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Thornley Chapel. Ocean Grove, NJ Paul Goldfinger photograph, undated ©

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net

When I first took an interest in the history of Ocean Grove, I went to the Camp Meeting Association to interview their historian. Much to my surprise, this historic institution had no such official who could be a spokesman regarding their history.

Instead I was informed that the Historical Society of Ocean Grove served in that capacity.  To be honest, I found that to be strange and essentially untrue.

As a result, no one has assiduously  taken on that  responsibility.  And as a result, there are failures in the re-telling, such as we saw recently in trying to find the correct name for “the fountain” in Founders Park.

Others have tried to step into the void such as authors Ted Bell, Ted David, and Paul Goldfinger who have written about it.

In 1939, at the time of the Grove’s 70th anniversary, a book was published called “History of Ocean Grove” compiled by the Ocean Grove Times “in cooperation with the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.”  The writing was credited to Mr. and Mrs. Richard F. Gibbons.

At various times in the  past, as recently as 1980, the subject of secession from Neptune Township  by the town of Ocean Grove has come up.

And the records show that such an event actually happened for one year in 1920. Here  (below) is the verbatim chapter from the 1939 Gibbons’ book called  “The Borough of Ocean Grove.”  It is likely that the authors were present in 1920 when this history was being made.

Part I:

Probably the greatest victory won by the proponents of a change in Ocean Grove came in 1920 when the Legislature approved the Borough Bill.

The Camp Meeting Association had gone along with the backers of the bill freely demonstrating  the spirit of good will existing between the board and many of the town’s leading citizens.

The newly-organized Civic Betterment League established amicable relations with the Camp Meeting Association, and a joint conference was held at the Chalfonte Hotel, Atlantic City.

A joint committee was named to draft a bill for the Borough of Ocean Grove, the group consisting of Governor Stokes, Judge Harold B. Wells, and Counsellor W. Holt Apgar, for the Association, and Robert M. Watt, Stephen D. Wooley, and Counsellor Richard W. Stout for the Civic League.  Mr. Stout, then Assemblyman from Monmouth County, agreed to sponsor the bill in the Legislature.

After several meetings of the Joint Committee, the bill was prepared, approved by both the Camp Meeting Association and the Civic Betterment League, and introduced by Assemblyman Stout.

The Ocean Grove Borough Bill passed the Assembly 38-2, and the State Senate, 15-0, and was duly signed by Governor Edward I. Edwards.

Immediately after the passage of the bill, an organization was formed, headed by Dr. Charles J Massinger, William S. Hopper, Andrew T. VanCleve, and William E. Bunn, which opposed the formation of a borough. Mass meetings were held by both sides, pamphlets and other literature were circulated among the citizens, and great enthusiasm and bitterness prevailed.

At the referendum, provided for in the bill, its adoption was overwhelmingly voted for. After the referendum a primary was held in the Association Hall with some five hundred present (Incidentally Woman’s Suffrage had not been ratified and only men voted,) at which candidates for the various borough offices were nominated.

Subsequently, at a special election, Robert M. Watt was elected Mayor, and T. Nelson Lillagore, George C. Pridham, Rev. Thomas J.J. Wright, Dr. William  A. Robinson and William E. Carpenter were elected members of the Council; Harry G. Shreve, Assessor; and Joseph Rainear, Collector. These men were re-elected at the regular election, with the exception of William E. Carpenter, who declined to be a candidate , and Lot R. Ward, Sr, was elected in his stead.

NOTE  On August 11, 1920, in a brief article in the New York Times  (dateline August 10, 1920) the headline read: “Ocean Grove Elects First Mayor.”  The dateline says Ocean Grove, NJ:  “Robert M Watt is the first Mayor of Ocean Grove Borough. He was elected today with six Councilmen.”

