By Cynthia Andes
Photography courtesy of Ed Heitman
Long before the town of Loveladies on Long Beach Island became known for its interesting architectural homes, Ed Heitman introduced, The Round House to Barnegat Light.
The Round House was a completely modern home designed by architect Arthur Tofina and built in 1961. Heitman and Tofina be-came close friends while in college together in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When Heitman decided to build his own beach house in Barnegat Light, he commissioned Tofina to build a one-story house on the corner of 12th Street and Long Beach Boulevard. His only specifications were that the home should have two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, and bath. And with that, Heitman allowed his young friend free reign to design his summer home.
Initially, Heitman was shocked when he looked at the house plans; Tofina had designed a house with curved walls for the main living area, and completely round bedrooms. Jalousie windows were incorporated into the structure, along with sliding glass panels. A year later in 1962, when Heitman moved into The Round House, he opened its doors to other interested Long Beach islanders when it was included on the first house tour, sponsored by the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, where Heitman taught art to young children during the summer.
Passers-by found the construction of the house fascinating. One day while Heitman was putting capping on the roof his ladder fell – leaving him stranded. Luckily, he was rescued by a young couple who happened by.
Heitman himself spent much of his time on a ladder covering the whole house with cedar shake shingles. At one point, a neighbor observing his work asked, “Have you done this before?” Heitman responded that he had not – to which the neighbor replied, “It looks it!” The novel design of the split shake shingles was something the neighbor had never seen be-fore but would be copied by many others in the coming years.
Heitman’s creativity could also be seen in many facets inside the house. He chose to have an open floor plan for most of the living and dining areas. For the bedrooms, draperies instead of doors provided privacy. The bathroom did have a door; and included a tiled shower and a stained-glass window that Heitman designed and created. For the window, he chose an abstract pattern with many bright bold colors.
The main living area always brought a bit of anticipation to visitors, as Heitman changed the décor yearly. One year it had an ocean theme, another focused on antiques, and still another year it was given a Chinese influence, reflecting his artistic interests. For the outside, Heitman designed a patio using slate from a side walk that had previously been on the property.
Although about a decade later Heitman moved from The Round House to a Victorian home just up the street, his legacy as one who provided much beauty and interest to Barnegat Light continued.