Category: Exploring Historic Cape May, NJ

Old Broad Street Presbyterian Church & Cemetery                                                                 54 West Avenue                                                South Bridgeton, NJ 08302

Old Broad Street Presbyterian Church & Cemetery 54 West Avenue South Bridgeton, NJ 08302

Old Broad Street Presbyterian Church & Cemetery

54 West Avenue

South Bridgeton, NJ 08302

Check website

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Broad_Street_Presbyterian_Church_and_Cemetery

Broad Street Presbyterian Church

Open: From Dawn to Dusk every day

Admission: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g46324-d24140698-r844174571-Old_Broad_Street_Presbyterian_Church_Cemetery-Bridgeton_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Old Broad Street Presbyterian Church at 54 West Avenue

When I was traveling to Salem and Cumberland Counties to visit historical sites, this was the last one on my list the first day of exploring. The Old Broad Street Presbyterian Church sits in the middle of a declining downtown in Bridgeton, NJ like a ghost of its former self. This graceful and elegant church is not used much anymore and sits like a majestic building overlooking a city that has passed it by.

The church was built in 1792 for the growing Presbyterian congregation who was living in Bridgetown as it was called at the time. The brick walls and roof were completed but it would take another three years for the interior to be finished (Cumberland History.org).

The cemetery is extremely interesting as you visit the historic tombstones and the family plots and try to figure out the connections. The biggest problem with the cemetery is that is has gotten very overgrown in parts of it. It needs a good mowing and the gravestones need to be cleaned as they are wearing away with the elements. It was hard to follow the historical listing but many famous residents and leaders of the community are buried here as well as members of the armed forces from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and earlier.

In some cases, when the families were buried together, it almost told the story of what happened within the family. I saw grave sites where the son or daughter either died in child birth or a disease or in battle and then the devastated parents followed a few years later which was a sad narrative. I saw this many times in the family plots. How many children died of diseases that today are solved by a pill.

Some of the notable people buried in the cemetery are Ebenezer Elmer, who represented New Jersey in the United States House of Representatives from 1801-1807 and Jonathan Elmer, who represented New Jersey in the United States Senate from 1789-1791. Lucius Elmer, who represented New Jersey’s First congressional district from 1843-1845. Eilas Seeley, who was the Eleventh Governor of New Jersey serving in 1833. William G. Whiteley, who represented Delaware in the United States House of Representative from 1857 to 1861. Joseph Archibald Clark and Clement Waters Shoemaker, who were two of the founders of Cumberland Glass Manufacturing Company (Wiki).

The Broad Street Church Cemetery

The history of the Broad Street Presbyterian Church and its cemetery:

(From Cumberland NJ Art.org)

For much of the 18th century in Bridgetown, which will eventually change its name to Bridgeton, there existed no church for Presbyterians, who were a large and growing segment of the local population. For church services, they were forced to conduct services in the Courthouse or travel to churches in Greenwich, Fairfield or Deerfield several miles away.

In 1792, about two acres of land were donated along King’s Highway, which was the main road from Bridgeton to Greenwich and ran along the south end of the church constuction site. In 1800, this main route was relocated to the north and is today Broad Street (Route 49).

The basic design of the Broad Street Presbyterian Church was set by it congregation and organizers who requested a masonry building with dimensions of at least forty by fifty feet. By December 1792, the brick walls and roof has been completed but it would take another three years for the interior to be finished.

The design of the Broad Street Presbyterian Church is that of a meeting house, almost square in proportion. In the 17th and early 18th centuries, many American houses of worship were built in the meeting house form. This design was in contrast to the more formal churches of the period, which were more rectangular than square with an alter and/or communion table and pulpit approached by a long nave and often divided from the congregation by a railing. Broad Street Presbyterian Church has a tall pulpit, accessed by a winding stair and surrounded on three sides by pews so as many congregations as possible could attend and sit as close as possible to the preacher.

