Category: Exploring Sea Isle City NJ

Sea Isle City Museum  4800 Central Avenue  Sea Isle, NJ 08243

Sea Isle City Museum 4800 Central Avenue Sea Isle, NJ 08243

Sea Isle Museum

4800 Central Avenue

Sea Isle, NJ 08243

(609) 263-2992

https://www.facebook.com/Sea-Isle-City-Historical-Museum-326332320746077/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46807-d10452863-Reviews-Sea_Isle_City_Historical_Museum-Sea_Isle_City_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

The Sea Isle City Museum is located inside the Sea Isle Library at 4800 Central Avenue just off Downtown Sea Isle City, NJ

On a recent trip of touring the small towns of the Jersey shore, I set out to visiting many of the historical societies that tell the histories of these towns and how they have progressed from small Native American fishing villages to the resort and residential towns of today. Each of these museum has their own unique focus to how they tell their story.

The Sea Isle City Museum at 4800 Central Avenue is located in the back of the Municipal Building right next to the Sea Isle City Library. This small museum that is manned by volunteers is packed with local historical artifacts, pictures and exhibitions of the items in the museum. You have to walk to the back of the building to find the museum just off the library entrance.

When you walk into the museum, you are greeted by an exhibition of ‘Wedding Dresses through the Ages’, created by curator the late Marie Thompson Stafford, which shows various styles of wedding dresses from 1880 until current day that were worn by brides from Sea Isle City, NJ. Each dress was accompanied in most cases by the owner on her wedding day and gives a unique view of the changing of styles over the last century.

“Wedding Dresses through the Ages”

The back part of the museum is broken down into sections. Part of the museum is an on-going library of the history of the families have lived in town over the generations. What I thought was interesting about this was that each family had their own notebook binder to contribute family history and pictures of the family events. They could update their notebook by coming into the Historical Society and personally adding to the book. There have been 30 years of donations to the museum according to the volunteers.

There were also shelves of books on the Sea Isle City School district, the fire department, the police department and the Municipal departments of the town. These featured old pictures of the departments, artifacts over the years and documents of what happened in the town.

There was a section on the old hotels and restaurants of Sea Isle City at the turn of the last century until today. Various clapboard Victorian hotels used to line the shores here but many had succumbed to either fires or beach erosion. Several of the old restaurants like Cronecker’s Restaurant had just closed over time.

There was an interesting exhibition on the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol and the members who made up the squad. This is a very important part of the culture of the shore towns and their competitions are a very big deal. You can see the bragging rights of the towns over decades of summers. These lifeguards take their jobs very seriously.

Another exhibition was the “Armed Forces in Sea Isle City” and the EMS Armed Patrol. This small exhibition showed the uniforms and items used by the squads who lived in Sea Isle City. It showed the contributions of a small town.

Sea Isle City’s Armed forces

In one corner, there was a display of kitchen wares from the turn of the last century featuring all sorts of kitchen gadgets, an old oven and stove and various household items like an old washing machine that show how things have changed over the year but not by much. We have just modernized what was once considered old.

There was an interesting exhibition on Toys through time with all sorts of games, books and dolls that children used up until the 1960’s. It still resonates with me the idea of ‘creative play’ when I see these old dolls and how mature they looked. The board games also challenged the mind the way no cellphone will to a young person.

The back part of the Sea Isle City Historical Society

The last exhibit I looked at was the town history of Sea Isle City by founder Charles K Landis, who the main street of the town is named after who helped create the town in 1882. He also founded Vineland, NJ. This was a small display of pictures and artifacts of the early settlement.

Outside the museum is a protected area for the Diamondback Terrapin Turtle as their Nesting Grounds. According to one of the docents, they breed during the Spring and lay their eggs by the shore so the area has to be protected from humans and other wild animals.

Also outside to the side of the building is the Memorial Garden with its seasonal plantings, small waterfall and statue of Neptune. The Garden is located adjacent to the Historical Museum and offers a quiet and relaxing place to enjoy the natural area that surrounds it. You can purchase a paver to help support the museum and to proudly display your family or loved one’s name on our “Memory Lane Walkway”.

The Sea Isle Historical Museum Memorial Garden located to the side of the museum

This wonderful little gem of museum is open during the week and is free to the public. They are always docents and volunteers around to answer questions.

