Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history by Blogfinger’ Category

Main AVenue, 1918, looking west from Ocean Avenue. Postcards courtesy of Traci Stein.

Main Avenue, 1918, looking west “from The Beach”.  #10 Main Avenue is partially blocked by the white winged statue.   Postcards courtesy of Traci Stein.


Main Avenue looking west. The card shows the Pine Tree Inn on the left (white at the start of the row.).. The back is dated 1916.

Main Avenue looking west. The card shows the Pine Tree Inn on the left (white at the start of the row.).. The back is dated 1916.


The back of the card just above clearly says 1916.

The back of the card just above clearly says 1916.


Earlier this month, we posted an article having to do with tracing the history of #10 Main Avenue—the Pine Tree Inn.  Below is a link that describes what the HSOG thought was the evolution of a classic 19th century hotel building to a much different-appearing inn that we would all now recognize.


Supposedly, the drastic change occurred some time in the 20th century.  But the two buildings look so different, that we heard from a prior owner who sent us two postcards, 1916 and 1918 which show #10 Main Avenue looking like it does today.    This individual thinks that the old Victorian was on Ocean Pathway and not at the current location of #10 Main.  We may need a forensic expert to figure this one out.  Thanks to Traci Stein who shared her proof that the Pine Tree Inn looked the same so early in the last century.

On top is the 1918 old postcard in which the white building is seen from the side on the left side, first in the row.   Also note the winged statue in the foreground.  I believe it had some religious significance.     An attempt to raise funds to restore and replace that sculpture never panned out, but would Grovers really want that back today?

So, it is still possible that the changeover did occur before that, or maybe the HSOG is wrong in their assessment. The ball is now in their court.

ADELE:  “A Million Years Ago.”

Editor’s Music  Note:  This Adele song  sounds almost identical to a song called “Yesterday When I Was Young.”  It was written by Charles Aznavour, and here is Julio Iglesias to remind you.    Can someone spell plagiarism? In researching this, it seems that I am not the first to point this out. —-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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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:


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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Kylie DeMartine and Eddie Holmes, both of OG, enjoy the tent life, accompanied by our investigative reporter  (Blogfinger staff) Chico.

Kylie DeMartine and Eddie Holmes, both of OG, enjoy the tent life, accompanied by our investigative reporter (Blogfinger staff) Chico.


Rev. Stokes would be proud. When the original founders had their first meeting in Founders’ Park in 1869   (well, it wasn’t called that then) they set up tents on the banks of Wesley Lake (currently known as the “Wesley Retention/Detention Basin”)  and had a prayer session.  Eventually there were about 1,000 tents in the Grove.  People loved to camp out and enjoy the summer lifestyle of the Camp Meeting movement.

Now, there are about 100 tents still in action in the Grove.  Several new ones were set up recently after a fire.

But today, June 11, 2016 we had a historic reenactment in Firemen’s Park where two Grover kids enjoyed the tent life as did kids over 140  years ago.

Maybe Kylie and Eddie will start a new tradition in the Grove.  We no longer have a Civil War reenactment here, so how about an OG Pioneers Day every June?

FATS DOMINO   (live):

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Is this true? Think about it. Blogfinger photo 2014. ©

Ocean Grove, NJ.  Is this slogan true in OG?  Think about it. Blogfinger photo 2014. ©  Click to enlarge

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The issue boils down to a more specific question:   Is the Ocean Grove of 2016 a community of like-minded groups and individuals that would work together to block condo and commercial development at the North End?

A Grover who lived here in 1986 tells us that the many voices who pushed back against the South End project contributed in a significant way to the failure of that plan.  But he doubts that we have similar conditions now.


Concept drawing 1986 of South End condo project, 7 stories.

Concept drawing 1986 of South End condo project, 7 stories.


As you know from our prior pieces on this subject, in 1986 the Camp Meeting Association made a deal to sell their open beachfront property at the South End to a developer who would construct a 7 story, 53 unit condominium building at that location. The voices of those who had opinions about the issue were heard in the videos which we posted (see link.)


What is clear from the videos and some personal conversations, is that a groundswell of opposition was heard in 1986 which contributed to  the defeat of the project. and we are now left with the beautiful open natural area which can be seen today near Fletcher Lake and the beach.

We also know that the State was claiming riparian rights, and the developers were finding that to be a formidable roadblock, but listen (below)  to some of those Grovarian voices that were willing to speak up against the South End condominium Plan.      Then ask yourselves whether there is any comparable push back today, 2016, from Ocean Grovers who want to  block the North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP.)

We have  also included below some local 1986 voices that supported the project. They may have opposed the citizens, but at least they were willing to speak publicly. Today, the developers are anonymous and never say a word to the public:


———-CMA President Truitt admitted publicly that this South End plan was because the CMA needed money to pay for the beachfront expenses..  He said, “We are trying to merchandise the property.”  The CMA recruited the Schneider group to find a way to make money through development. Truitt said that “residents are concerned with preserving the historical beauty of the Grove which may be threatened by condominiums.”  But he liked the plan  design.