Above the pulpit is one of the most significant architectural features of the church, the Palladian window with its central window and semicircular arch flanked on each side by smaller windows and all unified by an entablature supported by columns. The name “Palladian” comes from the Venetian architect who originated the design, Andrea Palladio, who worked in 16th century.

Architects in the 17th and 18th centuries would travel from other parts of Europe to Italy to study architecture and they brought the Palladian style back to England and the American Colonies. Thomas Jefferson acquired an intense appreciation of Palladian architecture and used it extensively in his desing for Monticello.

By 1835, the congregation had erected a new church but because the Broad Street church was surrounded by the cemetery, the congregation did not abandon or sell it but rather maintained it exactly as they left it, which is why today it is identified as one of the most pristine and unaltered examples of 18th century church architecture in the United States.

Today the Broad Street Presbyterian Church is used for special services and opened to the pubic by appointment. It is carefully maintained by the Presbyterian congregation of First Presbyterian Church located on Commerce Street in Bridgeton, NJ.

Lewes History Museum                                         101 Adams Avenue                                          Lewes, DE 19958

Lewes History Museum 101 Adams Avenue Lewes, DE 19958

Lewes History Museum

101 Adams Avenue

Lewes, DE 19958

(302) 645-7670

https://www.historiclewes.org/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm

Admission: $5.00 plus entrance to the Cannonball House Museum in addition

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34028-d17640472-Reviews-Lewes_History_Museum-Lewes_Delaware.html

Lewes Historical Society:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34028-d552705-Reviews-Lewes_Historical_Society-Lewes_Delaware.html

The Lewes History Museum

A video on “Historic Lewes, DE”

When I was visiting Rehoboth Beach, DE recently the museum I had wanted to visit in Rehoboth was closed for the day, so I remembered that there were a few museums in Lewes, DE, a small town right down the highway so I headed there and found the Lewes History Museum at 101 Adams Avenue. The museum was the old library which has since moved across the street.

The museum is very interesting and well set up. The museum is one big room that is broken down in different sections which helps explain the history of the town. Each display moves you through the museum in a chorological order of how the town developed.

The museum starts with a display on early Native American history which then moves to the colonization of the Dutch and British in the area. There are all sorts of interesting artifacts that tell the story of the Revolutionary War by way of the residents.

There are displays on the way homes were designed and decorated as well as the role that Lewes played during the war. There have been a lot of soldiers who had died in the war with their stories being told by the museum. There are also discussions about the interaction between the Native population with the colonists.

The Lewes History Museum’s displays are informative

There is a section on the development of businesses and Lewes as a resort town. The section on Lewes developing as a resort town was interesting with the advent of ocean swimming, boating and beach recreation.

Boating and sailing in Lewes, DE

There was an interesting display on Victorian furniture and decorating for the home. There were also all types of home furnishing items when setting up house during the Victorian Age.

There was a detailed display on the Beebe family and the growth of their well-known hospital. The family started with three beds in a home to the giant hospital that it is today. You can read about the family members contributions both to the hospital and the community.

The museum will take about an hour to comfortably walk through.

The History of the Lewes History Museum:

(From the Museum website):

The Lewes History Museum is located in the Margarat H. Rollins Community Center at 101 Adams Avenue in Lewes, DE. For 54 years, The Lewes Historical Society has collected and preserved tens of thousands of historic artifacts, artwork, documents, maps and photos. Now it the support from the City of Lewes, a gift of $500,000 from the Ma-Ran Foundation and generous donations, this incredible collection is on continuous display at the Lewes History Museum.

The museum serves as the primary source of information about Lewes for visitors, researchers, students and residents. Enjoy ongoing exhibits featuring Lewe’ maritime history, decorative arts and artists, famous families of Lewes and how our region is seen through environmental change. The museum provides ongoing seminars, symposia and presentations along with a wing for community non-profit gatherings.

The popular Children’s Discovery Center is house inside the museum and is currently closed at this time. The Discovery Center offers an interactive, fun and educational experience for children of all ages. At the Center, children can experience 19th century Delaware by interacting in a replica general store and post office, playing around a scaled model of Cape Henlopen Lighthouse with a Morse code station, foghorn and reflecting lights. The Center also houses a Delaware River Pilots’ simulation module, a electronic table-top boat-building area and a lighthouse “keepers cottage”.

