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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history by Blogfinger’ Category

Submitted by Ocean Grover Vincent Cannavo. Special to Blogfinger. Click to see more  (or Seymour.)

 

 

Grover Vincent Cannavo found a number of Wesley Lake photographs on line which carry a copyright date of 1903, although the photos may have been taken earlier.  In this image  you are standing on the OG side  of the Lake. We can see boats for hire as well as the A. Park amusements.

Vincent points out how different Asbury looked back then, although the OG side looks unchanged in other views.  Notice how Lake Avenue was a walkway back then.  No horse poop in sight.

That’s not surprising because the OG side managed to be a planned town, and the Victorian houses were somehow preserved even though there was no zoning, HPC or historical designations.

 

Thanks to Vincent for these images.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

ANDY FARBER AND HIS ORCHESTRA  WITH JOHN HENDRICKSON AND TERRY DONGIAN

 

 

 

 

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This photograph is the first in Ted Bell's Images of America: Ocean Grove.

This photograph  (with permission)  is the first in Ted Bell’s ” Images of America: Ocean Grove.”  CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

BLOGFINGER RE-RUN FROM 2010.  It’s important that more people other than tourists learn OG history.  This timeline gives some perspective for new Grovers and others who ought to educate themselves to this sequence of events. Thus we periodically re-post this timeline.

By Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor @Blogfinger.net.

 

Ocean Grove’s history is a fascinating saga about how a Methodist summer community founded in 1869 eventually evolved into a historic and diverse year-round tourist town while preserving its religious and architectural characteristics.

Sure it’s about the Camp Meeting Association (CMA), the Great Auditorium, the tents, and the famous religious figures who took center stage since the founding, but there is so much more to tell,  particularly about the town’s secular history including:  its governance; the multiple attempts to secede from Neptune;  the successful but temporary creation of  an independent secular Borough of Ocean Grove in 1920; opening of the gates in 1979; loss of governance by the CMA in 1980; the decline of the “blue laws”;  the extraordinary  successes of the Ocean Grove Homeowner’s Association as they transform OG from shabbiness to renaissance by the 1990’s; the remarkable demographic changes of the 1990’s including the growth of the gay community,  the amazing musical heritage, the fights over taxes, and there is so much more.

The Historical Society of Ocean Grove has offered wonderful exhibits about such topics as the women’s suffrage movement and the African-American “history trail” here, and we at Blogfinger  have run two pieces about John Phillip Sousa in Ocean Grove as well as the account of Paul Robeson’s 1925 concert in the Great Auditorium.

We plan to continue our series of articles on some of the less well known accounts in Ocean Grove’s history, especially focusing on secular events. We will begin the process of digging into Ocean Grove’s fascinating past with a time-line. It’s important for Grovers to know this history.  You may be surprised by some of the items below:

1869: Ocean Grove is founded by the Rev. William Osborne and his colleagues. They form the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church (CMA) and begin purchasing land. The town is part of Ocean Township. The CMA’s goal is to provide and maintain a Christian seaside resort.

1870: The New Jersey Legislature grants a charter to CMA which allows them to govern in Ocean Grove. They can make ordinances, establish a police department and a court of law, and administer all infrastructure and services including schools, sanitation and library.

The town is designed “from scratch,” becoming one of the first planned communities in the US. The first lots are “sold” (i.e. leased) from the CMA which retains ownership of all the land. The first cottage is built in 1870.

1872:  Over 300 cottages have been built.

1875: Rev Adam Wallace founds the Ocean Grove Record, the town’s first newspaper. Rev. E. H. Stokes, the first CMA President says, regarding the gate closure on Sunday, that “there is no human probability that these rules will ever be revoked.” The first train from New York arrives in OG. People begin to stay year round.

1879:  The NJ Legislature creates Neptune Township by carving it out of Ocean Township and incorporates Ocean Grove’s boundaries as part of Neptune. Ocean Grove CMA and lot/home owners pay taxes to Neptune. Leaseholders (“lessees”) must continue to pay “ground rent” to the CMA.

The CMA refuses all services from Neptune and continues to function as the “governing authority,” maintaining rigid control in OG.   Physical isolation within its boundaries, “blue laws,” land ownership, and a homogeneous population of Methodists contribute to the sustained CMA rule.  Ocean Grove is, in practice, a theocracy. But that will become a problem for them over 100 years later.

