Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history’ Category

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


Since Christmas is such a happy holiday, we decided to re-post this article from August, 2018, in Ocean Grove.  Ultimately, for those of us who live here, the main focus becomes our homes and life-styles in this historic town.

Here is a story of a Heck Avenue family showing off the home of their dreams.–Paul  @Blogfinger.net


Four years ago (2014), Joy and Mike Adase found their OG home on Heck Avenue.  They sold their 5 bedroom house in Howell, downsized their stuff, and moved into a historic  (1885)  two-story, 2 bedroom,  1200 square foot Ocean Grove cottage at #97  What-the-Heck Avenue.

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

New Grover in town. What the Heck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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Version 2

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

This article from 2017 is being re-posted because it not only addresses the issue of placing a drug rehab center in the Grove, but it also is about the risks of forgetting our historic designations and about the importance of vigilance by the citizens of OG.

The agreement between the owner of the Laingdon Hotel on Ocean Avenue and the Sprout Health Co. was evidently decided upon last summer.  The plan was to open a drug rehabilitation facility in that historic hotel after getting a use-variance from the Neptune Board of Adjustment. Essential to those best laid plans was the need  to close the hotel to the public and to use it to house addicted individuals who would stay there for up to 30 days while undergoing treatment at the Sprout clinic in Eatontown.

Most Grovers who weighed in on Blogfinger were opposed for a variety of reasons. An intelligent discussion ensued, and there were no personal attacks–just identification of the issues.   No one disparaged those unfortunate patients who would have been candidates to stay in the OG facility. No one got to attack the owner for wanting to make a profit on his investment or the company whose business is to help others.

It’s just that the people of Ocean Grove did not believe that such a project would be suitable in our town for a variety of well considered reasons.

This was not a blind case of “not in our backyard.”  Not every town is appropriate for setting up shelters for the unfortunate.   I doubt you would find a drug rehab facility in Colonial Williamsburg, but that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t be located in a town nearby.      The citizens of  Ocean Grove would likely  be supportive of such a project in a neighboring town where the fit would be more sensible.

Importantly, the discussion of the Laingdon did allow the consideration of a bigger picture:    Ocean Grove is vulnerable to the conversion of historic buildings into uses that do not fit our Master Plan or the designation of our town on the National and State Historic Registers.  It’s work to keep those designations, and  “if you don’t use it, you will lose it.”  If the Laingdon idea had been implemented, then a dangerous precedent would have given permission to approve all sorts of decidedly non-historic projects that would change our town forever.  Now perhaps such projects would be discouraged.

The Laingdon opposition is only one piece of a town-wide effort which will be required to avoid more condominiums and commercialization while pushing for continued development as a single family residential/historic community.

There is a need for a group of citizens to dedicate themselves to be watchdogs on behalf of the town of Ocean Grove.  It will require standing up to Neptune Township politicians, developers, and to the derelict  HOA to beat back the anti- RSIS crowd.

Vigilance is the key word in the future,  because other mice and men with big plans will try to nibble away at this very special town, turning it into Asbury Park south or Bradley-Beach-By-the Sea.  Even Sprout might show up again with a renewed application.

Just because the Laingdon plan has caved, doesn’t mean that we should not keep watching and discussing how to protect the Grove.  After all, it all depends on you.

FRANK SINATRA from The Columbia Years.

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Tourism of the historical kind---the kind to be encouraged in our historic town. Paul Goldfinger photo @ Blogfinger .net.

Tourism of the historical kind—the kind to be encouraged in our 19th century historic town. Paul Goldfinger photo @ Blogfinger.net.


HUGH JACKMAN.  “Don’t throw your past away; you might need it some rainy day.”    From The Boy From Oz:

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Postcard. Gates were opened permanently in 1980.

Postcard. Gates were opened permanently in 1980.

This sign hangs in the Historical Society museum on Pitman Ave.

This sign hangs in the Historical Society museum on Pitman Ave.  Blogfinger photo.

A ruling by the NJ Supreme Court in 1979 declared this and other blue laws to be unconstitutional as administered by the Camp Meeting Association.  The official governance turnover to Neptune Township took place in 1980 after the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

As you can see, the “gates” were not actually gates.   There was a chain.  The police officer was an Ocean Grove policeman.  Now you can even get a bus in OG  on Sunday into New York City.



Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger.   (this post is from 2014, but history is always timely, and the comments with this post are very stimulating.)   If you have any comments now, please send them by email or by using the comments button below.

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Windows at the top reaches of the Tabernacle. All photos by Paul Goldfinger ©

Windows at the top reaches of the Tabernacle. All photos by Paul Goldfinger © Click on all photographs to enlarge them.

