Category: Walking Avalon, NJ

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.

Ocean City Historical Museum                          1735 Simpson Avenue                                              Ocean City, NJ 08226

Ocean City Historical Museum 1735 Simpson Avenue Ocean City, NJ 08226

Ocean City Historical Museum

1735 Simpson Avenue

Ocean City, MD 08226

(609) 339-1801

https://www.ocnjmuseum.org/

https://www.facebook.com/ocnjmuseum/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46696-d15122158-Reviews-Ocean_City_Historical_Museum-Ocean_City_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

The entrance to the museum is inside the Municipal Building and Library 1735 Simpson Avenue

I made a trip to many of the beach towns at the Jersey Shore recently visiting the small historical societies that explain the history and development of these small towns. It is amazing to see how they have developed in just 150 years from Native American fishing villages to thriving vacation spots and permanent residential districts. Ocean City, NJ itself has an interesting history.

As you enter the museum from the back of the library, you are warmly greeted by a docent who will explain the museum to you. Then you will follow a semicircle through the exhibitions in a genealogical order from when the town was founded to modern times and events.

The first exhibition is called “From Hunting Ground to the Modern Resort:

The early history from the time the Native Americans used the shore line for fishing and hunting to the history of the Miller family who owned parts of the island. The exhibit explained how the Miller family owned this section the island and how it was developed. These were the early years of the island until the coming of the Methodist colony.

The second Exhibition was “The Founders and the Early Years”:

In 1879, four Methodist ministers came to Ocean City to develop a Summer Colony and resort for their members based on Christian values. This lead to the development of the “Blue Laws” in which some traces are found today. The displays discussed the how the resort moved into modern times and how this development shaped the resort as it is today. There are interesting pictures of the development of the Camp in the turn of the last century.

The Boardwalk display

The third Exhibition was “The Boardwalk”:

The development of the first Boardwalk in 1887 to give access to the shoreline lead to early development around it. You could follow the developments of many versions of the Boardwalk over the years due to storms and development. There were displays of old movie theaters that used to dot the Boardwalk along with other family businesses that opened over the years. Old hotels that have since closed or being used for other uses had their histories told. The Flanders Hotel’s history was displayed.

The forth Exhibition was “The Sindia”:

The Sindia was a shipwreck off the coast of Ocean City that ran aground in 1901. It still lies off the coast but many of the artifacts of the wreck are displayed here. There is all sorts of bottles, dishware and other household and decorative items displayed here. There is also an interesting display of model ships.

The last Exhibition was on actress Grace Kelly and her family:

Princess and Actress Grace Kelly used to vacation with her family in Ocean City from the time she was a little girl until her death. I never realized that her father was an Olympic Rower and used to row at the Jersey Shore. Her brother was a lifeguard for the town as well. There are all sorts of family pictures of her and her siblings growing up here. What I thought was interesting was she bought her royal family to the Jersey shore to vacation with her family and there were pictures before she passed enjoying her time here. That I thought was very interesting that she never forgot her roots.

The Grace Kelly exhibition

Don’t miss their nice gift shop that has all sorts of decorative items and jellies and honey.

History of the Museum:

(from the Museum’s Website)

The Ocean City Historical Museum is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 corporation established in April of 1964. It was created by a group of enthusiastic volunteers with the support of the local government. The purpose of the Museum is to preserve the city’s history for future generations for both visitors and residents.

The first museum was located on the first floor of the old elementary school at 409 Wesley Avenue. It was only open during the summer of its first full year, as the building was still being used as a school. In July of 1965, it was opened for year round visitors when the school moved to its new location. The museum moved to its current location at the Ocean City Community Center at 1735 Simpson Avenue in 1990.

Mission:

The mission of the Ocean City Historical Museum is to delight, inspire and educate the public about the story of Ocean City, NJ and to collect, preserve and promote items relevant to its heritage, traditions and memories.

Vision: The Vision of the Ocean City Historical Museum is to be an inviting, informative and innovative community resource that is recognized and respected as the place for exploring and celebrating the rich history and heritage of Ocean City, NJ.