1897: The first mention of tax discontentment appears as CMA President Bishop Fitzgerald speaks publicly about Neptune’s tax bill and says, “Of the discrimination against us in the matter of taxation does not as yet seem to admit of remedy.”

1898:  Ocean Grove’s “lessees,” who pay property  taxes to Neptune Township, want the CMA to pay the land taxes to Neptune. A suit is brought by the homeowners, but in 1900 the NJ Supreme Court sides with the CMA.

1912: Ocean Grove’s citizens want to participate in the town’s governance, so they elect a Board of Representative Lessees to join with the CMA in managing the town’s affairs.  There was unrest, with many citizens disliking this peculiar arrangement and wanting Ocean Grove to be a regular town with an elected secular government.

1915: the Ocean Grove Taxpayers and Protective League is formed.

1918: CMA has financial problems and asks Neptune to take over police, garbage and sanitation functions. Neptune refuses.

1920. The Lessee Board is dissolved, and the Civic Betterment League is formed. Its goal is the creation of an independent Ocean Grove Borough.  The CMA supports the idea, and the NJ Legislature passes an Ocean Grove Borough bill which creates an incorporated borough, apart from Neptune.  Governor Edwards signs it into law, a referendum in town receives wide support, and local elections are held.

The new Borough of Ocean Grove operates for one year, but they retain the CMA “blue laws”. Opponents in town want things the old way and they form the “Lessees Association” They sue in State Supreme Court.

1921: The NJ Court of Errors and Appeals finds the Borough bill to be unconstitutional, because the Borough has allowed religious ordinances to stand. The Borough bill might have been upheld if the “blue laws” were discarded, but the CMA and its supporters refuse. The Borough is dissolved, and governance goes back to Neptune and the CMA. This was not the first attempt to gain secular control of OG, but this one came the closest.

1923: A bill to make Ocean Grove a separate tax district with its own tax rates gets “lost in the legislature.”

1924:  A big battle ensues as Neptune tries to substantially increase the CMA’s taxes, including high taxes on the beach, Auditorium, streets, sewers, etc. CMA wins in 1925 at the NJ Tax Board, and most of their holdings are not taxed.

1925-1960:  The town is a popular summer resort and is known internationally.  Huge crowds visit along with US Presidents and many celebrities. As for the ongoing arguments in Ocean Grove, the historian Gibbon says, in 1939, “Many times residents and land lessees of the town have voiced their objection to the local rules, to the tax situation or to the form of government, especially from 1900-1925, and there have been many court fights.”

For the most part, things stay the same.

1960-1980: Ocean Grove declines, along with much of the Jersey shore. (See below)

1975:   A group of dedicated citizens led by Mr. Ted Bell and his colleagues obtain approval for OG’s designation as a State and National historic district. It is a complicated process.  Formation of Board of Architectural Review (BAR) happens in 1984.  (Later re-named the Historic Preservation Commission—HPC.)

1975:  A newspaper service sues over Sunday’s gate closures, which had been permitted by town ordinance.  The NJ Supreme Court strikes down the ordinance on grounds that it violates the first amendment to the Constitution (freedom of the press). The gates are opened for the news service only, but the CMA is allowed to continue its theocratic governance of Ocean Grove and the enforcement of other “blue laws”. Many people in Ocean Grove view the gates’ opening as an unhappy event.

1977:  A lawsuit stemming from a drunk-driving conviction challenges the authority of Ocean Grove’s municipal court. The NJ Supreme Court widens the scope of the case and decides in June, 1979 that CMA governance in Ocean Grove is in violation of the Constitutional separation of church and state. Appeals are filed. This marks the beginning of the end for CMA governance in OG.

1980: The US Supreme Court would not hear the appeal, so governance of OG is transferred from the CMA to Neptune Township. Neptune eventually eliminates most of the blue laws. Only the Sunday morning beach closure and the ban on alcohol sales remain.

1980’s:   By the 1980’s, the town is characterized by an overall “decrepitude,” including deterioration of buildings, declining tourism, crime, and a growing poor elderly population. (2)  Deinstitutionalized mental patients are housed in empty old hotels and rooming houses in Ocean Grove. The town becomes a “psychiatric ghetto” (NY Times, October 1988), and, by the 1980’s, 10% of the town’s population are mental cases who are not receiving appropriate services and are sometimes abused by landlords. The prognosis for Ocean Grove is dire.

