On-line Book




Chapter 1
Early Resorts

Chapter 2
Railroad Resorts

Chapter 3
Religious Resorts

Chapter 4
The Boardwalk

Chapter 5
Roads and Roadside Attractions

Chapter 6
Resort Development in the Twentieth Century

Appendix A
Existing Documentation


An Historic Theme Study of the
New Jersey Heritage Trail Route
National Park Service Arrowhead

Resort Development in the Twentieth Century

Camps and Clubs

Early twentieth-century urban development changed the social construction of shore resorts as well as the physical landscape. The trip from city to resort became an easy "commute" rather than an arduous journey; newly designed resorts advertised recreational features and the benefits of residential communities within easy reach of the city. Architects and designers from New York and Philadelphia who followed wealthy clients to the resorts brought the latest ideas about urban planning and the kinds of facilities that should be provided for new communities. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement and memories of the 1893 Chicago Centennial Exhibition, towns such as Spring Lake, Island Heights, and Beach Haven established yacht clubs, tennis clubs, and other recreational facilities. The wealthy summer residents who commissioned such buildings had their own expectations about social life on the shore. Most came from New York and Philadelphia themselves, where they belonged to the appropriate urban social organizations. Over the years, the membership of resort clubs has become less exclusive, reflecting the varied population of the shore communities. In many cases, the remaining club buildings recall lifestyles of wealth and prestige in towns that have since become middle and working class.

Sherborne Farm: "White House of New Jersey"

The shore's natural resources and plentiful wildlife attracted some of the first visitors to Tucker's Island and Cape May. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the hunting and fishing industries were promoted in books by Charles Hallock, including The Sportsman's Gazetteer and General Guide (1883) among others. Hallock gave sportsmen railroad directions from New York and Philadelphia. Those traveling to Beach Haven were advised to take the New Jersey and Southern Railroad by way of the Sandy Hook and Long Branch, and connect at Whitings for the train to Tuckerton. Once on the island, they would enjoy excellent yachting, fine sea bathing, plentiful weakfish, and a variety of wading birds. [1] During the middle decades of the nineteenth century, three hotels on Long Beach Island catered to the needs and desires of urban sportsmen—Harvey Cedars Hotel, Bond's Long Beach House, and the Mansion of Health. [2] Such boarding hotels offered rustic accommodations to men who desired a frontier-like experience. Money was a requirement for such wilderness excursions—the proper clothing, gun, dog, transportation, and lodging were essential elements of the urban sportsman's vacation.

By the early 1890s, a direct train connection ended Long Beach Island's isolation and developers began constructing large, elegant "cottages," particularly in the Beach Haven area. Advances in shotgun technology since the Civil War increased the popularity of recreational sport gunning. Gunners chose to stay in the newly organized gun clubs that provided them with necessary facilities and bayside access, rather than in old-fashioned hotels. The club form of organization was also more suitable for communities that had begun to establish permanent summer residences.

When architect Thomas Sherborne, Jr., designed his Victorian house in the 1870s, he could not have known that "Sherborne Farm" would become a famous Long Beach Island landmark (Fig. 90). The evolution of the property into a sportsmen's retreat should be understood in the context of newly founded sporting hotels and gun clubs throughout the region. [3] During the 1910s and 1920s, Charles W. Beck hosted friends who came to the island on hunting expeditions; three rooms on the third floor of the farm were designated for guests, and other rooms could be mustered as needed. These regular visits earned the home the nickname of "Liberty Hall" (after the adjacent street) and "White House of New Jersey." Numerous photographs have survived of shooting parties with their kill and of men playing musical instruments at the farm. Beck was an officer of the Beach Haven Gun Club, founded shortly after the turn of the century by Philadelphian John Dickerson.

Sherburne Farm
Figure 90. Sherburne Farm, Long Beach Island. HABS No. NJ-1106-1.

The history of the farm and its social circle illustrates Beach Haven's dependency on Philadelphia during these early decades of the twentieth century. Shooting, socializing, and music characterized the male recreational experience of Sherborne Farm, an extension of professional life that rarely included women. The men relished the contrast between their activities and the "predominantly feminine 'rocking chair fleets' on the hotel and cottage porches." [4] That the 1870s farmhouse was built by an architect emphasizes the irony of Philadelphia's elite seeking expensive vacations in artificially primitive settings. The local, year-round residents lived in smaller, impermanent homes which have not survived. Although the club expanded to include yachting in 1907, it suffered a decline in patronage when the Baldwin Hotel opened winterized rooms for gunners.

Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club

The July 1912 Beach Haven Times reported that the founders of Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club (Fig. 91) were primarily "prominent Philadelphia business and professional men who are interested in Beach Haven and have their summer homes here." [5] Instantly popular, the new club attracted forty-five members in two weeks, and shortly established a ladies' auxiliary. During the course of meetings in the Hotel Baldwin—one of Beach Haven's grand hotels—the founders formed a building committee to design their own facility. [6] The committee hired Camden architects Moffet and Stewart and engaged local builder William Butler to erect the structure on landfill from the dredging of the Liberty Thoroughfare.

Little Egg Yacht Club
Figure 91. Little Egg Yacht Club. HABS No. NJ-1105-1.

In August 1916, members held their first recorded meeting in the clubhouse. [7] Of the ninety-seven senior and twenty-one junior members on the 1920 club roster, a majority were from Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill, Germantown, Bryn Mawr, and Overbrook, although local towns were also represented. The obituary of founder Morton Gibbons-Neff, recorded in a September 1964 Beach Haven Times, provides a sense of these men's institutional affiliations. A resident of Narberth, Pennsylvania, Gibbons-Neff had been an independent insurance broker, president of Poor Richards' Club, and director of the Franklin Institute, Union League, and the Merion Cricket Club. Apparently many other Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club members belonged to the Merion Cricket Club, a connection that is still discernible today.

In its early years, the club participated in power-boat, cat-boat, and sneak-box races. Associations with the region's other yacht clubs were formed almost immediately; the first annual cruise to the Island Heights Yacht Club was held August 1, 1914. In 1933, the club decided to form a summer camp, which has since become the principal summer program. The Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club originally operated from June to the first week of September. During the off-season, boats were stored in Ostendorff's Garage, the famous garage that served as the club's early meeting place. [8] Younger members would return to Beach Haven on spring weekends from prep school and college to prepare their boats. The Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club now accommodates activities year-round.

The Wanamaker Camp

The history of the Wanamaker Camp (Fig. 92) at Island Heights offers insight into the summer camp movement at the turn of the century, corporate paternalism, and social concern over the education of urban, working-class young people. The camp was an experiment in communal living that incorporated current theories on health and relied on military models. An innovator in the development of department stores and mass retail sales, John Wanamaker founded the John Wanamaker Commercial Institute (JWCI) in 1896 as a vocational and non-vocational training program for his young employees. [9] The Institute's goals were clearly outlined in its 1915 yearbook, "The purpose of the institute is to enable its students, while earning a livelihood, to obtain, by textbooks, lectures, drills and schools of daily opportunity, such personal development and practical and technical education in the arts and sciences of commerce and trade as will equip them to fill honorable positions in life and increase personal earning power." Each young person spent approximately five to seven hours of work per week in the classroom—supposedly compensating for education missed in the years before child labor laws. Instructors divided the students into three groups: junior boys (age 14-16), senior boys (age 16-18), and girls. In the 1915 commencement exercises for the seniors, one speaker pointed out, "In all the work the teachers aim to correlate the material so as to make it serve purposes in the stores." The theory was that a practical application would both hold the students' attention and support the store's interests. [10]

Wanamaker Hall
Figure 92. Wanamaker Hall, Island Heights. HABS No. NJ-1144-1.

Two years after founding the Commercial Institute, Wanamaker purchased bayfront land in Island Heights for a summer camp. Island Heights offered convenient rail transportation to both Philadelphia and New York, the sites of Wanamaker's major stores. The town's Methodist origins gave it a wholesome reputation, especially compared with the "decadence" of popular secular shore resorts. For the first four years of the camp, 1900-04, the employees lived in canvas tents. In 1904, the original barracks were constructed to provide protection during the occasionally wet summers. [11] Now boarded up and covered with asbestos shingles, the headquarter's house, complete with battlements giving it a military aspect, was once the center of the Wanamaker retreat. The camp had two-week sessions for boys, and in 1907, girl employees spent their first two-week vacation at Island Heights. Junior cadets (boys) were required to attend camp if they were employed prior to May 1 of the same year; those employed prior to January 1st received one week's pay; those who had attended two consecutive camps received two weeks' pay; and four consecutive years earned three weeks' pay. [12] The cadets, as institute attendees were known, continued to live in army tents after the barracks' construction, although in 1914, wood platforms were added to increase their comfort. [13]

From its beginnings, the camp followed an essentially military organization, with daily dress parades, military bands, and formation marches (Fig. 93). World War I reinforced this military inclination, and from 1910 to 1920, an officers' training camp was held at the barracks. Early newspaper articles report that the town enjoyed the drills and dress parades. On one unusual Sunday in August 1910, the newspaper claimed that 2,000 attended the cadets' dress parade. [14] The John Wanamaker Commercial Institute bands regularly performed at the Island Heights Yacht Club and at other clubs and local events. [15] Many early photographs show the cadets marching and performing in formation, carrying flags and wood guns. Despite its regimented schedule—the battalions and companies, officers, and cadets—the camp also provided relaxed and informal waterfront activities like swimming and boating.

