Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history’ Category


Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger historian/reporter. Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger historian/reporter.  Click to enlarge


The attachment is a 1943 linen post card of the Quaker Inn.  This wonderful card advertises  40 rooms with running water and private bath availability.  Complete with a restaurant and soda fountain and two four digit phone numbers;  back then the Quaker still maintains it’s 136 years of history pleasing all who come to stay at the corner of Main & Central in Ocean Grove. 

Rich  Amole.   Blogfinger.net staff.          source: Ebay

Editor’s Note:  It’s remarkable how this image from 68 years ago looks like today’s Quaker Inn.

The image shown above appears in black and white in Ted Bell and Chris Flynn’s book  Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards. They also have a photo  (below—with permission) of the restaurant and soda fountain which was a bright and cheerful place seen in the picture above from the outside  as the row of windows running along Central Avenue.




Ted and Chris report that the Quaker Inn ads said, “The Perfect Location for a Grove Vacation.” —-Paul Goldfinger




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The Strand was built in 1911 at the North End. Originally it was called Scenario. From Wayne T. Bell's Images of America: Ocean Grove. (with permission)

The Strand was built in 1911 at the North End. Originally it was called Scenario. It was closed on Sundays.   From Wayne T. Bell’s Images of America: Ocean Grove. (with permission)



July 1966

July 1966. Submitted by Rich Amole


July 1966

July 1966. Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger historian and reporter.



In the 1960’s, at the North End of Ocean Grove, the Strand Theatre was the place to go to the movies.  The ads may have been simple hand outs that were distributed at the North End complex of entertainment and shops.

The depiction of the folks in line show that all are very well dressed— the ladies in high heels and skirts and the men in suits and hats.  I’m guessing that seats could be had for under a dollar.

Now can someone bring me a nice buttered popcorn and cold Coca Cola.  Forget that Tab stuff!

Rich                               Source: Ebay


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By Rich Amole, Blogfinger staff historian/researcher.


This  is a postcard image of a tall sail schooner with a bit of a breeze hitting its sails off the Grove’s beach—- 108 years ago in 1906.

Not much on text back then— just a simple “Greetings from Ocean Grove” which still holds up today, not so much for that schooner………..


COLEMAN HAWKINS    (tenor sax)   From a jazz planet far, far away–contemplates the passage of time with “What a Difference a Day Makes”

What a difference a day makes
There’s a rainbow before me
Skies above can’t be stormy
Since that moment of bliss, that thrilling kiss
It’s heaven when you find romance on your menu
What a difference a day makes
And the difference is you


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Civil War cannon sits at the edge of Wesley Lake facing north.

Civil War cannon sits in Founders’ Park at the edge of Wesley Lake facing north. Paul Goldfinger photo.© 2013. Left click


Paul Goldfinger photo. 2016. Founders’ Park, Ocean Grove ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger   (Re-posted from 2013)


In the early 1860’s, Lt. Col. Richard Delafield developed a new cannon for the army artillery which had some technical advances and which fired a 13 pound shell. It’s not clear if those Delafield cannons actually saw action in the Civil War, but an Ocean Grover, 1st Lt. George Potts, managed to acquire one, probably as war surplus, and he brought it back to the Grove .

He had a small house on the shore of Wesley Lake, and, c. 1880, he placed the cannon there as an Ocean Grove Civil War Memorial. The cannon was in a “strategic location” (all quotes are by Phil May) because when tourists got off the train in Asbury Park, they took a ferry ride costing one cent to cross the Lake, and when they got to the other side, they saw the cannon.

The cannon remained in that location for about 120 years. It was neglected, and no one paid much attention to it after tourists found more convenient ways to get across the Lake. Lt. Tubbs had died, and others owned the little house, and it still exists.

One day, c. 1999, Phil May received a phone call from a woman who lived near the cannon. She reported that the cannon had been wrapped. Phil, who was one of the original organizers of the HSOG, knew little about the cannon, so he made some calls and could find nothing out about the situation. The next day, the woman called back and said, “The cannon is gone. ” Phil suddenly found himself having to deal with a missing cannon.