During this period, the Ocean Grove Homeowner’s Association (OGHOA) develops as a political and activist force that successfully begins the process of converting the town from decay to renaissance. (2f)

1990’s:  OGHOA, led by Mr. Herb Herbst, Fran Paladino and others, fight for fair treatment in the allotment of the mentally ill around the state. The group’s political contacts and influence are considerable. The process is complex and difficult, but the numbers of “de-institutionalized” in OG drops considerably.

The group also saw to the closing of many substandard boarding and rooming houses. The HOA presents Neptune with a “master plan” to protect the historic nature of OG and to rezone for the promotion of single family houses. OGHOA promotes secular tourism while working with CMA to increase religious tourism.  New people come into town to buy homes and invest in businesses.

1995:

The historic Neptune High School is saved from becoming low income housing by a group of Ocean Grove homeowners led by Mr. Herb Herbst and with the assistance of State Senator Joseph Palaia and others. (3, 4)  The Jersey Shore Arts Center is owned and run today by a nonprofit tax exempt organization: The Ocean Grove Historic Preservation Society.

2000:  Secular goals achieved as of 2000: increased property values, increased upgrading of houses, improved relations with Neptune, improved downtown with quaint shops, art galleries, cafes, etc., reduced crime, increased tourism, reduced de-institutionalized patients, demographic changes (increased gays, empty nesters, retirees,  professionals, academics, young artists, and middle class families).

2005: House prices peak.

2007:  New topics emerge:  North End development, Ocean Pavilion dispute (gays vs. CMA), evolving demographics including more second home purchases, significant increases in property taxes, parking problems, Asbury Park development stalls, and home prices decline.

2009:  Ocean Grove blog is founded  (Blogfinger.net) by Paul Goldfinger, MD to help fill in the gap created when the OG newspaper closed. It offered a place to voice opinions about Ocean Grove’s many ongoing issues.

October 29, 2012.  super-storm Sandy hits the Jersey Shore and destroys the Ocean Grove beachfront, part of the Great Auditorium roof, and floods the south side of town.

 

2009-2022:  Blogfinger documents ongoing issues in town.  Use the search engine on top right.

 

SAM AND DAVE:

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

1.  R. Gibbons, History of Ocean Grove: 1869-1939 (Ocean Grove Times, 1939)

2.  K. Schmelzkopf, Landscape, ideology, and religion: a geography of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, Journal of Historical Geography, 28, 4 (2002) 589-608

3. Kevin  Chambers, Herb Herbst, and Wayne T. Bell, personal communication,( 2008)

4. Archives, Asbury Park Press, (Feb 19, 1997.)

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Ocean Grove, New Jersey. April 20, 2015. By Paul Goldfinger. © Blogfinger.net

Ocean Grove, New Jersey. April 20, 2015. By Paul Goldfinger. © Blogfinger.net Click to enlarge.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

“I hereby acknowledge the good hand of God in leading me from the beginning until now.”     With these words, written in 1897, Elwood H. Stokes began his autobiography called “Footprints in My Own Life” published in 1898 in Asbury Park by the Press of  M., W. & C. Pennypacker.

A note on page 8 gives a clue as to why he was inspired to write this book.  The frontispiece says “Upon these sea-bleached sands I wrote my name, but one swell of the rising waters wiped it out forever; so will the fast flowing billows of time soon erase my name from the records of earth, and the world will pass on as though a generation of us had never existed.”

Stokes  (1815-1897)  was born into a poor family of Quakers.  He had an uncle named Job.  When he was 16 years old he wanted to join the other boys in sinful activities.  He said, “I tried to plunge into sin, but an invisible power held me back.”  He married Hannah Neff when he was 23.  They had one child–Mary.

After becoming a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church he traveled the circuit and later was given assignments in New Brunswick, Trenton, Newark and Morristown among a number of such New Jersey towns.

At the age of 29, in Long Branch, NJ, Stokes saw the ocean for the first time, and he was powerfully impressed. He said,”I looked! I was astounded! I had seen lofty mountains and noble  rivers; I had seen the beautiful valley, the sloping hill, the winding rivulet; I had seen nature and art combined, forming the most romantic landscapes;—-but never, never had I seen a sight so majestic as the mighty ocean.”