By Paul Goldfinger MD, Editor @Blogfinger.net   Re-posted from June, 2014.

The Bishop Janes Tabernacle is the oldest permanent structure in Ocean Grove, build in 1877.  It is an airy, open building consisting basically of one room and  a center section on top where  a sweep of windows allows light to stream in from above  and illuminate the seating below–symbolic perhaps, or very practical, or both.

Light and breezes come inside. ©

Light and breezes come inside. ©

Ted Bell, Ocean Grove historian and author, showed us the 19th century ventilation system which keeps the place cool.  Downstairs there is a ring of large doors and windows.   The latter open in a curious way, but there is a purpose to the design. The window aims the warm breezes upward where they can stream through the top  row of windows.

Ted Bell shows how the lower level windows open. ©

Ted Bell shows how the lower level windows open. ©

Outside, the light trickles and flows through the trees to hit the Tabernacle and creates moving patterns on its outside walls and illumination for the prayer books inside.

outside one


BACH:  Double concerto in D minor for 2 violins and strings.  With Yehudi Menuhin, Alberto Lysy, and Camerata Lysy Gstaad.


—- Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

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Ted Bell giving a historic tour in Ocean Grove. Here he demonstrates the size of a finial. Paul Goldfinger photo


Ted Bell, an author, a naturalist, and an Ocean Grove historian died this past week.   An obituary can be found in the Coaster.  Ted will be missed in the Grove.

At Blogfinger we will especially remember his willingness to help us with authoritative information about OG history.  And, at a personal level, we will miss his wonderfully  good-natured sense of humor.

Most recently Ted left his mark by championing the restoration of the historic Fitzgerald Fountain in Founders Park. Many of us saw him there for the dedication.


Here is a link to a Blogfinger article about a Ted Tour from 2015:

Link to Ted talk.


PAUL ROBESON  once performed in the Great Auditorium.  Here is a tribute to Ted: a re-post of our 2016 article about Paul Robeson in the Great Auditorium and a recording of one of the great spirituals that he was famous for.

Paul Robeson in the Great Auditorium



—-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

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Civil War re-enactment near Founders Park. Nov. 2003. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  click on all these photos to enlarge them.


Founders’ Park. Paul Goldfinger photo 2003.


OG reenactment on the beach. of the Ft. Wagner battle.  2003. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©


They used to have wonderful Civil War reenactments in the Grove. The camp set-ups would be at the Ocean Pathway, but they would have African-American soldiers replay the “Glory” battle on the beach.  That battle was about the all black 54th Massachusetts Regiment who heroically attacked the  Confederate Army holed up at Ft. Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. The movie “Glory” was about that.

“Glory” battle:



JACQUELINE SCHWAB  “Battle Cry of  Freedom.”




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“This public property……”   Read the bottom sign!  Blogfinger photo at Fireman’s Park. August 2018. Today is a re-post from one year ago because of our discovery of the fountain photograph shown below.


So why is this “public property” locked in the center and surrounded by iron spikes and brambles with sharp needles?  Where are the barbed wire and the guard dogs?  The symbolism is horrible.


By Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor@Blogfinger.net

This park is historic. It used to be Woodlawn Park.  There were stables nearby, and folks could walk through while watching horse drawn carriages roll by.

And then it was Alday Park, dedicated to Dr. John Alday in 1915, an important CMA figure at the time of Stokes, who lived across the street, and there was a beautiful bronze fountain placed  there in his honor. It was to be the first important site seen by visitors after coming through the “gates.”

The fountain was not locked in—-anyone could go up to the fountain and dunk their hands or feet into the cool water.  The water was said to be “clear and pure.”

Whatever happened to that fountain and why was it never restored as has occurred this year in Founders’ Park?  Wasn’t historic preservation important during that early phase of  CMA history?

John H. Alday, MD. Memorial Fountain erected in 1915 in Woodlawn Park (now Fireman’s Park)    This photograph  is from the earliest history book of Ocean Grove  (1869-1919.)*  The photo was taken between 1915-1919.


In 1959  it became Firemen’s Park.  Why was a public park shut down in the center?   Why has it become less public than before?

The result is a barricaded bell in honor of deceased firemen.  But why is the center closed to the public?  There are benches inside. Why can’t the public sit down there?  Is it not “public property?”  Why can’t the kids come in, run around, and touch the bell?  Why are those dangerous shrubs and iron spikes allowed to remain?   Is this the North End version of the private place that used to be  at the end of the pier?

BF article about this subject June, 2018

This is not a criticism of firemen, whose heroism and sacrifice in this town has saved lives and property; it is about the unfair misuse of a public park.