History of the Sea Isle Historical Society:

(from the Sea Isle City Historical Museum website)

In 1982, Sea Isle City celebrated the 100th Anniversary of its founding, an occasion which led to the creation of the Sea Isle City Historical Society and Museum. The museum formally opened on January 26th, 1983 in a temporary space in the city public school and moved 17 months later to a building behind the former City Hall. Harriet Reardon Bailey was elected first president and also served as its Curator for thirty years.

In 1990, Michael Stafford was elected President. Mike guided the museum through its next 25 years of growth and recognition in the community, resulting in the many displays and programs described throughout the website. The museum moved to larger quarters at 4208 Landis Avenue in 1995 and subsequently in 2011 to its present modern facility as part of the Sea Isle City Library building. Since his retirement in 2014, Mike Stafford has been succeeded by Mike McHale and then by our current President, Abby Powell.

Our Facility:

The museum is designed with an open floor plan to allow easy access as you move from exhibit to exhibit. We also provide an area to sit and conduct research, take notes or simply browse through our many articles, books and thousands of photographs. The museum features a unique bridal gown display, more than 200 family albums generated by the families themselves as well as an abundance of artifacts related to Sea Isle and the surrounding area.

Our Mission:

To acquire, preserve, display, celebrate and promote archives and artifacts relevant to the development of our unique cultural heritage and to delight, inspire and educate present and future generations about the story of Sea Isle City, NJ. The Sea Isle City Historical Society and Museum is a certified 501C3 nonprofit organization.

Our Vision:

To be an inviting, informative, educational and innovative community resource that is recognized and respected as the place for exploring and celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Sea Isle City and the surrounding areas.

The Pfeiffer Memorial Garden:

The Memorial Garden began many years ago at the Pfeiffer’s home in Sea Isle City. In 1996, existing memorial pavers and the statue of Neptune were installed in the Sea Isle City Historical Museum’s Memorial Garden at 4208 Landis Avenue. A formal dedication of the garden tool place on July 8, 2001. In 2001, the Memorial Garden received the coveted Sea Isle Beautification Award.

On August 4, 2012, the garden was dedicated at its new museum home at 4800 Central Avenue. Today, a project is nearly completed to enhance the garden with new landscaping, a diamondback turtle protection station and an active water feature which represents the flow of Sea Isle’s history from the past, to the present and onto the future.

On April 27th, 2016, the enhanced Memorial garden was formally dedicated to or past President, Mike Stafford and his late wife, Marie, both of whom did so much to nurture and grow the Historical Museum to what it is today.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park                                           208 Broadway                                             Barnegat, NJ 08006

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park 208 Broadway Barnegat, NJ 08006

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

208 Broadway

Barnegat, NJ 08006

(609) 494-2016

https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/barnlig.html

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-8:00pm

Fee: Free off season/ Check Website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d286497-Reviews-Barnegat_Lighthouse_State_Park-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I was able to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on a recent trip to Long Beach and what a beautiful park with wonderful views of the inlet and of the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2020, the lighthouse is closed because of COVID so I will have to wait in the future to climb the stairs which is noted for people who like to explore lighthouses but still you are able to admire the building from the outside.

The Bar

The Barnegat Lighthouse on the inlet side

There is a walking path through the bush areas of dunes. You need to keep yourself socially distanced at this time as you admire the trees and what is left at this point of the season of flowering plants. It was interesting to read how these species survive the ocean and salt air. It is amazing how these plants can survive the storms and how they keep the beach from eroding.

The Maritime Forest Trail is a 1/5 mile long, self-guided loop through one of the last remnants of maritime forest in New Jersey. The forest, which is dominated by black cherry, sassafras, eastern red cedar and American Holly, which is an important resting and feeding area for migratory birds on their long journey to and from their breeding areas (Park Literature).

It is also the home for migrating birds. There were all sorts of ducks swimming around and there a a bird that looked like a crane who looked like it was getting vain from all the pictures that people were taking of it.

The park has a 1033 foot concrete walkway that the fisherman use and people were sitting along the benches watching people fish and boaters come and go from the inlet. The walkway was a nice place to see the waves crash along the sides of the park.

I just saw a lot of dumb people walking along the wet rocks with waves crashing by which is not smart. Still you got great views of Seaside Park and the Atlantic Ocean from this part of the park. It is fun watching the fisherman casting lines, sharing stories and the fishing boats in the distance go out to sea close to the beach.

On a nice day take the time to walk through the nature trails and the dunes that face the ocean. It is a small but interesting trail with all sorts of native plants and a very nice description that the park gives you about each and their place at the shore. Each has a place with the wild life and the migration patterns for birds on their way to their next home. It shows what an important place that New Jersey serves for wildlife.