He rose in the ranks and was present on July 31, 1869 when Ocean Grove was founded by a group of Methodist preachers. In 1870 he was named President of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and he kept that position until he died. He was a much beloved religious leader who led the development of Ocean Grove to the point where huge crowds would come in the summers.  Thanks to him, Ocean Grove today is the longest active Camp Meeting in the United States.

In his latter years, the religious leaders in the Grove became concerned about increased secularism.  Stokes noted that with the increased prosperity of the Camp Meeting attendees, more and more activities were focused on pleasure rather than religion. But Stokes continued his hard work in promoting the Camp Meeting religious life including services on the beach  attended by thousands and sacred music in the Tabernacle.

He never finished his autobiography, so the last chapter was written by his friend and colleague Rev. Dr. Ballard who concluded by saying, “Whatever may come in the future–however much the forms and customs may change as they have already changed—the names of Ellwood H. Stokes and Ocean Grove will stand together while time has a history or eternity a record.*”

 

MOLLY O’DAY

2021;   “Changes in the Grove? We’re always traveling that highway home.”—PG

 

*All quotes are from Stokes’ autobiography.

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Ocean Grove was founded as a religious summer community. It was run by Methodist ministers, and Alfred Cookman was one of them. His story has been told on Blogfinger. Do a search.

 

Blogfinger posted a piece on May 5, 2019  (scroll up)  about the confusion in terminology for those who are unsure about the relationship of the Town of Ocean Grove to the Camp Meeting Association.  The unique story of the CMA in OG, with its history of running the town for over 100 years, making laws, and prevailing here in so many ways, up to the present, has to be unheard of across the country.  If anyone knows of some comparable place, please let us know.

That  post is called, “How to Refer to Our Town.”

If you look at the comments section of that article, you will see a statement by Grover 13 who thinks he/she knows the truth.  Jack Bredin was moved to try and explain the background of some of this, and his contribution below is very special–I’ve never seen anyone else take a shot at explaining that history.  .—–Paul Goldfinger,  Editor, Blogfinger.net

 

To Grover 13 from Jack Bredin, Researcher/reporter/historian  at Blogfinger.net:

“For over 100 years, from 1869-1980, the “Town” of Ocean Grove was first “illegally permitted” by Ocean Township in 1869 and then by Neptune Township from 1879-1980 to act as its own municipality. OG had their own police department, court, board of health, etc. The “Town” was operated pursuant to CMA rules and not State Law; and the OG residents could not vote for the OG “governing body” which was the CMA.  However, the OG residents did have the privilege to pay taxes to Neptune and vote for the Township Committee.

“And so the residents in fact had two (2) governing bodies, both acting outside State Law, but I don’t blame the CMA for doing what the Township permitted them to do. However, in 1980, the NJ Supreme Court said this all must stop.

“Ocean Grove was also founded by the CMA as a Camp Meeting Ground for people who belonged to the Methodist Church, but the CMA is not the Methodist Church in town; St. Paul’s is the Church.

“The CMA registered with the NJ Secretary of State as a corporation. When the Corporation “divided” the land into 2,000 parcels, one (1) share of voting stock should have been issued to each “Lot Owner.” As a result, OG residents could not vote for their OG municipal governing body or at a stock holders meeting.

“As NJ State Land Use Law, State Land Use Standards, and State Land Use Procedures evolved over the years throughout the State, land use law and procedures in OG remained unchanged, and they are now interpreted by the Neptune Township “Land Use Administrator” who has no authority to make any land use decisions.

“Is it any wonder why OG has so many land use problems?

“Paul Goldfinger is one of the few people in OG trying to make sense of it all, and Blogfinger is the only one reporting on it.”

 

BEATLES:   (Paul McCartney)

“The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door”

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Peter Tallman, Union Army soldier, 1861. Submitted by Peter Stunz of Ocean Grove.

We received this photograph from Peter Stunz of Ocean Grove.   His email offers this explanation:

Just a side note: This is my great grandfather Peter Tallman (I was named after him, my mother’s maiden name is Tallman). He was a volunteer with the 127th Volunteer Infantry.  He never saw a battlefield. He was severely injured when a tree limb fell on him while they were clearing a path somewhere unknown.

His past was one of many reasons that lead me to be a student of history.  I would also like to add as a side note that the Tallmans have been living in Ocean Grove (renting) since nearly the beginning and we have had our summer home here since 1955. We love reading your blog and have been loyal readers since Sandy.

