Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove history’ Category

F.W. Beers map dated 1873, 4 years after OG founding. From the Blogfinger archives.

F.W. Beers map dated 1873, 4 years after OG founding. From the Blogfinger.net  archives. Click to enlarge. Scanned from the original map.


By Paul Goldfinger, MD.   Editor, Blogfinger.net


This F.W. Beer’s map segment is dated 1873.  It is from an atlas of Monmouth County and it covers parts of  Ocean and Shrewsbury Townships. The scale is 160 rods to the inch.  How many of you are interested in the history and geography of this area?  Let’s all send in comments based on your observations of this map or related bits of history that you know..  Please keep it brief, and we can form a sort of mosaic of information to go with the map.

Here is a useful tool:  Click on the image, and the map gets a bit bigger.  But then, run your cursor over the map and you will see a plus sign.  Put that over an area of interest and click again. —P.G.

HISTORICAL COMMITTEE FINDINGS:   (send your observations by commenting below or email to blogfinger@verizon.net and we will add your opinion to the list below.)

1.  Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger:     In 1873, Ocean Grove was part of Ocean Township.  Note that there is no Avon, Bradley Beach, Spring Lake or Neptune.  Deal Lake is called Boyleston Great Pond, and there is no Allenhurst.  Instead, north of Boyleston Pond, there is the Allen House owned by A. Allen.

2. Lee Morgan:     Paul, Just to the south of Greens Pond, around where Deal or Long Branch would be today, is a reference to US Grant.   Did he live or vacation at that spot??Lee 

3.   BeZee:      Well, look at Wesley Lake! Washed by the ocean, fed by a freshwater stream that ran all the way out to Whitesville, (later called Wesley Brook). People actually used to drink the water. Nice while it lasted. But the ocean outlet was plugged by the CMA early on to provide a reliable source of aquatic recreation. Then the area surrounding the brook became populated by a “careless population” that used it to dispose of all sorts of crap (literally). Which created a “disgusting” situation that the town fathers thought to address by means of a “catch basin” at the head of the Lake. Not sure that ever happened. But a constant source of complaints in the OG Annual Reports 1900-1910 or so. So when there are complaints about the condition of the Lake now, just know that it used to be worse…

4.  Paul @Blogfinger:  Lee. I know that a number of US Presidents did visit Long Branch.  They have the 7 Presidents Park there today, and one of those 7 who visited there was Grant.    Grant also visited Ocean Grove. He parked his horse outside the gates and walked over to drink tea at a woman’s house on Wesley Lake. She supposedly was his sister.

5. NJ Commenter:      To Lee Morgan: US Grant owned a cottage at 995 Ocean Ave in the Elberon section of Long Branch.   It was the summer White House from 1869 to 1876. The cottage was demolished in 1963;  it stood on the property now adjacent to the Stella Maris Retreat House. There are several photos available online with President and Mrs. Grant relaxing on their porch with family and friends.

6. Focused:   The only significant interesting thing about this map is the center of Ocean Grove where a huge pile of earth that has never been dealt with still divides a number of east and west running streets in the Grove. So those streets ended up having different names depending on which side of this pile of earth you lived on.

7. Paul @Blogfinger:     Notice the unnamed north-south roadway to the immediate west of OG. Undoubtedly that became Rt. 71 later. The houses out there belonged to pre-existing families having nothing to do with the Camp Meeting, including names like White, Bennet, Youman. The Bennet name is all over that area. Some of those families probably sold land to the OGCMA as they bought up quite a few small properties  in 1869 to stitch together the town of Ocean Grove.

Note the lumber yard and the toll house (maybe where the cookies were first baked.),

Also, at the north end of Asbury Park is a lake (probably Sunset Lake) with a road running west to Wegmans featuring Mallomars on sale every September—not shown on this map.

8  Wisher: It is interesting how Whitesville disappeared, when it was so prominent on the map. Every time I drive down Neptune Avenue and pass that forest area to the right next to Shop Rite, I wonder what artifacts might be there. I think the town may have stretched from The Shop Rite area to the circle/roundabout on 35.


Please keep the history comments coming in. The music will post below


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1881 Fishing Pier in OG, Embury Avenue. Submitted by Rich Amole, BF staff.