He decided that this was a “bizarre situation” and that the OGCMA (Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association) needed to get involved because the cannon probably belonged to them, since they owned the land. Dave Shotwell Sr. of the OGCMA agreed that the cannon belonged to them.

For one year Phil “pestered” Dave to get the cannon back, but nothing happened. In the meanwhile, somehow Phil and Dave learned that a neighbor had taken the cannon to his uptown house in Long Branch. “He just took it. It was illegal.” The cannon was held hostage in a garage just a short distance north of the Grove.

There was reason to believe that the cannon was valuable, and the Long Brancher planned to sell it. The identity of that man is currently under wraps.

Phil and Dave also learned that a Civil War museum in Pennsylvania was interested in it, so Phil, who was President of the HSOG, became more worried and more persistent, and finally Dave had enough after the CMA was getting nowhere pursing a law suit for one year.

Dave offered to give the cannon to the HSOG if they took over the fight to get it back. The CMA board agreed, and now, the HSOG, which was a fledgling organization at the time, had the ball in their court.

A lawyer from OG, Bill Jeremiah, agreed to do the legal work pro bono. The struggle to get the cannon back stretched over the next two years. A second lawyer, Mark Blunda, took over. Meanwhile, some State civil war groups were “chewing me out” for not doing enough to regain the cannon. Phil, never a shy person, asked them why they don’t come to the Grove to help, but they never did.

Then, in 2002, just when the cannon was at risk of being sold to a group in California for $50,000-$75,000, the case was scheduled in the Freehold Court House. Phil organized a vocal group of Grovers to create an intimidating presence in court, and that tactic worked, because the Branchers caved in, and we got our cannon back on April 15, 2002.

After that, Phil and his fellow OG historians had the cannon restored and refinished at no cost by metal workers in Neptune (Joe Troppoli Co.  Phil also mentioned Joe Shafto who volunteered to make sure that the cannon was transported home.

Money was raised for the permanent installation, and finally the cannon was paraded through town in the 4th of July Parade in 2002.   The sign said, “The Eagle has landed in Ocean Grove.”  Phil says that it was a “community effort.”


July 4, 2002. Main Avenue, OG. HSOG photo.



The cannon was placed permanently in Founders Park along the edge of Wesley Lake. It was aimed toward Asbury Park, because “that was the only solution that made sense,” according to Phil. He smiled slightly as he said that he takes “full responsibility ” for that decision.

There are two plaques. One tells a bit about the cannon’s early history, while the other names all those who took part in bringing this historic treasure back where it belongs. That same year, Phil May was named “Man of the Year” by a New Jersey Civil War association.


Phil May. Ocean Grove, NJ. September 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Phil May. Ocean Grove, NJ. September 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo ©


Editor’s Note: Phil May has lived in Ocean Grove, on and off, for 50 years. He has been a school teacher, a union official, a hotel owner, a property owner, and the proprietor of an antique shop. But his intimate knowledge of all the important events in the Grove for at least 40 years make him a valuable historical asset.

He has been at the center of the formation of the Chamber of Commerce and the HSOG. He also was witness to many significant changes in town including the opening of the gates in 1979, the town’s deterioration and then its restoration through the ’80’s and 90’s.



TOM GLAZER from his Treasury of Civil War Songs. This is “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground.”


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Ocean Grove: Can we keep it? Paul Goldfinger photograph along the edges of Wesley Lake/Lake Avenue. © Undated  Click to enlarge.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net.  This is a repost from 2017 updated in 2021.

Probably the biggest complaint about the Historic Preservation Commission relates to its inconsistencies.  For example, a Grover couple owns a large Victorian home that they have tried to maintain with great attention to its historic attributes.   It is actually a Victorian showplace.  Up in back of their house there is a staircase ascending to an access at the second floor.  They wanted to put a fairly small deck up there.  It would be barely visible from the street and would improve the couple’s life-style.  But the HPC refused the request on the grounds that such a structure was not historic.

Yet around the Grove there are all sorts of porches and decks that have been added. Just take a walk and you can see them.  If you were a prospective home buyer here, you might look around and think that such decks are historic.