Editor’s note:  Thanks to Peter for sharing.  I love to hear  anecdotes from those who have lived here and know the history of Ocean Grove.  Of course, OG was founded after the Civil War  (1861-1865.)  But, the Methodist antecedents that ultimately led to the founding of the Grove, had their origins much earlier.

There were many Civil War soldiers from New Jersey and New York, and Peter’s great grandfather was a member of a volunteer regiment that was mustered in 1862 in Staten Island for 3 years service  (until 1865).   It was, as he points out, the 127th Volunteer New York Infantry Regiment.

That outfit did see some action, but I was interested, from a medical point of view, to learn that they lost 130 men—35 killed and 94 dead of “disease.”  Conditions tended to be awful for soldiers on both sides, with malnutrition, poor water, bad hygiene and of course many communicable diseases before the age of antibiotics.  The most common medical procedure was amputation of legs—a horrible chapter in American medical history, but combat medicine/surgery is so much better now.  However, like all military preparations, we hope that the techniques will never be needed.

The photograph Peter sent is a daguerreotype, a process that was invented around 1840 by Louis Daguerre and used mostly for portraits.  It was an expensive and fragile method using silvered   (light sensitive) copper plates. These images are  very collectible these days, especially ones that are of Civil War soldiers.

Below is a link on BF that discusses photography during the Civil War  (the last part of a piece about a historic photograph from Ocean Grove):

Fred’s Last Summer

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

JAQUELINE SCHWAB  “The Battle Cry of Freedom”  from Ken Burns documentary “The Civil War.”

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Whitefield Avenue runs down the middle of Embury Arms providing private parking spaces. Blogfinger photo. 9/22/15 © Whitefield Avenue runs down the middle of Embury Arms, oriented north and south,  providing private parking spaces. Blogfinger.net  photograph. 9/22/15 ©

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

Here is a re-post of part I of our research about the Embury Arms Condominiums posted in September of 2015. Time to re-read it now in 2020.  The dots between it and the current North End Plan can be connected.

Recently a reader wondered about the Embury Arms condominiums. Her concern came about in the midst of our real-time discussions of the North End Project and Mary’s Place zoning. She asked how that large condo project came about and whether there were issues then similar to the ones that we have been considering recently.

Embury Arms condominiums on Whitefield Avenue consist of 112 units. It was built in the 1980’s. Old OG newspaper reports say that the CMA approved the project in 1978, and then the ground breaking ceremony was held in 1980.  Those news reports never mention approvals by Neptune Twp. nor do they mention any concerns about historic preservation.  They do talk about energy conservation measures that won awards for the developer.

These condos are 1 and 2 bedroom apartments within four large 3 story buildings. The complex sits in the middle of the Grove, surrounded by Benson, Delaware, Heck and Abbott Avenues. Embury and Webb Avenues stop short as they go west to Delaware Avenue, right at the border of the Embury Arms  condos, and Whitefield Avenue goes straight through the middle, with private parking spaces on the perimeter of a public street.

Ocean Grove Times, August 25, 1978. Ocean Grove Times, August 25, 1978.

An ad in a 1982 local newspaper  describes “authentic Victorian designs.”  The apartments were starting at $49,900.00.

These are the Embury Arms buildings as seen from the Delaware Avenue side. Blogfinger photo/ © These are the Embury Arms buildings as seen from the Delaware Avenue side. Blogfinger photo/ ©

The official 2015 CMA summer guidebook map shows Webb and Embury going straight through  to Lawrence Avenue, but they do not and they never did because west of Delaware, where Embury Arms now sits, there were stables, used mostly for storage by the Camp Meeting Association. Apparently some of the buildings were rented out for parking, but it was not an area for public parking.

It is not our intention to review the detailed history of this  condo project, but anyone walking by has to wonder how the heck the developer got permission to do this distinctly un-Grovian style condominium complex. It not only is contrary to the Master Plan as we know it, but it takes up space that could have been filled with single family Victorian style homes in order to match the appearance of the rest of the Grove.

Embury Arms provides PRIVATE parking by allowing head-on placement of vehicles on Whitefield Avenue that is partly on private property (using the theoretical front yards of those lots) but it also allows the cars to stick out over where the public sidewalks should be. In other words, that parking lot violates the public pedestrian right of way.

 

Note how Note how the sidewalk (pedestrian right of way) ends to allow parked cars to protrude into that right of way.  This is Whitefield Avenue taken by walking from Heck Avenue.  Blogfinger photo ©

Normally the right of way along a public street is 40 feet wide, consisting of the road (auto right of way) and the sidewalks (pedestrian right of way) measured together.