Photo:  1881 Fishing Pier in Ocean Grove. Submitted by Rich Amole, BF staff.


By Rich Amole— Blogfinger historian and reporter

The photo above shows the original pier built off  Embury ave. in 1881.

Back then the sewer line went out to the shoreline and the pier was built to protect it.  Next thing you know someone wants to fish out on it so a charge of 5 cents is collected.   Strippers were far and few between and it turned out to be a bad year for fishing as they made only $650 in the July to September season.  Of course those folks just wishing to take a stroll down the pier had a nice unobstructed view of the Atlantic and there is something to be said about this simple pleasure.

Editor’s note:    Rich, you can be darned sure that “strippers were far and few between”   in the 1881 religious community of Ocean Grove.    But stripers are another story—— a fine kettle of fish.  —-PG

ps. What’s going on?—just today we had “pubic pier” sent to BF and corrected by our man in Havana  I.M. Radar.







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Days 1880.

Source unknown. Days 1880. Submitted by Rosemary Salow.

Source unknown. Days 1880. Submitted by Rosemary Salow. “Oh waiter, I ordered the mocha latte cappuccino chocolate crunch with whipped cream!”



BETTE MIDLER  (my cousin)   “Bei mir bist du schon”


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By Kathy Arlt, contributing writer @ Blogfinger    (Re-posted from its original date of June, 2011.   Play it again, Sam.  And that’s a fine kettle of fish.)

Victorians were big believers in the curative effects of fresh air and ocean bathing, but a day at the beach was a lot different for them than it is for us. For one thing, there were those bathing suits…made out of wool—WOOL!—and covering the body from head to toe. Just imagine hitting the beach on a 90-degree day in one of these suits. Maybe that’s why no one in this group looks too happy:

Or maybe they’re wondering how many other people may have worn the suit that’s now covering their body, because it was common in the 1870’s to rent bathing suits.

And what did the Victorians do when they got to the beach in their rented woolen bathing suits? Well, they didn’t swim—very few people knew how to swim back then, even if they could maneuver through the ocean currents in a woolen bathing suit—and they certainly didn’t surf. They clung to ropes in order to obtain the ocean’s benefits, as this illustration shows:  (from Woolman and Rose,  “Atlas of the Jersey Coast 1878,”  Ross Bathing Houses,  Joseph Ross, proprietor, Ocean Grove, NJ)

From the show DAMES AT SEA:

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Bookstore at the Ross Pavilion, North End, Boardwalk. Ocean Grove, New Jersey 1907. Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger historian and reporter.

Bookstore at the Ross Pavilion, North End, Boardwalk. Ocean Grove, New Jersey 1907. Submitted by Rich Amole, Blogfinger historian and reporter. Click to enlarge.

Hi Paul:

This wonderful image at the northern end of Ocean Grove is from a post card taken at the Ross Pavilion in 1907 showing a number of ladies gathered in front of the bookstore in their Victorian Dresses.  Close inspection of the reading material shows a few shelves with hard back covers, and perhaps the shop owner, noticeable on the left side of the scene, peers out over pamphlets and other soft covered reading material with prices ranging from two indian head pennies to one Morgan Dollar and change.

In addition to a few shops there was a pavilion that would assist residents and visitors with their bathing needs and access to the beach.  There also was an open air auditorium with a bandstand for live music.


Source:  Ebay.  2014.

Back in 1907, here’s a Springsteen song , “Old Dan Tucker,” which they may have played over at  the Ross Pavilion.


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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 1985, 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.”

Followup the next year.  (1921). The CMA retracted its support for the Borough of OG, and then, a few court battles later, the Borough of Ocean Grove Act was found to be unconstitutional, and governance was returned to the CMA.



In 1985 there was another battle looking to secede, but it was defeated.  Frank Pallone (our congressman then and now) tried to help the Grovers who were in the fight.



FRANK SINATRA    “My Kind of Town.”






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osborn cottage

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor@Blogfinger.net  Posted 2015. Re-post now.

