Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Grove Historical Society’

10 Main Avenue. Some questions are now answered. Photo courtesy of HSOG

10 Main Avenue. 1896.  Some questions are now answered. Photo courtesy of HSOG. Click left to see the details.

Detail: verso (back of the image)

Detail: verso (back of the image)

10 Main Avenue today. Blogfinger photo

10 Main Avenue today. 2013.  Blogfinger photo

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger  (Originally posted on BF November 2013)

The Historical Society of Ocean Grove was recently presented with a sepia-colored photograph of an OG house dated “1896”. The image was donated by relatives of a man who had settled the estate of a Dorothy Quinn.

The image shows  “a two story stick-style house with Victorian trim including arches, square posts, shutters, a gull-wing roof, two wrap-around porches and a third floor balcony. Also shown in the photo are five people with bikes and a baby in a buggy, identified as possibly being a young Dorothy Quinn.”*

“On the right side, the building is cut off, but another gull-wing is suspected; although some houses in the Grove have a  single-gull-wing.  The square posts are said to be unusual.”*

The back of the photo is captioned in pencil with “House of La Vogt, Ocean Pathway. Mrs. PM Day (with buggy) and Dorothy in carriage. Ocean Grove Sept 1896.”

Ted Bell, HSOG historian, sent Blogfinger the photo for scanning and presentation on the blog.  He said that his people would call my people when more research had been done regarding the image.  Knowing that Ted took many years to complete his book on the Great Auditorium and knowing how meticulous he is, I thought that I should grow a beard and swear not to cut it off until I hear from him.

Well, la-dee-dah— a short while later I receive an email from someone I never heard of before:  Roxanne Greco, “HSOG history intern.”  It seems that Ms. Greco had done some original research on the photo with the encouragement of Mr. Bell. Voila!  Ted had found a researcher to help him, and we thank Ms. Greco for the quick turn around.

She tells us that the building in the photo was probably at 10 Main Avenue rather than the Ocean Pathway and that it was likely a boarding house owned by Louis A. Vogt. Ms. Greco found old records that multiple families lived there “at once and in short periods throughout the late 19th century as found in the Ocean Grove House Occupancy Directory by David H. Fox.” She also found  Mr. Vogt listed at 10 Main Avenue, when checking another source.

In 1939 the Pine Tree Inn was listed at 10 Main Avenue.  Mrs. John Shafer proprietor.  Greco’s research found nothing else about Louis A. Vogt, and one of the goals is to find out more about him.   Ms. Greco says, “The mystery continues into the 20th century when the house was converted into the Pine Tree Inn (aka The Arsdale,) with many of the Victorian features removed.”*  That building was recently changed from a small hotel into a private home.

The photo above doesn’t look much like the current structure at that Main Avenue location, but Ted and Roxanne see similarities in the windows and a suggestion that the earlier wrap around-porches had been removed. They would like to evaluate the interior of the building to check certain details such as the width of the floor boards. The idea that the building in the photo was on Main Avenue and not Ocean Pathway is strongly suggested by the information at hand, but it is not certain. The “Ocean Pathway” address on the back is not explainable so far.

Roxanne says that the history of 10 Main Avenue remains a mystery due to “several gaps in the timeline of our resources.”  “Further investigation is necessary,”

She says, “Normally we prefer to confirm our research from more than one source. We need a solid timeline.”    She and Ted will continue researching those gaps.  “This photo is now part of the known history of 10 Main Avenue, and we look forward to filling in in the existing gaps.”

She says that the HSOG is “currently soliciting donations to install a word/phrase search feature on the recently completely digitized Ocean Grove Record/Times newspaper. This search feature will enable those interested to perform a more efficient and quicker inquiry as to their house’s history.” and the people who lived there.

Here is a link to the BF post about a wedding in 2014 at 10 Main Ave:


Blogfinger has been interested in OG history since the birth of the blog  (which is after the birth of the blues)  and we welcome information that helps our citizens understand the history of our town—religious and secular. Contact us if you have a story to tell.

*All quotes are by Roxanne Greco, HSOG history intern, who provided the research results for this article with the assistance of Ted Bell.   You can see how tough the process can be. —PG

FRANK SINATRA    (from the movie  Pal Joey)  Can you see that steeple?

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Historian Lyndell O’Hara explores women’s role in Ocean Grove from 1870 to 1900.

By Mary Walton

The year is 1858. Margaret Coleman is awarded a medical degree, becoming one of the country’s tiny number of female physicians. But in Ocean Grove their numbers are swelling. By 1900 five of the town’s 10 doctors are women. Nationwide, the figure is just 5 percent.

And by 1880 one of those Ocean Grove doctors is Coleman, who has moved here after practicing 20 years in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She purchased what was known as “Block House” at 40 Pitman Avenue and turned it into a treatment center that offered “first class accommodations to patients.”

Block House likely featured the therapeutic salt baths spiked with electricity — sometimes too much electricity — that were popular in those days. “Occasionally they lost a few people,” Lyndell O’Hara tells a rapt audience of 29 people, who have signed up for her women’s history tour sponsored by the Historical Society of Ocean Grove. The group is standing in the shade of a stately sycamore across the street from 40 Pitman, now the Allenhurst apartments. O’Hara gleaned the news of salt bath casualties from the Ocean Grove Record for that period.