Yes they put some recessed sidewalks there, but that is private property, and public access could theoretically be shut down at any time. The Whitefield Ave. auto right of way is intact for cars driving through, but is not inviting for autos to drive through, and warning signs threaten anyone who would dare park there.

In addition, the project deprived Ocean Grove of many potential public parking spaces if private homes had been built on streets. Instead, all those curb cuts created a giant parking lot. Where else in town is a public street (in this case Whitefield Avenue) used for private parking?

The property was originally used for stables, so no private homes were demolished to make room. Undoubtedly the CMA, the Township, and the developer were in collusion to create this massive mistake, but the history of the time* indicates that OG was not as proactive in historic preservation then. It was a time when governance here was in a state of flux**, and the public did not protest much.  There was a suit that delayed completion, but eventually the Embury Arms condominiums were finished.   At least the condo developer of Embury Arms provided parking, even though the law was stretched to make that happen.

We have no information as to how the zoning was finessed to allow this, nor do we know what the Planning Board had to say. At any rate, it is a done deal, and nothing can be done about it at this point.

It is interesting that there is an earlier precedent.  In 1964, across from Days, a large hotel burned down, and in its place rose the Arlington Court Co-op.  consisting of one bedroom apartments for which no mortgages were allowed.   This was a new idea for the Grove, and evidently no one cared that single family Victorian homes were not built.  The CMA was in charge then and they must have supported the idea.   (? sound familiar)

However, now we are in a position to do something about the largest condominium development in the history of Ocean Grove—the North End Redevelopment Project.  But there is concern that public apathy will once again allow a wrong-headed condo project to go ahead. We have seen this illegal process before.  If no one takes  legal action when work begins or sooner, then, as with other projects in town, nothing can be done after the fact.

The CMA and the Township are counting on public inaction.  Will we let them do it again?

CREDITS:

Ted Bell*, Ocean Grove historian

Jack Bredin, Blogfinger researcher

Tom Constantino, Blogfinger researcher

** In 1980, governance of Ocean Grove was turned over to Neptune Township by the NJ Supreme Court. That transition must have taken years to work out, but the Embury Arms project took hold during that delicate time.

 

Here is a link to Part II of this Embury Arms historical review.

 

Embury Arms Part II. Blogfinger.net

 

NANCY WILSON  “Please do it again.”

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James A Bradley in Asbury Park. Accused of racism.  Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©  From 2017.  Reposted in 2018.

 

Are there any historical clouds over 19th century Ocean Grove? Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

 

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

We wrote about James Bradley as part of our Ocean Grove history trail.  Bradley was a wealthy New Yorker who was a huge fan of Ocean Grove.  He not only founded Asbury Park and Bradley Beach, but he was the first person to buy a lot in Ocean Grove (1870) when Rev. Stokes, placed the lots “for sale.”

Now, a group in Asbury wants to take down the statue of James Bradley that has a prominent location in the park to the rear of Convention Hall/Paramount Theater.  It was placed there in 1920 for the city’s 50th anniversary.

Quote from the Asbury Park Press (APP)  9/29/17:    “Randy Thompson, founder of “Help not Handcuffs,” an organization that says it promotes drug policy reform and social justice, claims Bradley promoted bigoted policies on the boardwalk and the beach.”

“He helped segregate the town,” said Thompson, 43, of Asbury Park. “That was his business model.”

That group says that Bradley was a racist, but others in Asbury disagree with the notion that his statue should be taken down. Werner Baumgartner, AP historian is quoted in the APP:  “I don’t think you can call the man a racist, when society kind of dictated certain separations,” Baumgartner said. “It might have been business pressures more than anything else, rather than a personal desire to segregate races.”

Baumgartner said the city erected the statue in honor of Bradley’s philanthropy and said that the founder donated money to local black churches.

Other leaders in A. Park also oppose taking down the statue, including the Asbury Park Historical Society which said, “People should never forget the city’s late founder James Bradley’s ‘advocacy of segregation,’  but it draws the line on removing the statue erected in his honor near Convention Hall. ”  (quoted in the APP)

Don Stine is President of the AP Historical Society,  and he is quoted in the APP:

“If you’re going to take down the statues of people who were segregationists in the United States, you would have to take down just about the statue of everybody,” said Stine said. “It was a segregated society. It just was.”