The first cottage built in Ocean Grove was called “Pioneer Cottage.”  A gentleman from Warsaw, New York built it on Asbury Avenue in 1870.  You can still see it at 64 Asbury Avenue.   It is quite large now.  The size of early cottages was influenced  by the standard small lot size of 30′ x 60.’  Also, many cottages were created at the site of prior tents.

Around 1900, Mrs. W.B. Osborn, an author and wife of the OG founder wrote a book called Pioneer Days of Ocean Grove.  In it she relates how Pres. Stokes decided  to present a “cottage” to Rev. W.B. Osborn “as a testimonial of esteem and in further consideration for labors rendered.”  A “handsome  cottage” was built for Osborn at a cost of over $3,000.00.  The money was raised outside of CMA funds, and “the whole scheme was carried to completion by the perseverance of the wife of the Rev. John S. Inskip alone.”

The presentation was made at a gala event on July 15, 1873. Osborn was evidently a sort of snowbird, because they had to wait for him to return from Florida.

Of course many cottages were constructed after that, and over the years, a considerable number were changed and enlarged. Today,  OG cottages can still be found all over town, and despite their size, they remain highly desirable to this day.


This sign is on the median of Broadway. June 10, 2015. Blogfinger photo ©

This sign is on the median of Broadway. June 10, 2015. Blogfinger photo ©


This wonderful cottage was photographed on June 10, 2015 on Broadway. It is not for sale. By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net ©

This wonderful, happy cottage was photographed on June 10, 2015 on Broadway. Definitely not for sale. By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net ©


DINAH WASHINGTON  tells us that a house isn’t necessarily a home. Sometimes a derelict house has a story to tell, and we need to think about them that way.



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Centennial Cottage

Centennial Cottage “abuzz with ladders” by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. June 3, 2015. ©  Be careful Patrick—the bucket’s got a hole in it.


Centennial Cottage is maintained as a historical museum by the Historical Society of Ocean Grove. It is at Central Avenue and McClintock Street. Tours are given in-season; just contact the HSOG.

The cottage was built in 1874 and is of the “carpenter’s gothic style.”  It was donated to the OGCMA by the Robert Skold family.

A Victorian garden adjoins the cottage.


Credit:  All the information above is courtesy of Wayne T. Bell of Ocean Grove.  He is the author of Images of America: Ocean Grove, published in 2000.




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Intricate use of multiple colors can be difficult. Click to enlarge.


Home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Ocean Grove , just painted,  used new historic red and bright yellow from Benjamin Moore.   Blogfinger photo ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @blogfinger

Major paint manufacturers offer color charts that are called “historic Victorian.”  The HPC in Ocean Grove seems to pay heed mostly to the Benjamin Moore company. Choices from the historic charts of other companies might get rejected at the HPC. Perhaps you have wondered about the purple house as you enter the Grove.   That was an approved color, but evidently the HPC later said that it was a mistake.

Those of you who have wrestled with color decisions for your OG home know that there are a wide array of choices, but perhaps you don’t know that the paint companies are always adding new colors.

A lot of the paint company decisions are based on archeological information. The chemical makeup of historic home colors used in the 19th century  resulted in a limited choice, but now you can get many approved colors available in latex paints.

Some homeowners use 14 or more different colors. Of course that sort of paint job can be expensive.

Delicate painting of decorative trim requires a steady hand and a bucket loader. 113 Mt. Hermon Way. Blogfinger photo .  Joan  Corbo painter. Click to enlarge.


Some people think of the San Francisco “painted ladies” when they think of Victorian colors, but, as Ocean Grove designer J. Cortese has said, the “new  look” are darker hues. And we have learned that the “painted ladies”  pastels would not be approved in the Grove.

33 Main Avenue design by J. Cortese. Blogfinger photo ©


The quote below is from a 2015 Blogfinger post.

“This purple house (above) is at 33 Main Avenue.   Some people love the colors while others hate them.  We spoke to J. Cortese about this restoration project which he designed, color consulted and construction managed. J. uses historic colors, but he also enjoys the unexpected, changing over recently to darker “rich” colors in the Grove.  He says that all his colors are approved and chosen from historic color charts. He thinks that darker colors are “more historic.” 

