Archive for the ‘From the archives of the Historical Society’ Category

By Kathy Arlt, Contributing Writer @Blogfinger

The moment I saw this photograph in the archives I was intrigued. It was in a folder marked “Lawrence House,” and the address given was 28 Main Avenue.

Maybe that street address doesn’t pinpoint a location you can visualize while you’re reading this, but if I said that this was where The Sampler Inn once stood, you’d know exactly where 28 Main Avenue is, and exactly what a “today” photograph would show. And that was exactly where I thought this story was going.

But there was just one problem. When I got home and compared this photograph to another early photo of The Sampler Inn (when it was a hotel called The Aldine), it was obvious they were different buildings. So where was the Lawrence House? This advertisement in the June 22, 1878 edition of Ocean Grove Record doesn’t give a precise address:

Nor does this July 25, 1903, Ocean Grove Times report of a fire at the Lawrence House:

Or even this July 20, 1903, New York Times report on the same fire:

As far as I can determine, the Lawrence House never reopened after this fire. Instead it appears that the owners took over The Aldine in 1904, renamed it The Lawrence, and turned it over to the Lawrence House proprietress at the time of the fire, Miss Maggie White. So, given the similarity of the hotels’ names and the fact that The Lawrence was a Sampler Inn precursor, the mystery of how the Lawrence House photograph was previously misidentified is solved.

As for solving the mystery of where, exactly, the Lawrence House was so that I can show you what’s there now…well, that turned out to be much easier. The Historical Society has compiled a “hotel book,” which provides the name and address of every property that was ever a hotel or boarding house. The Lawrence House was located at 43 Main Avenue. And here’s what’s there today:

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By Kathy Arlt, Contributing Writer @Blogfinger

A couple of months ago, after Charles Layton’s report that 35 Embury Avenue would more than likely be torn down, at least one commenter wondered why anyone should care about the loss of such an ugly, architecturally undistinguished building. No gingerbread graces its façade. Its original clapboard exterior was covered in siding at some point in its history. The windows are far from original. But who knows how grand it might have looked when it was built…in 1889?

In the course of archiving the Historical Society’s collection of photographs and documents, I’ve come across many examples of properties that appear vastly different today than when they were built. Sometimes the original structure burned down, and the property owners (or 99-year leaseholders, to be completely accurate) built “modern” homes, complete with driveways and garages. But often the owners just did some extreme remodeling—or “remuddling,” as the Old House Journal dubs itlong before Ocean Grove became a National Historic District and a Board of Architectural Review or Historic Preservation was created.

One example of this is 63 Cookman Avenue, which was originally a hotel called the Lane Villa. The first advertisement I could find for it appeared in the 1905 edition of the Ocean Grove Times.

Here’s an early photo of the Lane Villa:

A somewhat later photo is below. (How much later, unfortunately, is unknown, but based on the height of the trees, my guess would be twenty to thirty years.) As you can see, the hotel’s pennant is missing, the exterior painting appears less ornate, and some of the shutters have been removed.

And here is 63 Cookman today. It’s lost all its gingerbread, the peaked roof over the square turret, its upper porch, all the porch railings—even its collection of grass-strip trees. And oh yes: its covered in siding.

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By Kathy Arlt, Contributing Writer  @Blogfinger

Call me a curmudgeon, but I like to finish celebrating one holiday before I start thinking about celebrating the next one. So I don’t hit the stores at the crack of dawn on Black Friday; I sleep late and eat leftovers all day. Hearing Christmas carols before Thanksgiving makes me wince. And, it seems to me, every year the start of the holiday shopping season moves up a day or two. (I swear Lowes started selling Christmas lights before Halloween this year…and don’t get me started on those Lexus commercials.)

Surely it wasn’t always like this.

Well, it was and it wasn’t. Here’s an advertisement from the November 17, 1916, issue of the Ocean Grove Times.