The Township Committee should reevaluate the dedication to firemen.  After all, the park is poorly kept.  Go check out the miserable plantings, the uncared-for trees and the toxic “grass.”  Give the park back to the people and appoint a citizen’s commission to take care of it and put it to better use.   How about this  park being  dedicated to all of America’s heroes, including firemen, and have events there such as poetry readings, art shows, military bands, small concerts, picnics for kids, nighttime gatherings in the summer, Wiffle ball tournaments, and dog shows—for example.

This park is on the new Christian Walking Tour of Ocean Grove.  What will those walkers think about the entombed bell in the middle?

Why are the Grovarian park names so confusing?  Here is a link:

OG Park Names


ELLA FITZGERALD:   by Cole Porter:

*Story of Ocean Grove…1869-1919 by Morris D. Daniels

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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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Walt Whitman from about 1869.  Photo from the Library of Congress.


By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger.net

Walt Whitman  (born 5/31/1919 in New York and died in Camden NJ  3/26/1992)  was considered to be “America’s Poet” by Ezra Pound.  He has had the most influence over American “free verse” along with Emily Dickinson.  His most famous work is Leaves of Grass.

According to an expert source, Whitman loved the ocean:

The sea, perhaps Whitman’s favorite metaphor, is mentioned over and over in all phases of his work, starting with the 1855 ‘Song of Myself’:

“You sea! I resign myself to you also / I am integral with you . . . I too am of one phase and of all phases.”

From a piece in the New Yorker:   A quote from the writer and friend John Burroughs, “There is sea-salt in Whitman’s poetry, strongly realistic epithets and phrases, that had their birth upon the shore, and that perpetually recur to one as he saunters on the beach,” and that “No phase of nature seems to have impressed him so deeply as the sea, or recurs so often in his poems.” Burroughs even thought that his friend had “a look about him . . . of the gray, eternal sea that he so loved, near which he was born, and that had surely set its seal upon him.”

And here is another Whitman line, referring to the sea:  “proud music of the sea storm”  (don’t know the source)

In late September, early October, 1883,  Whitman checked into the Sheldon House in Ocean Grove with a colleague, naturalist John Borroughs, and they spent one or two weeks there. *

The Sheldon was one of Ocean Grove’s finest hotels with 300 rooms.  It had views of Wesley Lake, the Ocean,  and Founders’ Park.


The Sheldon House. Ocean Grove, NJ. Internet photo.

The landmark hotel was built in 1875 by Welcome Sheldon who turned it into the largest, most elegant, and best situated in the Grove.  It was near the ocean at Central Ave. and Atlantic Ave.

From OG writer Perdita Buchan:  By 1879, Ocean Grove had a newspaper, a post office, and two general stores, while the Sheldon House promised speaking tubes from bedroom to office, gas in all rooms, an elevator, and a “monster safe for the storage of valuables.”

While he was at the Sheldon House, Whitman began work on a new poem called “By Thine Own Lips, O Sea.”     A copy of his earliest draft was written on Sheldon House stationery.  Eventually the poem was completed and then published in Harpers Magazine in 1884 with the name of  “With Husky-Haughty Lips, O Sea.”

final poem

Here is a reference card from the Whitman Archives:


The first draft of the poem is written on the back of this page:

Sheldon stationery.  From the Walt Whitman Archive


Whitman’s first draft written in Ocean Grove

This poem contained these lines:

“day and night I wander on the beach….”


“With undertone of muffled lion roar

And skreel of whistling wind,

and hiss of spray,

tale of elemental passion,

confided to me”


It was suspected that Whitman was a homosexual.  But, those two men checking into the Sheldon did not create a furor because they were collaborating on a book, and Burroughs was well known as a confirmed heterosexual.

We * learned of Whitman’s visit from an anonymous Blogfinger fan who sent us the information from the Whitman Archives. Other papers of Whitman can be found in the Library of Congress, the University of North California,  and Yale University.

In 1912  the new owner,  impressed with the building’s location across from Founders Park, and with a great view of the FitzGerald Fountain  (1907), changed the name to the Fountain House;  so this does tell us the earliest name for Ocean Grove’s newly restored  fountain. (2019)

In February, 1918, that grand hotel burned down to its brick foundation along with a number of other structures in the neighborhood including the Surf Avenue Hotel.

In the 1990’s, Kevin Chambers organized a Whitman Festival in Ocean Grove which became the largest and best known poetry festival in America. Unfortunately it was not renewed after 4 years.


GORDON TURK  from a recording made in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove.  “Sortie in Eb Major”

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