The community center is the centerpiece of the cultural campus in Lewes, including 18 miles of trails, a concert stage, parks, a children’s garden and the Lewes Public Library.

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum                     500 Forrestal Road                                                                Cape May Airport, Rio Grande, NJ 08242

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum 500 Forrestal Road Cape May Airport, Rio Grande, NJ 08242

Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum

500 Forrestal Road

Cape May Airport

Rio Grande, NJ 08242

(609) 886-8787

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm

https://usnasw.org/

https://www.facebook.com/aviationmuseum/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d1881607-Reviews-Naval_Air_Station_Wildwood_Aviation_Museum-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

The Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is located at the back of the Cape May Airport. Just follow the road to the back of the airport at 500 Forrestal Road in Hangar #1.

This interesting museum is a treasure trove of artifacts from WWII to today from jeeps to cars and trucks to airplanes. Some of the vehicles you can step into and see what it was like to ride these pieces of aviation history.

The displays are very interactive

There are several airplanes that with the assistance of the staff you can enter and see what air travel was like for these pilots. All the planes have been carefully restored and displayed for viewing and use by tourists. There is even a air traffic control tower you can enter and see how thing the functioning of the tower was done. These displays were interactive from the perspective of the people who once worked there.

The Air Traffic Control Tower is really interesting to enter

In the front of the museum as you enter, along the ways there is a display of the history of the Naval Hangar and how it developed and became part of the community. There were pictures of members walking the boardwalk in Wildwood and having a good time. There were stories of many interactions between the sailors and the locals and what an exciting time it was for everyone.

Many local heroes stories were told all over the building of Navy personal from the area and the part that they played in the war years and when they returned. Each story board told of their early lives, how they got involved in the war, the roles that played and jobs that were accomplished and what their lives were like when they returned. The mindset of this generation is very different than from today.

What I really enjoyed was the documentary “Boatlift”, the story of the 9/11 rescue of thousands of people off Manhattan island on 9/11 (it was around the 20th Anniversary of the event when I toured the museum) and the bravery and involvement of boaters and sailors all over the New York maritime region. Hundreds of boats were involved in getting people to safety to New Jersey and other parts of the NYC. It was a lesson in selflessness and involvement in one of the darkest days of American history.

Outside the hangar, there are more planes to tour and equipment that is used. Each display is carefully explained of its role in the armed forces so take the time to read the plaques as well.

Outside Hangar #1

Inside the building towards the back, there is a display of commercial establishments and even the role of Coca Cola during the war and it being used in the ration boxes of the men and women fighting for our country. There were pictures of USO dances and get togethers and parties for the enlisted men.

There is even a space shuttle piece to explore and admire showing our progression into different types of transportation over time. The museum has carefully displayed items so that there is an order to follow around the room to admire each piece. Take the time to look them over and read about them.

This museum is an interesting step back in time to show the role New Jersey and Cape May County played during the war years and then going forward.

The Mission of the Museum:

Restoring Hangar #1, educating the public on Cape May Country’s history during WWII and memorializing the 42 naval aviators who were training at the Naval Air Station Wildwood.

The History of the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum:

(Taken from the Museum website)

WWII:

Following the outbreak of World War II, this all wood double wide aircraft hangar was assembled by the U.S. Navy in 1942 from a kit delivered via railroad. On April 1st, 1943, NAS Wildwood was commissioned as a training facility for dive bomber squadrons that would go on to fight in the Pacific. Between 1943 and 1945, activities included night flying and target practice over the Delaware Bay, reaching a peak of almost 17.000 takeoffs and landings in the month of October 1944. Before NAS Wildwood was decommissioned, 129 crashes occurred and 42 airmen died in training exercises.