We had one on the second floor, in the rear, of our Centennial Home on Heck Avenue.   If I tried to build that from scratch, it might (or might not) be approved. The HPC is unpredictable.  Another person we know  was given permission to put up a deck just like the rejected couple’s.

Double standards by the HPC  (as with their parental  group, the Township Committee) are toxic to good will and lifestyles in this town.

But if some of you are shocked, shocked that we might have double standards at the HPC, consider this:

And, speaking of astonishing double standards, consider the photo below:

HPC approved this “historic design” on Ocean Avenue in a fairly conspicuous location. Blogfinger photograph. ©

The funny thing about this building is that locals and visitors find it to be amusing.  So, thanks to the HPC, we have a giant conversation piece that is famous not for its Victorian architecture, but as a sort of joke; and the HPC has become the straight man for this humorous offering which does nothing for our town’s reputation and designation as an example of  historic preservation.  And rumor has it that the HPC allowed a historic roof top pool, something Rev. Stokes himself would have been shocked over.

One sport in town is to provide it with ironic nicknames.  For example, one person in the Grove calls it “An Ode to Cement.”   We call it the “Greek Temple.”  Somebody else refers to it as “The Bank.”  What do you call it?

2021 update:  As many of you know, the North End Redevelopment Plan has been tied up in meetings with the HPC. The Township has failed to keep the citizens of Ocean Grove informed as to what’s going on, and the HPC is on mute.

As you know, the HPC only concerns itself with exterior design issues.

We have already seen preliminary drawings of the project, so for many of us, that project should not have been permitted in the first place, and I have no information as to what the HPC is fussing over, but we will probably be left with the same concerns: blocked views,  blocked breezes, crowding, neighborhood congestion, environmental issues, and a significant change in the town’s character, appearance and mood.

It will be Asbury Park South. And the timing, now that the town is changing in a variety of ways, is unfortunate.  This project will slither in silently under the door, while the rest of the town is concerning itself with COVID, many new citizens, many rentals including Airbnb and its problems, a striking sellers real estate market with great demands by buyers, a shortage of affordable rental housing, and rising prices for rentals and buys that have shut many out of the market.  The town needs stores that provide services to those who live in town, and such down-home businesses will not be found at the new North End.


DOOLEY WILSON  from Casablanca   “As time goes by.”

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Founders' Park. Ocean Grove. Silver gelatin print. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Ocean Grove. Silver gelatin print. By Paul Goldfinger ©  2016. This is the Fitzgerald Fountain before it was refurbished in 2019.  Click to enlarge.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger   Re-post from 2016.


The Story of Ocean Grove, 1869-1919 by Morris S Daniels.  Published in 1919 by the Methodist Book Concern in New York City:

“In a little old dingy tent, one of ten erected on the sand drifts of what was later to be known in Ocean Grove as Thompson Park but now called Founders’ Park, there occurred on the night of July 31, 1869 an event of immense significance.

“What happened was not unusual of itself, and the surroundings were not such as to impress one that history was making within the confines of the poor little tent, illumined, as it was, by a few tallow candles; but ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow.'”

Morris Daniels tells us that about 12 people gathered in the tent which belonged to Mrs. Joseph Thornley.  They all had arrived the day before and pitched their tents there.  There were no chairs, so they all sat on rough pine boards.

Daniels says, “The night was dark, save for the stars which twinkled brightly from overhead, while the few candles within cast a weird shadow upon the scene.

“Some had come directly from their own tents while others had preferred to wander over the yielding sands to the edge of the dune overlooking the sea to watch the moon rise from her briny bed.

“But shortly after nine o’clock all had gathered in the little dimly lighted tent for Ocean Grove’s  first religious service—–a prayer meeting.”


WARREN VACHE´    “Stardust”

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Julia West Howard

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger   Re-post from 2011 on Blogfinger.net

It was June, 2008, and  there was a knock on our front door. A young woman named Cathy Midkiff  was standing on the porch.  She said that she was visiting Ocean Grove from Maryland and wanted to see the house that had  a special meaning for her.  We invited her in. She looked about curiously and then proceeded to tell us her story.