The organization meeting of the Mayor and Council was held in the social parlors of the Eagle Hook and Ladder Company.  Frederick A. Smith, President of the company and on behalf of the company, presented the Mayor with an engraved gavel and pedestal. At the meeting Stephen d. Wooley was elected President of the Council, John E. Quinn was appointed Clerk and Richard W. Stout, Counsel, and the various committees were appointed. An emergency note for $20,000 was authorized and later discounted at the Ocean Grove National Bank.

On January 14, 1921, the Mayor and Council adopted an annual budget totaling $60,390.00.

Over the next year, a great battle developed over the new Borough, and the “rise and fall of the Borough” ensued. Gibbons called it “The Famous Borough Fight.”

We will tell the rest of the story  over the next few days and try to find out what went wrong.

 

FRANK SINATRA    “My Kind of Town.”

 

 

 

 

 

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By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor@Blogfinger.net

The 16 foot 1907 4 tiered fountain has been restored and is now erect in Founders Park. Yesterday, July 9, was the final installation.

Some more minor work needs to be done for it to be flowing on Saturday, July 27.  (see information below). The fountain last displayed water in the 1970’s.  Thanks to a fund raising effort by Ted Bell and the Historic Society of Ocean Grove, over $100,000 was raised, and some more donations would be helpful for the finishing touches including landscaping.

We went over there tonight and were able to photograph it in very low light using an extremely sensitive digital camera.

 

Paul Goldfinger photo. 4 tiered fountain is back in place. 7/10/19. Blogfnger.net ©  Click to enlarge photos.

 

Closeup of the lower part. Blogfinger.net. ©

 

Here is a link to a Jack Bredin painting of the historic scene:

Founders Park painting

 

COMING ATTRACTIONS:

July 27 Saturday  is Victorian Day

10 am – 4 pm:  Mrs. Joseph Thornley’s prayer tent in Founders Park

10 am – 3 pm: History of OG video shown continually in the Great Auditorium

11 am-11:30:  Dedication of the Fountain    (DO NOT MISS THIS)    and Re-enactment of Bishop Fitzgerald by Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell.  Founders Park

Note: from Cindy Bell: “The restored fountain is back in town, and Robinson Iron anticipates the final installation on Tuesday July 9th. Landscaping and final touches will be put in place the week of July 15th.  Dedication ceremony:  Saturday July 27th at 11:00 am. Community members are invited to stop by the park to watch the action.”

 

12-4 pm Horse and carriage tour

Afternoon tours of Great Auditorium, tours of Historical Society Museum,and walking tours of Ocean Grove

 

OMARA PORTUONDO   “Mariposita Primavera.”    From the Buena Vista Social Club

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

This was originally posted in June, 2015 on BF.  But each year we  pay attention to girls in their summer clothes. It is a tradition for our seashore community.

Ocean Grove beach, late 1800's. Courtesy of Ted Bell's book: Images of America---Ocean Grove. © 2000.

Ocean Grove beach, late 1800’s.     Courtesy of Ted Bell author of: Images of America—Ocean Grove. © 2000.

Source: hanging at the HSOG museum. Blogfinger photo

Source: hanging at the HSOG museum. Blogfinger photo

By contrast, here is a photograph taken in summer, 2018  on the OG boards.  What a difference 140 years can make in beach fashions:

Coup de foudre: (“Love at first sight.)    Paul Goldfinger photo. Summer, 2018. OG boards. ©

The June day in 2015   (below) started out rainy and chilly, but later in the day it became Sunny and Cher;  it warmed up a bit, but it was still windy.

I went on the boardwalk and saw lifeguards at their stations. A green flag was flying along with “Old Glory.” But no one was swimming. In fact no one was in the water.

OG lifeguards. 6/6/15 Blogfinger photo ©

OG lifeguards. 6/6/15 Blogfinger photo © All photographs  by Paul Goldfinger, Editor @ Blogfinger.   (except for the one by Ted Bell dated 1880.)   Click to enlarge all photos.