Stine said he favored keeping statues and monuments in place so that people can “learn lessons from the past.”

“He said the Historical Society is conducting a review of all statues and monuments in the city to see if it can help with their preservation. ‘We believe all monuments in this city are worthy,’ Stine said.”

An academic paper about segregation in AP 1880-1890 by David Goldberg  (see link below) points out that there was “Jim Crow enforcement*”   in both the North and the South, and James Bradley was pressured by white tourists into segregating the famous resort. Here are a few quotes from that paper:

“By 1887, however, Bradley responded by officially restricting all African Americans, both those who worked as well as those who sought to vacation in Asbury Park, from the beaches and other shore facilities. By posting signs throughout the community and stationing officers at pertinent shore locations, Bradley prohibited all black citizens from the beaches, bathing houses, pavilions, and promenades.”

“Viewing the shifting racial landscape throughout the nation, Asbury Park’s black leaders saw the resort’s emerging Jim Crow character as part of a disturbing nationwide trend toward racially-defined public and commercial boundaries.”

“Since Asbury Park served as a Diaspora for the North’s geographically-diverse white citizens, their protests against integration highlights the racist and unreconstructed sentiment of the North after emancipation.”

“As Jim Crow became permanently enforced * throughout the North and the South after 1896, these tensions would prove central to African American’s struggle for “integrated leisure,” which became an important part of the fight for racial equality and social acceptance.”

 

History of segregation in Asbury Park 1880-1890

 From the book Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards by Bell and Flynn (2004,) Asbury Park was a segregated resort in the early part of the 20th century. African-American residents and visitors were not allowed to bathe on the city’s beaches between the Casino and Convention Hall.
“They had to use the so-called “black beach” located between the Casino and the North End Pavilion (OG).”
“Interestingly, Bradley, a devout Christian, initially resisted segregating Asbury’s beaches but finally he did so reluctantly.”

Blogfinger agrees with Mr. Stine, but, given the current political trends, will it come as a shock if somebody wants the Stokes statue removed?

We know that black workers were hired in 19th century Ocean Grove  (and later)  to work in the hotels and restaurants.  They often stayed in segregated quarters, and there are old photos which show blacks posing with guests and other workers. We also know that black gospel singers and preachers performed in the Great Auditorium.

But we don’t know if African Americans came to the Grove for recreation such as the amusements at the North End, the boardwalk and the beaches.

We also don”t know if Ocean Grove’s leaders took any inspiration from the segregationists in Asbury Park or if they resisted segregation on moral grounds. Goldberg’s paper doesn’t mention the Grove.  We do know that Stokes worried abut secularism, but we found no references to racial issues in his autobiography.

Ocean Grove in the 19th century was a white Methodist town, but that was due to their trying to establish an enclave for Methodists, so the Town tried to limit its home-owning citizens by excluding all sorts of groups including Roman Catholics, Jews, and blacks.

And can we call that racism since the basis of exclusion was not color but religion—-unless they did exclude black Methodists. It’s probably more like isolationism rather than exclusionism.  It was more about keeping to themselves rather than keeping others out.  And it is certainly not segregation such as Bradley is accused of.

Stokes is probably safe from the 21st century witch hunters who are  prowling around the Jersey Shore.

If we can find any other information, we will post it.  Meanwhile this seems like an issue which we should follow.

 

ALISON KRAUSS  From the movie  O Brother Where Art Thou:  “Down to the River to Pray.”

“O brothers, let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
Come on, brothers, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray.”

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Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger reporter and staff historian. ©

Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger reporter and staff historian. ©

This post is from August 4, 2014 on Blogfinger:

Paul:

So many voices over the years have performed at the Great Auditorium.   On August 12, 1908, Ocean Grove welcomed a performance of an American operatic contralto star named Louise Homer.  She had an active international career in concert halls and opera houses from 1895 until her retirement in 1932.  She was also a member of the Metropolitan Opera in the years 1900-1919.  I put together the attachment above that has a photo of her plus various priced tickets.

Wonder if she sung a short tune at Days afterwards?

From Rich Amole, Blogfinger staff.