Bear in mind that Thanksgiving fell on November 30th in 1916, so Steinbach’s was jumping the holiday gun (so to speak) by a week and a half.

PS: I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I must have the date wrong, because the 30th is the last day in November, and we never celebrate Thanksgiving that late in the month. But we used to. In 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed the final Thursday of November would be the nation’s Thanksgiving Day, and 1916’s November just happened to contain five Thursdays. It wasn’t until 1941 that Congress and Franklin Roosevelt fixed Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of the month…to stimulate the holiday shopping season.

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By Kathy Arlt. Contributing Writer @ Blogfinger

The New York Times has published “all the news that’s fit to print”—international, national and local—since 1851. The Ocean Grove Times began publication in 1893, merged with the Ocean Grove Record for a year in 1895, became the Ocean Grove and The Shore Times in 1935, and ended its run as the Ocean Grove and Neptune Times. It’s focus was decidedly local, though not strictly on Ocean Grove. Here are two front-page stories from 1899:




In the 1800s, and for most of the 1900s, too—before computer composition made it possible to easily adjust type sizes and spacing to fill a column of print—newspapers often used “fillers” to avoid gaps on their pages. Small ads were common, and so, apparently, were jokes that had been published in other newspapers. Here are two fillers from 1899:



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By Kathy Arlt, Contributing Writer @Blogfinger

This was the headline in the March 11, 1938 issue of The Ocean Grove Times:

The hotel was closed at the time, and all the utilities had been cut off, so a cause for the fire could not be determined. Unlike the 1925 fire, this fire struck at the very heart of the North End Hotel complex, and much of the original 1912 building was destroyed. After the fire, many rumors circulated claiming that the hotel wouldn’t be rebuilt. But, as we all know, it was rebuilt…and guests continued to check in until 1976. Then the hotel was closed for good, and plans were made for a new complex at the North End: a “life care” facility for senior citizens called “Aldersgate.”

And so, in 1978, the North End Hotel was demolished.

And what happened to Aldersgate? Well, the planned 272 studio and one-bedroom unit complex was never built. There just wasn’t enough interest from the senior citizen community to support construction.

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By Kathy Arlt, Contributing Writer @Blogfinger

So…you’ve seen all the movies on offer at the Scenario. What else could you do at the North End Hotel in 1911?

You could have your silhouette drawn by this gentleman, and then get an ice cream cone at the stand behind him.

After that, how about a little “healthy exercise”…like Box Ball Bowling?

As you can probably guess, bowling in 1911 was very different than it is today—no automatic pin-spotting, for one thing—and Box Ball Bowling was very different than regular bowling. Instead of ten pins arranged in a pyramid shape, there were only five pins in a straight line, and the balls were much smaller and had no finger holes. As this ad indicates, the alleys were portable—and profitable!

Movies and bowling were the only North End Hotel activities advertised in the 1911 editions of the Ocean Grove Times, so I’m not sure when the other amusements opened, either inside or around it. But as these 1950s photos show, Ocean Grovers had lots to choose from as time went by.

And that was just one side of the Hotel. On the boardwalk side, visitors were directed inside to experience the “Holy Land Quadorama…A Gigantic Spectacle…Marvel of Exactness and Beauty.”

We have no pictures of the Quadorama at the Museum, and I’d really love to know what it was like. Maybe someone reading this can fill me in?

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By Kathy Arlt, Contributing Writer    @Blogfinger


Here we are, back at the North End Hotel in 1911:



See that arched entrance in the middle of the photo? That was the “Scenario.”



“Wholesome” was, indeed, the by-word for the films shown at the Scenario. (And as for the “orchestra of competent musicians,” don’t forget: it’s 1911, so we’re talking—no pun intended—about silent films.) Mrs. Lauretta Hughson, shown below, reported that the Camp Meeting Association reviewed—and approved—all the films the Scenario presented. Her family took over the Scenario in 1916 and renamed it the Strand.