—–Ocean Grove Homeowners Association was represented by President Bill Benford. He said that the project is “totally unacceptable.” He voiced his concerns about density, bulkheads, storms, shadows and environmental issues. He said, “This structure is totally out of character for the rest of Ocean Grove.” Today the HOA stands in opposition to the citizens.

—–Norm Buchman, President of the OG Historical Society and a member of the CMA Board: “Many of our members object to this project. It’s too large..” He added, “I don’t like the project.”


—–Ocean Grovers come out in force.   On January 28, 1987, over 200 OG residents met with the Board of Adjustment regarding their opposition to the project expressing concerns about the height, fire safety, congestion, blocking views and breezes, flooding, parking,  foundation design and Victorian features. The next meeting was scheduled for February, but we don’t have those records.

—– A group of citizens got together and pooled funds to pay a lawyer who showed up and pushed back on behalf of the Grove.

—–Ed Handler, Grover worried that the plan “lacked the ambience of Victorianism.”

—–Business community. Owner of Nagle’s and resident, John Gross,  was totally opposed and said so publicly. He spoke about the loss of air, light and open space. He said that there would result “a loss of quality of life.”  Also said, “In the long run it would change the town and discourage visitors. OG would not be as attractive a community to live in.”

—–HPC  (BAR) turned down the preliminary design. Then, no final site plan was ever submitted.

—–DEP claimed a “State riparian interest” because tidal water was involved.  Fletcher Lake  (aka Goose Pond) had, at one time, opened to the sea.  The  lawyer (Schneider”)  said that this posed a major obstacle” and that he might have to sue the State.

—–An outside environmental group American Littoral Society fights/lobbies to protect shorelines. They were watching to see if the developers in OG were to get a NJ “coastal permit” for projects over 25 units. Their spokesman said, “Our reaction is very negative.”

—–Resident Kevin Chambers said that “the structure is out of place for the community.” He said that they would build “right on top of the dunes.”

—–Resident and historian Ted Bell: “OG is something very unique in the US (a planned community in  the 1870’s) and has changed little over last 100 years.”

—–Resident Jim Garley of Broadway said, “I’m against the CMA for recommending this building.”

—–Resident Victor Burke said “This will definitely change the quality of life. We will have excess housing density and utility overload (more police, trash, electric and water)

—–A Fire Department representative worried about a “disaster” in a building over 4 stories.

—–The Board of Adjustment preliminarily said that the design was “inappropriate to the style and scale of Ocean Grove.”

—–Vito Gadaleta, Neptune Zoning Official:  “Project violates zoning rules for historic and recreation zones—need multiple use variances.”

—–A developer from North Jersey’s Schneider Group admitted that Ocean Grove already has a “very serious problem with congestion” in the summer, but he denied that this project would make things worse.   Yet he was willing to speak publicly about the matter.   He also spoke about his “option agreement” to buy the land from the CMA. He admitted that he needs DEP and Zoning and Board approvals.

—– Architect for the project H. Robert Yaeger spoke out and defended the proposed sprawl along the South End Boardwalk, Fletcher Lake and Broadway.

In the end, the  South End project was never approved.



CMA President Truitt  also admitted in 1986  that they were planning a large building at the North End with over 200 units (4 times the size of the South End building). Some say that it was to be a nursing facility. He said that there would be a large increase in congestion.

It was never built for reasons which are unknown to us, but the CMA was willing even then to overload the North End,  and so what do you expect now from them?

So, in conclusion, the Ocean Grove of 2016 is nothing like the activist community which existed in 1986.

Too many citizens and organizations in the Grove in 2016 are apathetic as they pursue their own singular agendas, with little interest in the town’s history and future.

The future of this town is endangered, and it looks like we have no cohesive community to stand at the barricades. If the NERP is built, the Grove will become a much different place.  Do you want that?

IRIS DeMENT   “Our Town”

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Dark clouds over Ocean Grove. Trouble brewing, right here in River City. Paul Goldfinger photo before the rain. ©

Dark clouds over Ocean Grove. Trouble brewing, right here in River City. Paul Goldfinger photo. Soon it’s gonna rain. ©

NY TIMES:   June 29, 1986

Inspired by what Mayor Anthony Molinaro of Neptune says is ”the most reasonably priced oceanfront property left in New Jersey or New York,” local and out-of-town developers and real-estate people have been converting historic guest houses and large hotels into apartments and condominiums.

Young professionals and other outsiders have been buying and improving old homes. A three-bedroom house in fairly good condition two or three blocks from the Atlantic can be bought for about $150,000; farther from the beach, prices are lower. A rare oceanfront property that could cost $500,000 or more in some wealthy coastal towns would be about $250,000 to $300,000 here.

Along the oceanfront alone are two proposed projects that would add 350 apartments and 52 condominium units.

”Where people once came down here to get a room,” said Mayor Molinaro, ”they’re now coming down to get a condominium.”

