toward the rear we entered a large enclosed area that included numerous chickens. Although the chickens were roaming outdoors, there were two new large hen houses with glass doors and a pond within this enclosure. We think the chickens were of the Araucanas or Ameraucanas breeds because they were laying blue eggs. Our last stop at the rear of the property was a lake with clear blue water, a dock with a ladder and a large covered but open cabana with seating facing the lake. Although this lake was stocked with bass, there were others stocked with goldfish and koi.

On the north side of the property was the barn which housed Batman, a black stallion who had a large fenced in pasture in which to run and play. Mr. Kim enjoys riding and he rides Batman around the property on his riding path.


Near the main house, which has completed renovations, is a large swimming pool with a wooden bridge spanning across the middle of it. On one side of the pool is a three story castle-like building with place for pool furniture storage and other items. Along the side of this structure is a waterfall that straddles the left side of the structure. On the top are two bright metallic knights and in between is an elephant head.

The three story main house on the south side of the property was built in three phases and has been renovated to Mr. Kim's specifications. Around the back there are various sculptures sitting atop the pillars of the rear fence. On one side is a vegetable garden; on the other a fully lighted tennis court. In front of the house is a bright red dragon accompanied by two stone angels. On one side is a 20 foot giraffe along with four smaller ones.

In front of the house and in its garage are 400 year old sculptures including pagodas, Buddhas in stone and brass, and Christian sculptures of Christ and angels, 15 foot black stallions, and colored dragons that are awaiting placement. These sculptures come from Korea, Texas and local South Jersey artists.

Arnold and I thoroughly enjoyed our tour and are so grateful for Mr. Kim's hospitality.

Reprinted with permission from the Harbor Bay Breeze.

I hear various opinions from local residents regarding Mr. Kim's whimsical endeavor. As for me, I think he is a welcomed addition to our community. I always smile when I pass the mansion, and I look forward to what the future might bring.

Well, that's the scoop on the mansion. Perhaps, now, I won't be getting any more email inquiries.

Pete S

PS- Click on the photo of the mansion below to read a previous Blog post that provides some background information on the mansion property.

Following are a few photos that I took today.


  1. Thank you, we often wondered what is behind the walls. And now we know, how delightfull! I agree a smile every time I go by and great addition to New Gretna :)

  2. im amazed and love passing the property with my dad and family we look asking i wonder what is next . its great congrads on making the whole town smile and with amazement..Rose

  3. What an amazing tour you had! I've passed this estate many times and always wondered about it. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  4. Thanks, I too wondered what was going on, I remember the mansion when Ed Simms owned it, & how beautiful it was. It is not your typical New Gretna home now, but good wishes to the owner...Clare Doherty

  5. (Just Beautiful) Thank you on the story: Always love to see another person who is a kid at heart and does not care what other's think or say. If you like it or enjoy it,and your not hurting anyone Do It !!.
    I am always waiting to see what other wonderful items Mr Kim will be adding, some day I would love to meet him, for I as well am a big kid at heart and always will. keep it up Mr Kim yall right with me !! New Gretna HoundDog....

  6. Eddie and Shirley Sims built the mansion, the waterall that they say is a castle. guessing they just turned the water off. The new place is an eyesore to me. I remember when Shirley and Ed had it and it was a classy place

    1. Pappy,

      Were you personal friends with the couple?

  7. I guess the property was quickly abandoned when Shirley Sims left town so quickly......

  8. Wonder where the infamous "Sims" boy is now?????

  9. what happened to Shirley and Eddie Sims? Didn't something happen to them in the house? Burgarly? etc.

  10. Can anyone who visits this blog share with me any information on Eddie and Shirley Sims? I have a photo of the gentleman in the Rum Point Pub. Any info would be greatley appreciated. Curious as to why Sims is so "infamous.

    1. They left tiwn quick for a reason. The father passed from a brain anurisum. There was a horrible accident that killed a girl. Supposedly the one sims son ricki was driving and paid someone off tov take the blame. Heard they moved down by Florida

    2. Yes, the son Ricky was an ass. Always crashing things and getting away with it. Mommy would just buy him a new toy. Then he killed a girl while driving drunk - a beautiful human being, Amy Paul who was only 18. He got out of that one too by paying a bunch of people off. Big wonderful cover up by the Sims family. I guess they were all not feeling so welcome or wanted in town after that and quietly disappeared, leaving the home vacant for quite some time. In my opinion, I will gladly pass that eye sore that is currently on Rt 9 now, then have that scumbag still living there and walking around our local towns.

  11. Does anyone have a photo of the farm house prior to construction. If I remember there was a fire and most of the structure was destroyed.

    1. Check out the following Blog entry:

      Pete S

  12. This place was not vacant for 15 years prior to Mr. Kjm buying it. There were a couple of other people who purchased it. Investors I was told. There was even wild parties being thrown there by one of the more recent owners. I also have heard different accounts of how the family rolled into all their money. No matter, Mr. Kim is a nice guy and a good neighbor.

  13. I just heard the story behind the story......very interesting!