A history professor at the Manhattan campus of Nyack College and an Ocean Grove resident for the past decade, O’Hara has spent three years exploring the role of women in Ocean Grove from 1870 to 1900. From census records, newspapers, Camp Meeting Association yearbooks, biographies and other materials she has painstakingly assembled a surprising portrait of a feminist haven.

During those three decades the Grove was both a center of the Holiness movement, which allowed women to develop as religious leaders, and a stronghold of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. “Because of the Holiness movement and temperance, women gathered here every summer,” O’Hara said. By 1900, 64 percent of the Grove’s population was female. In Asbury Park it was 56 percent, in Long Branch 51 percent.

Among the boldface names who spent considerable time in Ocean Grove were Phoebe Palmer, known as “the Mother of Holiness;” Frances Willard, president of the WCTU, and Amanda Berry Smith, a world-famous African American evangelist.

Not only did women flock to the Grove, they put down roots and prospered in business. “Ninety percent of the tourist business was run by women,” O’Hara told the group. Many of them were single or widowed. They owned and operated boardinghouses and cottages, or they rented boardinghouses from owners and rented out rooms. The industrious Carolyn Sissom somehow managed to lease 14 lots from the Camp Meeting Association when two were the limit and turned herself into a real estate maven.

Women dominated the tourism business in the 19th century, O”Hara says. OG women were also active in important religious movements. Photos by Mary Walton

Forty Pitman was the first of nine stops on O’Hara’s recent tour. Another was the site of the Manchester on Ocean Pathway, which was destroyed by fire in 2010. It was owned in the 19th century by Kate Kellogg, who had lived in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. After her husband’s death she moved to the Grove and supported herself by taking in boarders until she was in her early 90’s.

At 6 Atlantic (also 5 Surf), today’s four-story olive green Aurora is “exactly the same” as when the three Bull sisters ran it, O’Hara said. Raised in a family of 11 children in Bradford, Pennsylvania, the sisters later moved to Newark, where they did piecework in the textile industry. Around 1879, the eldest, Matilda, rented “Shadyside Cottage” in Ocean Grove. By 1884, she owned the Aurora. And some five years later the enterprising Matilda opened the first hotel in Dunedin on the west coast of Florida and ran it during the winters. One of her visitors was Camp Meeting Association president Ellwood H. Stokes, who was quoted in the Ocean Grove Record as saying that it was “a real joy to be greeted at our place of entertainment, the ‘Dunedin House,’ by the courteous proprietor Miss M. A. Bull and her sister Lydia.”

Throughout O’Hara’s tour, Esther Dajnowski of New York City took copious notes and photographs. “I knew this was a place where a lot of women movers and shakers were,” she said. “But I’m glad to get more information and specific examples.” She said she would “type it up and share it with people who have similar interests.”

Thus far this summer O’Hara has led two tours, with a third scheduled for 1 p.m. August 30. The cost is $8 and reservations are advised.

Gail Shaffer, president of the Historical Society, said O’Hara’s research will be the basis of an exhibit next year at the Society’s museum, and O’Hara says a book is in the works. She will continue to lead tours next summer to different addresses. Ocean Grove is so rich with stories of women’s accomplishments linked to various locations, she said, that “I can do it anywhere.”

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Founders Fountain in its glory days. Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Ocean Grove

By Mary Walton

What was once a handsome four-tier fountain, the centerpiece of Founder’s Park, today is a forlorn structure half its original size, surrounded by ugly orange plastic netting.

Constructed in 1907 by the J.W. Fiske Iron Works of New York, the fountain was already in disrepair when a vandal threw soap into it in the 1970s, clogging its plumbing forever. Gone are the top three tiers, the four urns that perched on its water-filled base and the pipe railing that surrounded it. The design on its pedestal featuring scallop shells, drills and tulips is barely visible, and the pedestal itself is deeply cracked and corroded. A ragged fringe of cannas and pink vinca encircle what’s left, representing a valiant attempt by Ocean Grove Beautification to improve its appearance. Grass sprouts from the top basin.

The netting was put in place lest the fountain topple over onto children who play in the park and might be tempted to climb it. Truth to tell, says Ocean Grove historian Ted Bell, the fountain sits in a solid cement base. “Two of us could not even budge it.”

But help for the fountain, says Bell, may be on the way.

Ted Bell at the fountain he hopes can be restored. Photo by Mary Walton

In his research, Bell discovered that a company in Alabama called Robinson Ironworks had purchased Fiske. From Luke Robinson, of the iron works, he learned that the company still had the original molds used to cast the fountain. And on Wednesday Robinson is arriving in Ocean Grove to evaluate the fountain for possible restoration. Under Bell’s leadership a committee of the Historical Society of Ocean Grove plans to explore the availability of federal, state and county funds. The other committee members are Society president Gail Shaffer, Liz Ogden, Phillis Keutgen, Darrell Dufresne and Rose Myers.

Founder’s Park is the most historic site in Ocean Grove, the very place where Methodist elders gathered in 1869 and decided to establish a religious community. Several trees that shaded that august gathering still cast their shadows over the lawn.

Fountains are in short supply in this corner of New Jersey. In a voice filled with optimism, Bell says the one in Founder’s Park is “the only soon-to-be-working fountain in Monmouth County.”

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