Following World War II, United States Overseas Airlines was operated out of Hangar #1, offering both national and international charter flights. The airline was owned by Dr. Ralph Cox, a dentist and U.S. navy pilot during WWII. Cox also used the hanger to display his collection of early automobiles and other transportation memorabilia including a steam locomotive.

1970-1990:

Southern Jersey Airways operated a commuter airline known as the Allegheny Commuter out of the Cape May Airport. The service was started by Captain Curt Young, ho was a bomber pilot during WWII. The Allegheny Commuter offered twenty-two daily flights between Atlantic City and Philadelphia as well as eight round trips out of Cape May.

1997-Present:

After many years of neglect, Hangar #1 was rediscovered by Dr. Joseph Salvatore and his wife, Patricia Anne, who acquired the building from Cape May County for $1.00. Listed on both the state and national registers of historic places, Hangar #1 is an exhibit in and of itself. Since 1997, the Salvatore’s and the NASW Foundation have worked hard to restore the hangar to its original condition. Today, Hangar #1 is open to the public as part of the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum.

Avalon History Center                                                              215 39th Street                                                                     Avalon, NJ 08202

Avalon History Center 215 39th Street Avalon, NJ 08202

Avalon History Center

215 39th Street

Avalon, NJ 08202

(609) 967-0090

Open: Sunday Closed/ Monday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-3:00pm

http://www.avalonhistoricalsociety.org/

https://www.facebook.com/avalonhistorycenter/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g29754-d8096123-Reviews-Avalon_History_Center-Avalon_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

The Avalon History Center is at 215 39th Street in Downtown Avalon, NJ

Recently I took a tour of small Jersey shore towns and their historical societies. These interesting little museums are packed with information on the history and development of these towns. The progress of these towns from fishing and hunting villages for the Native Americans to the modern day resorts and permanent residence’s have a fascinating history.

The Avalon History Center was the last museum on my visit to the shore that day and it had become very gloomy outside. The town was relatively quiet when I got there on a late Thursday night. I ended up having the whole museum to myself to tour. The curator came out and greeted me nicely and said that they were working in the back and if I had any questions to come get them. Outside that, I was the only one touring the exhibitions.

When you enter the building, the rooms are broken down in section by display. The Avalon Police Department has a wonderful exhibition of the history of the department. There are all sorts of police gear, mannequins with old uniforms and all sorts of police gear and pictures of the department through the ages. Near that is the Brendan Borek High Tide Memorial Fund.

The Early Avalon Room contains the history of the many hotels that used to dot the town during the Victorian era that have either burned down or succumbed to the ocean currents. Of all the hotels that existed only the Sea Lark B &B (See my review on TripAdvisor) still greeting guests. There are all sorts of dishware from the old hotels, menus and silverware that show the opulence of the time when pleasure travel lasted longer than present day.

The Sealark B &B at 3018 First Avenue in Avalon, NJ

http://www.sealark.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g29754-d79340-Reviews-Sealark_Bed_and_Breakfast-Avalon_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

There was a section on the Founding of the town and its development over time. The town used to be Native American place to fish and hunt to the Victorian resort it became with the railroads. There was extensive history of the Railroad system that was so important to the growth of these shore towns. This was until 1937 when the rail system became obsolete with the advent of the automobile. There was a nice display of the old Avalon Pier.

The back of the building was dedicated to local businesses that have since closed, This shows old signs, pictures and menus of watering holes that were popular for generations. There was an interesting display from the Avalon Hotel’s ‘Phil’s Bongo Room’, a popular place for bands.

On the other side of the front of the museum is an interesting display on the Avalon Shore Patrol, a much dedicated group of men and women that play such an important role in a shore community. The museum displayed an restored patrol boat surrounded by other artifacts. Pictures of generations of Beach Patrol members proudly line the walls.

The Beach Patrol display

The museum also has landscaped grounds to walk outside either to some of the smaller historical buildings or to the gazebo to relax on a nice day and just enjoy the breezes. It is nice to walk along the flowering beds and just enjoy the sunshine.