I revisited the park in November of 2021 and on a very windy day, the lighthouse was open and I finally made my way to the top. It was quite a hike up those narrow stairs on a extremely windy day but I made it to the top in about fifteen minutes. Along the way, there was small landings with sweeping views of the ocean.

Once to the top, there was a landing that surrounded the top of the lighthouse with views of the park and lagoon areas and the surrounding tip of the island. The strong winds prevented me from staying there too long plus there was not much space to move around and you felt like you were caged in but the views were spectacular. I made it down in ten minutes since there were only six other people there.

It was nice of them to finally open the lighthouse.

The History of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park:

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, located on the northern tip of Long Beach Island along the New Jersey Atlantic coastline, is one of New Jersey’s most recognized landmarks and a veteran of service to seafarers for 68 years. The park is easily accessible from the Garden State Parkway by taking exit 63 and following Route 72 east to Long Beach Boulevard northbound.

Park visitors can picnic, sunbathe, fish, bird watch, climb the historic lighthouse (post COVID), walk the Interpretive Center (post COVID) and enjoy the seashore. Swimming, however is not permitted. Barnegat Lighthouse is included as a maritime site on the New Jersey Heritage Trail Route (Barnegat Lighthouse State Park Pamphlet).

The beauty of the park in the later afternoon

Barnegat Lighthouse stands on the south side of Barnegat Inlet, The inlet was named “Barendegat” or “Breakers Inlet” by early Dutch explorers because of the large cresting waves that made navigation difficult. The site of the lighthouse was considered on of the most important “change of course” points along the eastern seacoast for vessels sailing to New York from Europe. Sailors depended on Barnegat Lighthouse as a navigational aide to assist them in reaching their posts and to avoid the dangerous shoals that extended from the shore.

In 1834, the U.S. Congress appropriated $6,000 to establish a lighthouse as Barnegat Inlet. The lighthouse was completed and placed into service in July of 1835. At only 40 feet tall with a non-blinking light, the first lighthouse at Barnegat Inlet was a miserable failure doing little to reduce the number of shipwrecks. In 1856, guided by recommendations from then Lieutenant George G. Meade of the U.S. Army Bureau of Topographical Engineers, Congress appropriated another $60,000 to construct a “first class light” at Barnegat Inlet.

Lieutenant Meade drew up the plans and Lieutenant W.S. Raynolds supervised the construction of the new lighthouse. On the night of January 1, 1859, the majestic new Barnegat Lighthouse was lit for the first time. Its first order Fresnel lens, at 175 feet above sea level was so powerful that it could be seen for 19 nautical miles.

The lens was made in 1856 by Henri Le Paute of Paris, France from glass produced at the famous furnace at St. Gobian. The beehive-shaped Fresnel lens is six feet in diameter, ten feet high and is formed from over 1,000 separate glass prisms and twenty four bull’s eye lenses mounted in a brass frame. It weighs nearly five tons. Today the lens is on display in the Barnegat Light Historical Museum on Central Avenue and 5th Street in Barnegat Light, New Jersey. For hours of operation, please call the museum at (609) 494-8578.

Turned by a clockwork mechanism, the lens rotated once every four minutes. The speed of the rotation and the 24 individual beams of light from the 24 bull’s eye lens gave Barnegat Lighthouse it’s characteristic” of one flash every ten seconds.

At the turn of the century, due to the encroaching sea and seemingly inevitable collapse, the Lighthouse Board considered abandoning Barnegat Lighthouse and replacing it with a lightship anchored off the coast. The popularity of the lighthouse as a landmark caused the Lighthouse Board to reconsider their plan and to erect temporary measures to hold back the sea. Later, local residents raised two thousand dollars to construct permanent jetties to protect the lighthouse.

In 1926, Barnegat Lighthouse and surrounding property were transferred from the Federal government to the State of New Jersey… to maintain this reservation for historical purposes and for the preservation of the lighthouse tower. The lighthouse was decommissioned and replaced by the Barnegat Lightship in 1927. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park opened to the public in 1957.

A bust of General George G. Meade was unveiled at the dedication ceremony in honor of his distinguished service during the Civil War as the Commanding General of Federal troops at the Battle of Gettysburg and for his role at Barnegat Lighthouse.