Yellow seems to be more popular recently.  Some of you are familial with the spectacular restoration at the Founders Park end of Seaview Avenue  (26 Lake Avenue, a yellow Bersheeba Award winner).  Link below:

BF post on spectacular yellow home

And then there are colors which most people in town don’t like, but either they were done that way without permission, or the HPC made a mistake. Do you think that the Mary’s’ Place blue color  (see below) ought to be considered historic?  Is a blue roof historic?  Does the HPC practice favoritism?

And do you recall the orange house on Mt. Hermon Way?  That owner went ahead with it even though that orange is not historic. The owner argued that 19th century homeowners were allowed to pick any colors they wanted —–the palette was very limited;—-all the colors then were dreary. So the orange house owner said that our modern choices should also be whatever we want. And, she argued, that the  orange house would make her happy, so how about the “pursuit of happiness” promised  in our Declaration of Independence–definitely some colorful patriotic reasoning.


Mary’s Place. 12/15.   Main Avenue Ocean Grove. Blogfinger photo. Is the blue roof OK? The other blue on the siding  looks darker now.  Blogfinger photo 12/15. ©


KEITH URBAN with a song about the color blue—“Blue Ain’t Your Color”  (This song was nominated for two 2017 Grammy awards.)




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Photograph from “Pioneer Days of Ocean Grove” by Mrs. W.B. Osborn


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @ Blogfinger.   (First posted on BF in 2010)

Several weeks ago we received a flyer about an event sponsored by the Old Corlies Preservation Association (OCPA). It seemed innocuous enough when we posted it, until we read to the bottom where it said, “Hamilton—the birthplace of Neptune and Ocean Grove.”  Hamilton is the site of an early settlement near Old Corlies Road. Its earliest name was Shark River Village, then Greenville, and then it was called Hamilton in 1875, after the founding of OG.  There was a church there, but it burned down in 1940 along with all its historic records.

Their claim was surprising, because it didn’t agree with the usual narrative of Ocean Grove’s founding.  We contacted the OCPA and received an unsigned email linking to a YouTube video. Their claim is based on the assertion that Ocean Grove’s founding father Reverend William B. Osborn, was working for the Hamilton church when he went off to start the community of OG.  This seemed like a pretty flimsy linkage, so we hit the history books.

According to our references, Rev. Osborn promoted the camp meeting concept with the support of the Methodist Conference in New Jersey, and it was his energy, commitment, and enthusiasm which resulted eventually in the founding of Ocean Grove.  The idea was first presented in 1867 at a national camp meeting conference in Vineland, and the group appointed Rev. Osborn as their official agent to find a suitable site in New Jersey. After an extensive search up and down the Jersey coast, the site now known as Ocean Grove was chosen by Osborn in 1868. Rev. Osborn named the town and he recruited a group of supporters from places like Farmingdale, Philadelphia and Long Branch.

A group of them set up tents in the summer of 1869 and had the first prayer meeting on July 31, 1869, among the bushes, trees, briars, and dunes at a location now known as Founders’ Park.  In December 1869, the founders met in Trenton and set up the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. Rev Osborn was named as the first superintendent in Ocean Grove and he was also assigned a part time job  to help support his family, performing Sunday services at the church in Greenville (later known as the Hamilton Methodist Church).

Our historical sources give Rev. Osborn credit for the founding of Ocean Grove, but Mr. Ted Bell, Ocean Grove historian, tells us that more research will be necessary before we can come to a definite conclusion about the Hamilton claim. In any case, it seems clear that the claim should be formally evaluated by the Historical Society of Ocean Grove  and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association,  in order to set the record straight.

Editor’s note:  Subsequently, the OCPA gave up its paternity claim regarding Hamilton as the “birthplace” of Ocean Grove.   PG, editor.



1. History of Neptune Township. “Four Score and Five”. 1964

2. History of Ocean Grove. Gibbons. 1944

3. History of Monmouth County, 1964

4. “Pioneer Days of Ocean Grove.” Mrs. W.B. Osborn   c1910. This book was written by Rev. Osborn’s wife, but her first name is not given in the book.

5. “Footprints in My Own Life.”  An autobiography by E.H. Stokes, 1898.

6. Mr. Ted Bell, historian.  Historical Society of Ocean Grove.

7. Mrs. Marion Bauman, director of the Neptune Township Public Library

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