Editor’s note: During the years of Ocean Grove’s famed music director Tali  Esen Morgan, many great names appeared in the Great Auditorium.  He built a grand house on Abbott Avenue in 1906,  and around 1910, he entertained Enrico Caruso who put on a bit of a concert in Morgan’s front parlor. We wrote about that house and about that impromptu concert.  Here is the link:

Caruso in the Grove

It’s interesting that Rich Amole sent us these tickets which provide for seating in the gallery and the main floor.  Curiously, the brochure above refers to the “Grand Auditorium.”   That must have been a goofy misunderstanding, because the Auditorium, which was built in 1894, was just called the “Auditorium” at first and for many years.     Then a big sign on the roof said “Ocean Grove Auditorium,” and it remained up there until it was falling apart and was removed, but not replaced, in 1979.

According to Wayne T. Bell, Jr, Cindy L. Bell, and Darrell A. Dufresne, authors of  The Great Auditorium—Ocean Grove’s Architectural Treasure  (2012,)  “It took awhile” for the name “Great Auditorium” to take hold.  The authors  reviewed many sources dating back over 100 years to find out that it was in recent times, perhaps the 1970’s, that the name “Great Auditorium” became official, especially after the PR people got hold of it.

As for Louise Homer, she was a huge star in the opera world, making her debut at the Met. in 1900, performing in Aida.  For 19 consecutive seasons she played the “Met” opposite Caruso and other greats of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Here is an old recording of Louise Homer singing with Enrico Caruso and Marcel Journet in the opera Samson et Dalila.  The year was around 1920.  They are singing in French about celebrating a victory. I hope it’s not the scene where she cuts off his hair—–so sad;  I hate that part.    Rich Amole owns these tickets now, having acquired them on Ebay from some Grovers, but if he thinks he can go to the concert, sorry Rich, but you are a little late.    —-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

 

 

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This page is from the F.W. Beers Monmouth County Atlas of 1873. It shows portions of Ocean and Shrewsbury Townships. Presented by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger.

This page is from the F.W. Beers Monmouth County Atlas of 1873. It shows portions of Ocean and Shrewsbury Townships. Presented by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger.  Click to study this map.

 

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

When Ocean Grove was founded in 1869, there were very few towns nearby.  Among the towns that did exist were Long Branch, Shrewsbury,  and Farmingdale.    In 1869, no one lived in what became Asbury Park.  In 1871, Asbury Park was founded.  Shrewsbury Township was subdivided into Ocean Township and Wall Township. Ocean Grove was initially part of Ocean Township. In 1879, Neptune was carved out of Ocean Twp. and was incorporated by the State of NJ;  Ocean Grove was attached to Neptune.

Many places had different names then. For example Wesley Lake was Long Pond, while Fletcher Lake was Goose Pond.  The road that we now call Route 71, ie Main Street, stretched from Long Branch to Squan (now Manasquan) and was called “The Turnpike.”   Bradley Beach was called Ocean Pond, Avon-by-the-sea was still by the sea when it was called Key West, Belmar was Ocean Beach——but all those towns came after OG. Deal Lake was the Great Pond.

Ocean Grove consisted of dunes and trees extending from the Ocean to the Turnpike. The Camp Meeting Association team, led by Rev. Wm. Osborne, bought parcels of land from quite a few families, and it was a big job to stitch together and finance the purchase of  OG since many land owners lived elsewhere, even in other states.

Look at the map to see a large  dune, north to south, towards the southern part of town. Goose Pond  (Fletcher Lake) was partly filled in to make room for more housing.

The first permanent cottage in OG was built in 1870, and by the time this map was made, there were many tents and cottages around town.  *A large park-like area was called “Sea Drift Heights” and within it was “Gentlemen’s Walk.” It bordered Pilgrim Pathway and Main Avenue.  It was near the Tenting Grounds and Church Square.  Nearby was a “Ladies Walk.”  Another large park was near Broadway and was called “Central Park.”  Streets and houses ended at Delaware Avenue. West of there, near the Turnpike, was Evergreen Park which also bordered Wesley Lake.  Stables provided parking outside the western gates. An ice house was also over there.

*The earliest map of Ocean Grove, from 1871, can be found in Ted Bells’ book Images of America–Ocean Grove.  That map is titled Ocean Grove Camp Ground. Other old maps can be seen at the Historical Society of Ocean Grove on Pitman Avenue near Pilgrim Pathway.

 

HAVANA CARBO.  OG isn’t exactly Paris, but you can substitute the names in your head.  It’s a fine waltz.

 

 

Havana Carbo

Havana Carbo

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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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