Cathy had recently inherited a piece of furniture—an armoire. It seems that a celebrity named Julia West Howard had lived in our house at 113 Mt. Hermon Way from 1938 until her death in 1947.  Cathy’s aunt, a friend of Ms. Howard, had acquired the armoire  from the Howard estate.

The aunt, Wilma Bodine of Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park, had owned a funeral home there and that’s where the armoire remained until Cathy acquired it.  The armoire is a carved walnut piece that was appraised as being from the 1930’s, so probably Julia had purchased it new to furnish her OG house.

Cathy left us copies of photographs and some news clippings.  We were intrigued, because the Asbury Park Press, in 1947, had printed a photo of the house, and the caption said, “Home of Famous Actress Sold—Julia West Howard, whose picture was emblazoned on billboards, posters, and in newspapers from Broadway to San Francisco more than 46 years ago, spent the last years of her retirement in this home at 113 Mt. Hermon Way, Ocean Grove, which has just been sold by the estate to William and Nellie Major.  Before her death, Miss Howard completely remodeled the property.”

The photos of Julia West Howard were wonderful—showing a stylish and coquettish woman with her hair up, as was the way in the early 20th century.

An obituary in the Ocean Grove Times, dated August 29, 1947, said that Julia West Howard had been born in Germany and resided in New York City before moving to OG  in 1938. She had been married to Frank Howard and was survived by her sister W.H. Osborne of Ocean Grove. Her funeral service was at the Bodine Funeral Home.

The photograph of the house showed striped awnings, coincidentally just like the ones we installed 5 years ago.  We also were able to verify the appearance of the columns, the gull wing roof and the balustrades. There were trees and shrubs around the dwelling.  If only the house could talk.


MUSIC: Imagining Julia West Howard   (Maude Maggart Sings Irving Berlin)



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1891 The South End fishing pier. Source: "Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards" by Bell and Flynn

Source: “Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards” by Bell and Flynn. With permission by Mr. W. Ted Bell of OG. Click image for full view

By Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger   (Re-posted from May, 2013 on BF–Part 2 to follow)

The year is 1890.  Ocean Grove is 21 years old, and the Rev. Elwood Stokes has a public health concern–how to deal with sewage so as to avoid infectious diseases in the campground.  He writes about the subject in his annual reports, and that year he decides that their primitive sewer pipe system, where the mess is pumped into the ocean, needs to be improved.  So he extends the pipeline out about 500 feet from shore and he builds a wooden pier opposite Embury Avenue to provide protection for  the pipe.

A few years later, a better sewer system is devised, and the pier becomes a fishing pier with the Fishing Club receiving a multi-year lease and  taking up 97 feet at the end.    The 500 foot pier is destined to become a historic landmark in a historic Jersey Shore town.

Some years after that, when the North End is developed into a major recreational compound, a second pier, attached to the North End Hotel Pavilion, is built to attract strollers, fishermen  and boats.  Eventually it gets wiped out in a huge hurricane in 1938. During that viscious storm,  the south end of Ocean Grove winds up underwater after 5 days of heavy rain. The Embury Avenue pier is also badly damaged.

North End pier. From Bell and Flynn: Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards

Source: Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards by Bell and Flynn.

Big storms knock out the pier and boardwalk on multiple occasions over the years including 1922, 1927, 1938, 1953, and a huge nor’easter in December 1992.   The latter storm causes the Delaware River to back up and 4 counties along the shore to be clobbered.  There are 90 mph winds in Atlantic City.

My old friend Nick Maat, a member of the Fishing Club, from 14 Heck Avenue, witnesses the pier clubhouse being carried away by a massive wave while he stands on Ocean Avenue soaking wet and jaw agape. The Asbury Park Press interviews him, and Nick gets his 15 minutes of fame.  The pier is lost except for a small piece at the end where Ralph, the dummy fisherman, sits all by himself.  (If he only had a brain.)

A book is written about the pier, Ralph, and the storm of 1992  by Carol Egner of Ocean Grove. It is called The True Story of Ralph–the Ocean Grove Fisherman.