The bust of General George G. Meade in front of the lighthouse entrance

Today, the beloved Barnegat Lighthouse is shining again thanks to the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park who purchased a new lens that casts a single beam visible up to 22 nautical miles. The new light was illuminated at a ceremony on January 1, 2009 exactly 150 years to the day that it was originally lit in 1859 with over 1200 people witnessing the lighthouse becoming an official aid to navigation once again.

The lighthouse and the park in its glory

(This information comes from a combination of the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park pamphlet and website/Wiki-I give them full credit for the information provided).

Doo Wop Preservation League Museum          4500 Ocean Avenue                                 Wildwood, NJ 08260

Doo Wop Preservation League Museum 4500 Ocean Avenue Wildwood, NJ 08260

Doo Wop Preservation League Museum

4500 Ocean Avenue

Wildwood, NJ  08260

(609) 523-1975

https://www.facebook.com/Doo-Wop-Preservation-League-The-Wildwoods-NJ-128130849267/

Open: Friday-Saturday 10:00am-2:00pm/ Closed Sunday-Thursday

Fee: Free but they ask for a donation

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46931-d283304-Reviews-The_Doo_Wop_Preservation_League_Museum-Wildwood_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I visited the Doo Wop Preservation League Museum when I was visiting Wildwood, NJ for the Firemen’s Convention. They were sponsoring the DJ on the stage behind the museum. It was easy to miss the museum with all the fire equipment around it and hundreds of firemen milling around.

Once inside, this small museum is a treasure trove of history of the resort motels that once lined the beaches of Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood. As time rolls on, many of these old motels, hotels and restaurants are giving way to condos, newer homes and new chain hotels changing the landscape of Wildwood. It is bringing it into modern times with newer looks.

Doo Wop Museum IV.jpg

The restaurant section of the Doo Wop Museum

When many of these motels are torn down, the establishments donate old furnishes, decorative objects and signs from the outside to the museum. The outside of the museum is decorated with signs of businesses that are now closed, there neon lights still shining but for a different purpose. These somewhat gaudy and over-grandised signs and looks were of a time of great optimism and travel. Since the middle and working class families did not have the money to travel to these exotic places, something similar was created for them in the Wildwoods bringing that look to the Jersey shore.

Doo Wop Museum II

The restaurant section of the Doo Wop Museum

When talking to the curators , a couple that ran the museum said that the museum represents the change in d├ęcor used after WWII when they used the neon lights and steel from the war into the signs and lighting of the new resorts. It was a unique style of the late 1950’s and 60’s, when these materials were plentiful and motel owners were getting creative to bring in the rising middle class tourists that could not afford the trips to Hawaii and Miami Beach. These owners brought these themes to Wildwood with a creative twist. Check out the signing and furniture that lines the walls and dining set ups of the museum.

The museum is small and takes only about an hour to walk through. Each of the vignettes are designed as its own room with furnishings from old hotels and motels like tables, chairs, lamps and ashtrays in one corner, in another are stools, a jukebox and menus from a 50’s or 60’s style restaurant or items used at the time like bicycles or scooters.

Doo Wop Museum III

The interesting preservation by the museum shows all over

The History of the Doo Wop Museum:

The Doo Wop Preservation League was founded in 1997 as a 501C3 to preserve  the 1950’s and 60’s architectural styles of the Wildwood’s. Doo Wop style is a combination of Space Age dreams of the late 60’s and the exotic seaside tropics of recently opened South Seas Islands  like Hawaii which became out 50th State in 1959.  The Polynesian look was very ‘in’ at this time as most people could not afford to go but wanted to replicated for them.

The museum is housed in the 1960’s ‘Space Age’ restaurant “The Surfside” that was saved from the wrecking ball and moved to this spot right across the Convention Center and the Boardwalk. On Tuesdays and Thursdays when in season (i.e. Warmer Months), there are bus tours offered by the museum. The museum’s goal is catalogue the remaining businesses in town that still keep their look of the era (Museum website and The Wildwooder Newspaper).

Don’t miss the museum tours:

The best part is that the museum is free (donation suggested) and you can take your time for a self-guided tour of the museum.

World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial  Sunset Boulevard Lower Township near Cape May Point, NJ 08204

World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial Sunset Boulevard Lower Township near Cape May Point, NJ 08204

World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial

Sunset Boulevard

Lower Township near Cape May Point, NJ 08204

(609) 884-5404/(800) 275-4278

http://www.capemaymac.org

https://www.capemaymac.org/world-war-ii-lookout-tower

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

Fee:  Adults $6.00, the first child free with paying adult and the next child $3.00 (3-12)/Veterans $3.00/Active Military Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d2256593-Reviews-World_War_II_Lookout_Tower-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

The World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial is an interesting look of how our armed forces used these towers to watch the coastlines for U-boats and enemy ships during the war. Several German submarines were spotted along the coasts of New York and New Jersey during the war and the threat of attack was uncertain. As the war progressed on though, we found that this was a war being fought in the air and these towers were actually obsolete by the end of the war.