I walked up to one of the lifeguard stands and joked with the guards who stayed at their post, like soldiers guarding a “no-man’s land.” An older guard, “Cowboy Dave” was sitting in the rescue boat, 10 gallon hat on and blue sunglasses, but he was facing the water. He is either the first or the last in the lifeboat.  He said that he is from OG and that this is his 16th summer as a lifeguard. He reminds me of Robert Duvall smelling napalm in the morning. (Apocalypse Now)

Cowboy Dave. 6/06/15. Blogfinger photo ©

Cowboy Dave. 6/06/15. Blogfinger photo ©

I asked him if he saw any bathing beauties go by, because all that was out there was the surf. He pointed to some young ladies about 100 yards away who were the only ones on the beach, to the north. Clearly this was not a “no-woman’s land.”

They wore some pretty small bathing suits, so it seemed like a good public interest news photo- op for Blogfinger.

OG bathers. (Left to right) Hannah, Tui, Danielle, and Amelia. 6/6/15. Blogfinger photo ©

OG bathers. (Left to right) Hannah, Tui, Danielle, and Amelia. 6/6/15. Blogfinger photo ©  Click image to enlarge the bathing  suits.

When I walked to their location, it seemed like I should ask them why they are in Ocean Grove on such a bleak day. I was thinking that they looked like they should be in Asbury Park. I did not comment on their attire, but you can’t help but notice that this is much different than 1880.

As it turns out, they are coeds who are camping at Allaire State Park where they are renting a yurt. They were having a great time just being together and laughing and talking and telling yurt jokes. They said that they preferred Ocean Grove’s beach to any others. One of them had come to OG as a child.

They especially singled out Days Ice Cream and the summer tents as favorite spots. I only had one BF card which I gave them to photograph and share.

I said goodbye and walked back to the lifeguards offering to sell them the names of the young ladies. They seemed interested, but ultimately I suggested that they get the names themselves.

So who says that we live in Ocean Grave? It’s time to bury that nickname.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Saturday, June 6, 2015, Ocean Grove beach.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN     (live)

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Founders Park. Ocean Grove. This is an authentic Civil War canon , and it’s aimed at Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

You can get a smile out of Ted Bell when you point out the direction of our canon. The young lady, an intern from the Historical Society of OG,  helps warm up a cold day and a cold canon.

Founders Park, the best park in Ocean Grove, is next to the Wesley Retention/Detention Basin and is just west of the corpse of the Warrington Hotel, and then a little more east we come to the site of the North End Redevelopment Plan which will be located next to the Boardwalk and a short distance away from where the dirty storm water will flow into the Basin and then into the Ocean.   We wrote about the history of this Union canon; just do a search at the top of this page.

ART GARFUNKEL

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Joy Adase in 2014 when she joined the garden tour. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Four years ago, Joy and Mike Adase found the OG home of their dreams on Heck Avenue.  They sold their 5 bedroom house in Howell, downsized their stuff, and moved into a historic  (1885)  two-story, 2 bedroom,  1200 square foot Ocean Grove cottage at #97  What-the-Heck Avenue.

Here is a link to an article we posted about the Adases in 2014 when they were newcomers:

New Grover in town. What the heck.

Since they have been here full time, they have been  “in love” with the town of Ocean Grove and with  their unique home.

So this year, the Adases decided to join the house tour, sponsored by the Historical Society of OG, which was held on Friday, August 3, 2018.  During the tour, Mike and Joy got out of the way and visited one of their favorite spots:  New Hope, Pa.

Joy said that it was a lot of work to get her home just right for the tour, but she is happy to “share”  her  home with visitors;  the more, the merrier.  “I feel blessed to live in this beautiful town and in this home,” said Joy. Now that it’s over, she says, “I’m glad we did it.”

Docent Joanne greets visitors on the porch. Note the original metal awning. 8/3/18.  All photographs by Blogfinger.net

There were 8 homes on the tour, and many visitors, mostly women in groups of 2-4, were happily making the rounds.