In 1994, the pier is rebuilt, financed by a  $144,000.00 small business loan obtained by the Fishing Club.

In 2000, a beach replenishment project causes the fishing pier to be landlocked after the water’s edge was moved eastward by 100 feet.  The pier is 338 feet at that point, and a  construction project adds another 144 feet to get the pier to its original 500 feet and over the water once again.  The $150,000 project is financed by Monmouth County, the State, the OGCMA, the Fishing Club, and Neptune Township.

Landlocked fishing pier. Asbury Park Press photo.

Landlocked fishing pier. c 2000.  Asbury Park Press photo.

In August, 2011,  Hurricane Irene causes damage to the pier. Some emergency repairs are done, but the pier is unsafe at its far end. The CMA fixes a few damaged parts of the  boardwalk.  FEMA declines to pay for repairs.

Then Sandy hits on October 29, 2012 and causes considerable destruction including the demolition of most of the pier. The clubhouse is swept out to sea in addition to all but a short section of the pier still attached to the boardwalk.

Finally, now, in 2013, a 165  foot piece of the pier will be repaired by the COGMA  to allow the public to walk out a short distance—-over the sand.  Engineers say that it is safe.

The OGCMA promises to rebuild the “non-fishing pier ” in its entirety, but that will come in the future.  Mr. William Bailey of the CMA says that the small initial section will give people hope regarding the rest of the project.  However, in a detailed press release dated April 30, the CMA did not mention the pier.

The  OG Fishing Club has a long lease, but its future has been put on hold for now.  The old-boys club (with a few old -girls)  is missing its hangout.  What’s to be done?   Maybe they should have their meetings at Old Navy.

One thing  is clear:  Both the pier and the club are woven into the fabric of Ocean Grove history, and respect must be paid.

In Part II, we will discuss the situation with officials of the  fishing club and the Camp Meeting Association.

NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND:  Fishin’ in the Dark    (something to look forward to)

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Swimwear from Victorians’ Secrets. Re-posted from November, 2012.


By Paul Goldfinger, history editor @Blogfinger


In 1869, the Founding Fathers founded Ocean Grove in Larry’s Park (later, the name was changed to Founders’ Park.) Soon thereafter, many visitors came to this popular resort. Some people wanted to live here, but sleeping in tents began to wear thin, so a building boom began, and along with that came realtors in 1872.

They opened an office on Main Avenue and called it Century 19. Many of the realtors were young ladies who wore billowing dresses with hoops and crinolines that made them extra wide. It was fun watching 2 or 3 of them squeeze inside a tent. They drove their clients around in shiny buggies that said “20% down” on the back.

The sales pitch for selling houses here must have been a challenge because of all the limitations: no horses in town on Sunday, no alcoholic drinks, no tossing pie pans on Sunday, no carousing on Saturday night, and no hanky panky.

Well, that last one was quickly tossed out due to overwhelming opposition by the folks in the choir, especially the basses and the sopranos. Besides, Grovers did need something else to do on Sunday.

Another reason why there was no “blue law” for sex was that a baby was conceived in the tent colony,  and that is where the term “Founding Father” was born.

One of the problems was that Rev. Stokes had organized a lot sale. People came from New York City and Philadelphia to buy land in this unique town. Then, somehow, it turned out that they had purchased a lease. “What the heck avenue,” they complained.

But even today, no one knows why their house is sitting on somebody else’s land. Luckily, lawyers followed the realtors into town and they made it all official.

It should be noted that you couldn’t go to Asbury Park for fun back then, because it was a sedate place having just been founded in 1871. The Asburians tried to emulate the example of Ocean Grove, but good luck with that idea.

Watch for our next installment of “OG Historical Snapshots” when we will tell the story of Jewish Grovers and how they introduced bagels with cream cheese to God’s Square Mile.


And here is Dinah Washington, who knows what to do on Sunday:


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Vest pocket park with antique urn near Mt. Carmel Way in the OG mountains. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

Vest pocket park with antique urn near Mt. Carmel Way in the OG mountains. November, 2014.   Paul Goldfinger photo ©.  Click to enlarge.


Beverly Kenney

Beverly Kenney

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