World War II Lookout Tower.jpg

The World War II Tower

The tower is very interesting and very easy to climb. Don’t let the height fool you, there are only about a 100 stairs with landings on all three levels with displays on them.  The bottom level has a gift shop and display pictures of the history of the tower. The second level has shots of veterans of the wars before when the were enlisted and today (when they were much older). There were a lot of local veterans to the Cape May area.

World War II Tower

World War II Tower pictures

The top level was manned by a docent who talked about the history of the tower, provided pictures of the area before and after World War II and the role it played during the war. She discussed the only ship attack since Pearl Harbor was right off the coast of New Jersey as well as the ‘Blackouts’ that were conducted in town to stymie any attacks.

World Warr II Tower.jpg

World War II Tower

Take time to look over all the displays and pictures and the role Cape May had in the war to help protect the East Coast.

 

History of the World War II Lookout Tower Museum & Memorial:

 

Why is Fire Control Tower No. 23 administered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC):

Like the Cape May Lighthouse, Fire Control Tower No. 23 is owned by the State of New Jersey (specifically the Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks). As was the case with the Lighthouse, the State lacks the funds to restore and operate these historic structures. Instead it has leased them to the area’s leading cultural and historic preservation organization, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). Founded in 1970, MAC saved and restored the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate and operates it as Cape May’s only Victorian house museum. Starting in 1986, MAC spent 15 years (and some $2 million) on the restoration of the Cape May Lighthouse.

In 2004, MAC signed a 20 year lease for Fire Control Tower No. 23. After raising one million dollars (from the New Jersey Historic Trust, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, a Small Cities Block Grant administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and Lower Township and a Save America’s Treasures Grant administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior), MAC restored the Tower in 2008-09 and opened it to the public in April 2009. MAC is also mounting permanent Memorial Plaques in the Tower that will allow family members to honor veterans of any war or engagement.

(This information was taken from the World War II Lookout Tower pamphlet proved by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities)

Was Fire Control Tower No. 23 used for spotting fires?

No, it was used for spotting enemy ships during World War II and aiming guns to fire on them.

This Fire Tower was part of Fort Miles. So, where was Fort Miles anyway?

Fort Miles was never a building. It was a number of fire control towers, gun batteries plus barracks and support buildings on both sides of Delaware Bay. By World War II, the military used a spread-out series of towers and batteries, whose firing ranges overlapped to protect a large territory. Its largest guns and headquarters were located on the Delaware side (in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park), since the shipping channel hugs the Southern shore of Delaware Bay.

Were there any other Fire Control Towers?

Yes, there were originally 15 concrete fire control towers, 11 on the Delaware side and four here in New Jersey. Of the four in New Jersey, the ones in North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest have been destroyed, while the one on Beach Avenue in Cape May has been engulfed by the Grand Hotel (with only its top visible, sticking above the roof). One of the towers in Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware has been restored and opened to the public.

Were there any naval battles in the Delaware Bay?

No. German submarines sank many merchant vessels off the coast of Cape May but no German ships ever got up the Delaware River to attack the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia or Camden.

Was Fire Control Tower No 23 built here or prefabricated?

The Fire Control was built here in June, 1942 by using a sliding tube shaped form.  A ring of reinforced concrete was poured. When that solidified, the form was slid up and more concrete was poured. The whole Tower was formed this way except for the top, which required a form of its own. The whole process took only two and a half days.

Was the Cape May area important during World War II?

Yes, the Cape May area was a beehive of military activity during World War II. Cape May harbor had a Naval Air Station, a Coast Guard base and an airport. Naval Air Station Wildwood (where the County Airport is now) trained aircraft carrier pilots. Cape May Shipbuilders on Wilson Drive, where the Cape May Whale Watcher is now, built Navy tugboats and dredges. The Northwest Magnesite plant, which made an ingredient used in firebricks for steel mills, was located across Sunset Boulevard from Fire Control Tower No. 23.

(This information was taken from the World War II Tower pamphlet and I give them full credit for it.)