”The place is going downhill,” Mr. Douglas  (retired merchant) said, adding that since Neptune Township started running things, police protection had decreased, motor-vehicle offenses had increased, parking had become impossible and infrastructure needs had been neglected.

Of the $3 million a year in taxes collected in Ocean Grove, Mr. Douglas said, ”very little” has been put back into the community


Watch for our next article comparing what happened in 1986 to defeat a major building project at both the North End and the South End.   What were the ingredients which produced those victories, and can such a feat be duplicated now?



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Fletcher Lake. c. 1999. No condos at the south end. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Fletcher Lake. c. 1999. No condos at the south end. Paul Goldfinger photo ©


30 years ago, the citizens fought off the proposed condominium on the South End of Fletcher Lake. It has been done before and can be done again!

Note that citizens formed a group to fight this thing.   That citizen opposition was loud and insistent, and it plus the rejection of the idea by the Fire Department ultimately finished off the plan.

This 2 part video is shared by someone who is familiar with this precedent setting event.

Wake up and smell the sweet aroma of history in Ocean Grove. Thanks to the friend of OG who sent this to us.

Paul @Blogfinger


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2012  Ocean Grove United marches in town for what they believe in.  Blogfinger photo. 2012.

2012 Ocean Grove United marches in town for what they believe in. Blogfinger photo. 2012.  Click to enlarge.   ©

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

I have experienced apathy in our democracy before. It happened in 1999 when corporate raiders tried to close a fine community hospital. They had no interest in what was best for the community, and the politicians were on the side of whoever showed them the money.

We went to Trenton where we met a brick wall at the Department of Health. The Governor’s office turned its back.  We tried the NJ Medical Society, but they didn’t care.  About ten local mayors joined us, but they had no real  power.

But what hurt the most was the absence of community support by citizens who were too busy to get behind a hospital that delivered their kids and cared for their relatives and neighbors. In our democracy, the power ultimately resides with the people, but the people often don’t try to assert that power—they depend on elected officials, but they often fail the public.

We put together a community coalition, but only a small group actually turned out. We lost the  battle.

In Ocean Grove I am seeing the same sort of thing. Citizens are too busy to do something to save our town.  There are no leaders to carry banners, to demonstrate, to come to Committee and Board meetings, to pressure politicians.  There are no activists (with a couple of exceptions.)

Did any of you see the footage of activism in the Ukraine when people risked their lives because they wanted freedom?  That story is awe inspiring.

So is the story of the OGHOA from 25 years ago which showed courage and determination in the early 1990’s when they marshaled a variety of forces to turn the tide and bring the town back to recovery. Of course now is another story.

On Blogfinger we are trying to provide information and interpretation of what we see.  One person is actually putting his personal money on the line to challenge the Township.

But based on the history in this town of elected officials ignoring state laws, favoritism for insiders/developers, marginalizing the taxpayers of Ocean Grove, and community organizations  which are  failing to address issues that affect the town’s future as a historic place, the slipping and sliding will continue, and this town may be OK in the future, but it will lose its soul.

THE EURYTHMICS—  “I Saved the World Today.”

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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.*”



*All quotes are from Stokes’ autobiography.

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The New Jersey Site Improvement Advisory Board (SIAB) will meet briefly on Thursday, December 17, 2015 in Room 129 of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.  The meeting will begin at 10:AM and should be over by 10:30 AM.  The agenda is attached.

Immediately following, the streets and parking committee will discuss the special area application for the Ocean Grove neighborhood in Neptune Township, Monmouth County.  This meeting should end by noon.  If more time is needed for testimony, the committee will meet at a later date.  Note that there will be an opportunity for public comments.

This is a chance for citizen activists to voice their concerns that an approval of the Neptune application might make it easier for condo conversions without parking to continue in Ocean Grove.

And,incidentally, Blogfinger will attend the meeting, and jack Bredin, our researcher will present a novel idea to the sub-committee.  Some of you should come just for the shear spectacle of it all. Maybe the Home Groaners will show up along with other do-nothing representatives of OG’s citizens including the Township Committee.



Meeting Agenda for Thursday, December 17, 2015





  1. Ocean Grove proposed standards to be discussed by streets & parking committee





BF link “secretive Neptune Twp”

BF link on special standard part 2

BF article Nov. 21, 2015

Take a look at the link below and pay attention to the permitted uses in the historic district, especially the ocean front area. This is what was submitted to the Federal Government  in the 1970’s  when permission was requested for the historic designation. What would they think now  if they saw the NERP plan and the condos in that area?

OG special area app appdx part B

Below is a portion of the above document (screen shot)  which describes how the North End was when Ocean Grove was first developed—-this is the true OG history which should be emulated with the same spirit, including nothing residential east of the boardwalk and nothing west either, although a hotel was later built over there to the west.

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 11.33.18 AM


Do you believe that “anything goes” when it comes to Ocean Grove zoning issues?    Well, most Grovers do not trust the Township to do what’s best for OG.  You might consider going to this meeting.

As Frank Sinatra once said, “Anything Goes.”



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