History of the Avalon History Center:

(from a recent AHMS Newsletter)

The current facility opened its doors in September of 2001 to the public and began to share Avalon’s past, historical photographs, artifacts, memories and recollections lovingly collected and recorded by members of the Avalon Museum and Historical Society.

After several years of discussion, 1997 saw a historical society being formed at last in Avalon, supported by the enthusiastic endorsement of Mayor Marty Pagliughi and Borough Council President Nancy Hudanich, Doris Hanna and Jean Losch even secured a $10,000 donation from the Avalon Women’s Civic Club, as seed money for a building. Borough Council agreed to provide a location at 39th Street as well as a modular building-the old Public Works Headquarters, which did not prove suitable. The Avalon Museum and Historical Society got to work.

In June 1997, the first election of the Avalon Museum and Historical Society officers occured, along with the adoption of a constitution and bylaws. Among those first officers were Robert Jaggard, President, Lucille (Sue) Jacobson, Vice-President, Jan Jaggard, Secretary and Gordon Smith, Treasurer. Among thefirst Trustees were Jean Losch, Doris Hanna, Betty Shoemaker, Marvin Wells Jr., Joseph Koen and Robert Penrose Jr.

In early 1998, as the AMHS held its first fund drive, Doctors John and Elizabeth Ruskey agreed to honor the previous owner’s wish to donate their recently purchased house (location on 111st Street in Stone Harbor) to the effort. The Avalon Museum and Historical Society had support, money, a location and a building. Now all they had to do was move the house from Stone Harbor to Avalon, which is exactly what happened on November 6th, 1998. The groundbreaking took place on January 22nd, 1999.

Once in place, work on putting the building back together and creating a museum space continued, inside and out. Items had been donated, collected and stored in the homes of the officers and trustees. It was the work of the AMHS to organize fundraising events to finance the project.

In mid-September 2001, the officers opening day arrived at last and AMHS President Pary Woehlcke, together with Mayor Marty Pagliughi cut the ribbon on Avalon’s very own local history museum.

Since then, there have been many changes at 215 39th Street, including the merger and incorporation of the Avalon Museum and Historical Society into the Avalon Free Public Library. We are now the Avalon History Center.

One thing that remains constant is the commitment, enthusiasm and passion from History Center staff and the Historical Society Board and members. Our mission remains to bring Avalon’s past alive and make it accessible for all. This year has been a challenge but one we hope we have met as we continue to keep the doors open, broaden our outreach online, entertain, educate and amuse our patrons.

Mission of the Avalon History Center:

The Mission of the Avalon History Center is to collect, chronical and preserve the history of the Borough of Avalon in the County of Cape May, New Jersey.

Peermont Self-Guided Walking Tour:

This self-guided tour of a section of Peermont (25th to 42nd Streets) will lead you from the Avalon Post Office at 33rd and Dune Drive through to 30th Street and ending at the Boardwalk and Beach Patrol on 32nd Street. It should take about one hour of gentle walking.

History of the Area:

(from the Avalon History Center pamphlet)

In October of 1888, Philadelphia entrepreneur George Rummel and the Avalon Beach Improvement Co. (ABICO) purchased from Joseph Wells at 17 block area of Seven Mile Island from 25th to 42nd Streets. The tract excluded the vast beachfront but included large areas of boggy meadowlands west of Third Avenue. This section of Seven Mile Island became known as the ABICO tract.

Rummel’s first priority was to build a hotel, which he named “The Peermont”. The railroad station which went up at the same time also became known as Peermont and so the ABICO tract followed suit. Peermont was on the map.

The Hotel Peermont in Avalon, NJ

Building lots were very quickly offered for sale so many that those in the Avalon section began to feel somewhat behind. Lots were also sold and bought in the meadowlands between Third and Forth Avenues on the assumption that they would be drained, filled, graded and curbed. Unfortunately 25th Street to Gravens Thoroughfare was the only roadway made passable. Rummel did however tear down the dunes, fill in and grade the ponds and marsh areas along the beachfront section of the ABICO tract, in order to build a seawall and then a boardwalk.