Whether it was the Scenario or the Strand, it’s obvious that it was a popular attraction. The Scenario was open 13 hours a day! And look at that sign on the Strand’s ticket booth: any place that advertises the time the doors open is a place that anticipates lines—even for “The World’s Greatest Athlete,” a film that received only 5.4 stars (out of a possible 10) from the Internet Movie Data Base.


But, if the theatre was full when you arrived, there were plenty of other things to do at the North End Hotel…as you’ll see in Part 2.



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By Kathy Arlt, Contributing Writer  @Blogfinger

It’s impossible for me, in 2011, to improve on the Ocean Grove Times account of the North End Hotel’s opening in 1911, so most of this post will be a reprint from that newspaper. But first, a photo of the north side of the completed hotel, with Wesley Lake in the foreground:

And here is the front-page headline that announced the opening:

Sadly (for all the foodies reading this), the Times didn’t record any specifics about the elaborate menu the 150 invited guests enjoyed, but it was reported that there were nine courses which “embraced about all that was needed to please the palates of the banquetters.” Vocal and instrumental “quartettes” entertained the diners, who were not subjected to “speechmaking.” I imagine the guests also examined the hotel’s rooms and facilities, which were described in detail.

At 10 p.m. the festivities were over, and the grand opening guests departed “with a feeling that they had spent a most pleasant evening enjoying to the full the hospitality of the North End Hotel Company, and wishing for that body unlimited prosperity in their new enterprise.”

The Times account ends by listing the first two guests to register at the hotel: Mrs. Matilda Applegate and Miss Dorothy Applegate. They didn’t travel far to experience the luxurious surroundings of the North End Hotel; they came from Asbury Park.

Next time: It Wasn’t Just a Hotel

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By Kathy Arlt, contributing writer  @Blogfinger

In 2011 it’s not uncommon to see Ocean Grove visitors (and residents) walking to the beach in their bathing suits, but this was completely unacceptable behavior in the 1800s—even though an 1800’s bathing suit covered one’s body from head to toe. So Victorian beach-goers must have been thrilled to read this announcement in the May 12, 1877 issue of the Ocean Grove Record:

The builder and operator of these bathing houses was Theodore W. Lillagore of Philadelphia, through a lease agreement with the Camp Meeting Association. (Another entrepreneur, Joseph Ross, was awarded the same concession for the North End beach. More about this in my next post.) This 1878 Woolman and Rose engraving shows the finished product:

It’s difficult to say how long the bathing grounds looked like this. Year after year, winter storms took their toll on every structure built near the beach. But that fact only seemed to stoke a desire to rebuild even bigger and better. In fact, in 1904, when the second “Auditorium” (the Great Auditorium we know today is actually the third Auditorium) was torn down, many of its elements were incorporated into a grand “Lillagore’s Pavilion” at the South End beach. Sadly, however, in 1915, the pavilion fell victim to the Grove’s other nemesis: fire.

Despite this tragedy, when visitors arrived in 1916, they were greeted by this new South End Pavilion.

This grand structure, too, fell victim to the ravages of Mother Nature. I’m thinking it was destroyed in the Great Hurricane of 1944…but if anyone out there has better information, please share it with a comment.

(Note: Kathy Arlt is no longer associated with Blogfinger.)



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By Kathy Arlt, Blogfinger contributing writer

The Ocean Grove Record didn’t have a regular medical column, but articles about physical health appeared occasionally. One, titled “Shut Your Mouth,” warned about the dangers of not breathing through your nose:

This was probably good advice in 1877, when homes were often lit with gas lights (although it’s worth noting that natural gas was odorless until the 1930s), heat was provided by burning coal or wood, transportation was by horse, and modern sewage systems were a recent development.

But if you couldn’t get much health information from the Record, you could buy medicine.

And if you really needed a doctor while you were summering in Ocean Grove, the advertising section of the Record could help you find one.

I wonder what kinds of treatment un-“Special Cases” were offered.

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