Posts Tagged ‘Elwood H Stokes in Ocean Grove’

By Rich Amole, Blogfinger staff. October 23, 2016. ©

By Rich Amole, Blogfinger staff. October 23, 2016. ©


In town yesterday and came across the Reverend enjoying the breeze. Hope all is going well.



Editor’s note:

It’s fitting that Rev. Elwood H. Stokes  is residing permanently outside the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ.   Stokes was a native of New Jersey who began as a bookbinder and wound up as one of the Founders of OG.  Then he became the  first president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  (1869-1897).

This summary is from Rutgers University core-Libraries:

Dr. Elwood H. Stokes was the first president of the “Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association”, holding that post from 1869 until his death in 1897. Known as “The Father of Ocean Grove” Dr. Stokes led many projects which contributed to the success of the town. These included drilling fresh water wells, constructing a sewage system, planning the town’s layout, ensuring roads and railroads were in place to transport people and installing electric lights. His most significant accomplishment was overseeing the construction of the Grand Auditorium. This statue in his memory was sculpted by Paul W. Morris and unveiled in 1905. It sits on the Ocean Pathway in front of the Great Auditorium.

The first central place of worship in the Grove was an octagon-shaped preacher’s stand.  But the summer-oriented Methodist campground became popular fairly quickly, and there were three auditoriums built during the first 25 years.  Eventually Rev. Stokes saw the need for something really big, and he was a big thinker.  He was the prime mover in planning for a huge auditorium to hold up to 10,000 worshippers.   This project was achieved late in his life.  On July 1, 1894 the Great Auditorium was officially opened, and Rev. Stokes gave the first sermon.

Stokes was a man of letters:  poet, composer of hymns and an author. He was beloved by the people of Ocean Grove.

The best source of information about the Great Auditorium is the excellent 2012 book by Wayne T. Bell, Cindy L. Bell and Darrell A. Dufresene.  “The Great Auditorium: Ocean Grove’s Architectural Treasure.”  It is available through the Historical Society of Ocean Grove and at Amazon.com.  —–Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger


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