Wanamaker Commercial Club Girls
Figure 93. Wanamaker Commercial Club Girls. Postcard. Allaback

In 1909, Wanamaker founded the Meadowbrook Club, an athletic-oriented club that complemented the more academic orientation of the Institute. Meadowbrook's 1920 yearbook explained, "Here is just the problem of to-day as it exists in the Wanamaker store; the problem of how to keep the intellectual boy and girl from becoming physically flabby and of how to keep the athletic employee from becoming intellectually flabby." [16] This emphasis on physical development also drew impetus from World War I, when the nation's draft revealed that many young men were "deficient physically." [17] Wanamaker's constructed a complete athletic facility on the roof of the Philadelphia store and used an athletic field at the corner of 23rd and Market streets. The club competed regularly against high schools, colleges, and other athletic clubs. [18]

The 1914 daily routine conveys a sense of the camp's military-style schedule. Twenty-nine calls during the day marked the parameters of waking, eating, exercise, clean-up, military drills, playing, and sleeping. The "Record of Daily Happenings" humanizes this rigid description by mentioning the competitions and prizes, visitors' days, special parades, concerts, speeches, and sailing parties. Whereas the boys' camp is more consistently referred to as a "military camp," the girl employees are frequently described as vacationers with chaperons. Some records suggest similarities between the boys' and girls' camps—such as marching in military formations. One former female cadet, employed by the store from 1926-36, recalled "drilling and marching either with wood guns or playing our instruments. Our uniforms were either dark blue with white trimming—or our dress uniform, which we frequently wore at camp, of white with blue. One of our trips yearly at camp was to go over to Seaside Heights to march and play our instruments in the yearly baby parade." She wrote of the athletic endeavors as well as the marching and drilling formations. [19]

"Suburbs of New York and Philadelphia"

When the Philadelphia and Long Branch Railroad met the New York and Long Branch in 1881, the area south of Toms River was open for development. However, significant building did not occur until twentieth-century land speculators and their corporate sponsors planned vacation communities along the river. The original developers promoted their new resorts' proximity to New York and Philadelphia. In the past, women and children were frequently sent to summer homes by the seaside while men remained at jobs in the cities. Land speculators promoted convenient transportation that would allow working fathers to escape from the city for weekend reunions with their families.

Today, the small towns surrounding Toms River are defined by connecting highways. A central traffic artery, Route 9, connects the communities with the southern shore, while the river forms a common northern boundary. According to the Ocean County Observer, "for most people, South Toms River begins where Main Street in Toms River. . . (Route 166), crosses the Toms River and heads toward Route 530." The surrounding towns of Ocean Gate, Pine Beach, and Beachwood are perceived as part of the single region of South Toms River, all dependant on the municipal and commercial services of the nearby county seat.

Pine Beach

The Methodists who set up camp in Island Heights late in the nineteenth century were not concerned with the real estate market. But when Philadelphian Robert Horter visited the area in 1908, he saw the potential value of the land at the railroad crossing known as Island Heights Junction. Within a year, Horter and his financial backer, George Kelly, surveyed the land, mapped the streets, and loaded the prospective customers onto trains. The Pine Beach Improvement Company sold 109 lots the first year. Building continued at a frantic pace until 1912, when demand began to level out significantly. By then, Kelly had already completed the Pine Beach Inn, a seventy-five-room hotel that became part of the Admiral Farragut Academy in 1933 (Fig. 94). During the boom years, LeRoy Hutchinson built the Pine Beach Chapel, a Queen Anne, Shingle-style church. Five years later, Hutchinson completed the Pine Beach Yacht Club, a building he replaced with an expanded two-story version in 1921. [20] The local architect was also responsible for much of the residential development concentrated along Midland and Henley streets within the founder's grid plan. When it was incorporated in 1925, Pine Beach consisted of "about 120 houses (80 percent summer occupied), two stores, Winterling's gas station, Pine Beach Inn, Pine Beach Chapel, [and] Pine Beach Yacht Club." [21]

Admiral Farragut Academy
Figure 94. Admiral Farragut Academy, Pine Beach. HABS No. NJ-1160-1.

The establishment of the Admiral Farragut Academy, the first American naval preparatory school, brought unexpected distinction to Pine Beach. After searching the East Coast from Florida to Maine, school founders decided to remodel the empty Pine Beach Inn into a dormitory and classrooms. Only three acres when it was founded in 1933, the campus had spread over twenty-eight acres and included eight buildings by 1975. The academy is incorporated into a residential neighborhood oriented toward the river. Within walking distance of both chapel and docks, the school marks a decisive break in the regular pattern of houses and pines. It closed in 1994.

Continued >>>

top of page Top

Last Modified: Mon, Jan 10 2005 10:00:00 pm PDT

National Park Service's ParkNet Home