The house was on display with five docents providing a lively tour.  Joanne, a neighbor, was greeting visitors on the porch. She pointed out the original metal awning overhead, which is rare in the Grove. The original doorbell is rung by twisting a knob.

Docent Mike explains the front parlor. Blogfinger photos © 8/3/18

Inside was another neighbor Mike who says he loves to chat, so being a docent is right up his alley, and this is the third year he is doing it.  He used the joke-of-the-day with every visitor, pointing out the “one butt staircase” heading to the master bedroom.

Visiting the living room. Blogfinger is seen in the mirror photographing.

On the second floor was Colleen, another neighbor.  She repeated the butt joke.  (awright awready with the butt jokes!)

Docent Colleen at the top of the staircase (room enough for one at a time)

Having neighbors conduct the tour offered an extra dimension of enthusiasm  as Colleen allowed visitors to poke their heads into the bathroom.

Of course, the whole house was lovely and spotless.  We met some visitors from out of town including: Pennsylvania, Ramsey and Midland Park.  Visitors to the Grove are well familiar with the exteriors of our homes, but to tour the interiors is quite a special experience especially for house voyeurs.

Docent Marty in the Serenity Garden. Blogfinger photo 8/3/18 ©

Outside was Marty who was enjoying showing the Serenity Garden.  This is another of those OG gardens that are quite special in small spaces.  She pointed out the grape vines growing on the side fence and the popcorn plant along the edge of the house.  Pick a piece and smell it to experience the Jersey Shore popcorn aroma.

The next day Joy relaxed on her porch, sipping from her Christmas cup,  happily reviewing the tour with Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net. 8/4/18

MARIA MULDAUR:

 

 

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At the July 9, 2018 Committee Meeting there was a first reading of an ordinance: 18-24.  The Township wants to establish a new position: HPC Administrative Officer.   This bit of news doesn’t pass the smell test regarding what’s best for Ocean Grove and its historic designations.

We already heard about the Township’s plans to rewrite the HPC guidelines and to hire a consultant for that purpose, but we have heard nothing lately as to that topic.  As worrisome as that sounds, the Chairwoman, Deb Osepchuk, has refused to make any public comment after promising Blogfinger that she would allow us an interview on the matter.

Rumor has it that the Township, beholden to developers who hate the HPC, wants to weaken the powers of the Commission. But no one in the know will say anything to us.

Now we hear about this new position, and it sounds like the Township wants more control over the process of Historic Preservation, but instead of showing courage at the meeting last night, the HPC Chair refused to say anything, evidently at the advice of her lawyer.  So what good is the HPC if it won’t stand up for preservation in the Grove?

We believe that every member of the HPC  ought to resign immediately until the future of their Commission be defined publicly including their powers, their guidelines, their credentials,  and the integrity of their functions.

The Township must insure that the best interests of Ocean Grove be front and center when considering the HPC.

And, by the way, where is the Ocean Grove Historical Society regarding matters such as this?  They should be involved in all these historic preservation issues, and if they won’t, then their Board should be fired by the membership.   And of course, the Home Groaners should have been on their feet demanding some transparency regarding this situation.  It’s about time that their board also be replaced.

 

THE ROOFTOP SINGERS:

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Founders Park fountain. Paul Goldfinger photo © 12/3/17

We have heard from Cindy Bell:

”  Hi Blogfinger. Just an update: The Historical Society has raised over $50,000 for the renovation of the FitzGerald Memorial Fountain in Founders Park. We anticipate that in the next month, the dirt in the large basin will be removed, and we hope with an end-of-the-year fund-raising push, that we can raised another $20,000 and ship the fountain to Alabama.
Please contact my Dad Ted Bell for more information 732-775-5642.  

Or contact the HSOG.

Editor’s Note:  This is a true OG community project which will significantly enhance our historic credentials and be a focal point for town events such as historic reenactments, picnics, lectures, concerts and art shows.

I would point out that historic tourism is what should be enhanced in the Grove–tugging us away from the endless giant flea markets, car shows and other tourist oriented projects that just congest and detract from the spirit and lifestyles of a historic and family oriented town.   —Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

TED BELL tells us that it’s been  a long, long time since this fountain worked.     Here’s June Christy with a song from Ted’s era–the 1940’s:

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Historical Society of Ocean Grove’s Gayle Aanensen. 7/4/17. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©

 

AL JOLSON singing a song. Yeah!

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JUDY GARLAND——-  Original cast from the show Meet Me in St Louis:

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26 Lake Ave. This beautiful historic home restoration was monitored and approved by the HPC using its guidelines. It won a Beersheba Award in 2012/. Blogfinger photo ©

26 Lake Ave. This beautiful historic home restoration was monitored and approved by the HPC using its guidelines. It won a Beersheba Award in 2012. Blogfinger photo ©

 By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfnger

A large crowd, mostly from Ocean Grove, assembled  on Monday night, December 12, at the Neptune Municipal Building for the regular session of the 5-person Township Committee.

The crowd was there because of an  item on the agenda: the rewriting of the Historic Preservation Guidelines.  But it quickly became apparent that ordinance #16-45 would be tabled.  The motion was made by Committeeman Nick Williams.  The crowd was not pleased. 

The Historic Guidelines are implemented by the HPC (Historic Preservation Commission) whose 7 members (and 2 alternates) are appointed by the mayor of Neptune Township.

Evidently, two Township Committeemen, Rizzo and Brantley, commissioned these revised guidelines and placed them on the agenda three days before the meeting.  The document was not properly marked up to reveal where the changes were, and interested parties had a difficult time deciphering the new document.  Even Committeemen Brantley  complained that he could not understand it.

This is ostensibly why the item was tabled three days after it suddenly appeared on the agenda.   Do you buy that?

The OGHOA had declared prior to the meeting that the changes would weaken the authority of the HPC to maintain historic construction standards in town. The Historical Society of OG came up with similar concerns, and both groups encouraged Grovers to come to the meeting. 

The HPC itself made no formal announcement about their opinions, but it is our understanding that they are not pleased with the changes.   Don’t they have an obligation to inform the OG public about their concerns?  

One change that emerged prior to the meeting was the idea that the HPC could only regulate the parts of buildings (the façades) that front on a street.  This is a big issue because its implementation could adversely affect the look of the town and perhaps even the chance to keep the historic designations which we have received—-federal and state.  

Many believe that weakening the guidelines will make it easier for developers and investors to introduce more condos and other buildings including non-Victorian private homes which could jeopardize the special character of Ocean Grove.  Without the guidelines we could become another Bradley Beach.

The HPC War is about that vulnerability, and there are concerns regarding the underlying motives behind this attempt to re-write the guidelines.  Committeeman Carol Rizzo asserted at the meeting that the reason for the re-write was  because of two complaints about the cost of HPC compliance.

Well, heck, folks sometimes complain about the HPC rules, but that shouldn’t prompt a re-write.   It is those rules that help keep the town the way we like it.

 What is the real reason for the new guidelines and why was it placed on the agenda in such an abrupt way without proper documentation and opportunity for study?

And, along those lines, we need to know who wrote the new document and why that document says “prepared by the HPC” on the cover when the HPC says it had nothing to do with it? 

This issue has significant potential repercussions, and the Mayor owes the people of Ocean Grove a true explanation.  In our initial article on this we suggested that the weakening of architectural standards is only one component of a conspiracy by Neptune/OG insiders to change Ocean Grove.  There have been plenty of reasons to suspect such a movement.

Last night a number of you went to the microphone for your 5 minutes in the spotlight. How about telling Blogfinger what you said?  Note that all those comments were recorded and can be retrieved whenever the CD is available. We will post your information anonymously if you wish.   Contact us at Blogfinger@verizon.net.

Please use this post for further comments on this topic. 

www.neptunetownship.org/departments/historic-preservation-commission

 

SAM AND DAVE:

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