Stone Harbor Museum                                                           9410 Second Avenue                                                              Stone Harbor, NJ 08247

Stone Harbor Museum 9410 Second Avenue Stone Harbor, NJ 08247

Stone Harbor Museum

9410 Second Avenue

Stone Harbor, NJ 08247

(609) 368-7500

https://stoneharbormuseum.org/

https://www.facebook.com/stoneharbormuseum/

My review on TripAdvisor”

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46850-d12832764-Reviews-Stone_Harbor_Museum-Stone_Harbor_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

The entrance to the Stone Harbor Museum at 9410 Second Avenue

On a recent trip to the Jersey Shore, I took an long drive down the coastline visiting small historical museums of the shore towns and they gave me an interesting perspective of how these towns were developed from the time of Native American fishing and hunting villages to the advent of railroads and Victorian hotels to the modern development of the town today. Stone Harbor, NJ has had an interesting path since its development in the late 1800’s.

The Stone Harbor Museum was founded in 1996 by a group of involved residents who wanted to showcase their town’s history. The current museum was opened in 2016 and has many different exhibitions going on, some permanent and others are seasonal and keep rotating within the museum. When you walk in, the museum is divided by sections and displays of their museum.

Leading into the entrance, there was a very interesting exhibit on “9/11” for the Twentieth Anniversary of the event by a Chief from the Stone Harbor Fire Department. It was a series of articles from local and national papers, some artifacts and information on the fire service. It was a very touching reminder of what fire fighters did that horrible day.

There were many displays on the history of Stone Harbor with the Stone Harbor School System and the Borough of Stone Harbor exhibiting artifacts. Interesting pictures and items of the Stone Harbor Beach Patrol were proudly displayed which I noticed from my many stops at various historical societies on the Jersey Shore is very much a part of the town culture. These teams take their competitions amongst the towns very seriously with events like boating and swimming.

There were many pictures of old homes at a time when the town was a Victorian beach resort and people came to the Jersey shore for extended vacations. You could see the progression of the town over a century from a seaside resort to a permanent residential town. The architecture has significantly changed over the years to slightly smaller homes but no less impressive all over the town.

There were extensive pictures and displays of the importance of the rail system and the role it played in the growth of the area and to all shore communities. Its history pretty much ended with the advent of the Model T and the growth of cars to the Jersey shore. Soon the modern highways made the rail system obsolete.

Ladies at the shore enjoying a ride

Still there are many displays of ‘fun in the sun’ and the growth of beach activities and recreation with the growth of sun bathing, swimming, boating and fishing. People’s leisure time was growing and the Jersey shore filled their time with sun bathing and swimming. The changes of attitude in swimwear have been tremendous especially from the one piece and hats to the modern bikini in just 80 years.

Swimwear at the turn of the last century

There were pictures and artifacts from various shipwrecks off the coast of the town. It showcased the maritime history of the town and of the Jersey shore in general. It showed the importance of the town in a era of trade that is long gone. This shipping lines too became obsolete as rail service replaced them.

There was a interesting collection of items entitled Church and Faith of all the churches in the town that played such a important role in the social life of the turn of the last century. This was a time before TV, radio, the advent of movies and especially the Internet. This was at time when people’s social life revolved the social life of places of worship.

In the center of the museum there is an extensive library with shelves lined with notebooks full of pictures and historical details neatly bound. This is the records of the town and the citizens who have lived here over the years.

On top of the 9/11 exhibition, another interesting exhibition was entitled “The Residents of 81st Street”, on the history of the Black community of the town at the turn of the last century. This was a thriving middle class community that there own social life as well their contributions to the town of Stone Harbor.

The one thing I liked about the museum is that it does not overwhelm you when you are visiting. The exhibits are detailed but compact. You learn a lot about the town with enough information and artifacts but you can still enjoy the display in about twenty minutes to about a half hour. The whole museum takes about an hour to two hours to visit maybe more if you are really enjoying yourself.

The staff could not have been nicer and take such pride in the museum. The afternoon I visited the museum one of the long time residents who volunteers at the museum was able to share her knowledge of the town. For a small town, it is chockful of interesting history.

The Stone Harbor Museum History:

(from their website and pamphlets)

The Mission:

To acquire, preserve, display, celebrate and promote archival and artifact items relevant to the development of our unique cultural heritage and to delight, inspire and educate the present and future generations about the story of Stone Harbor, NJ.

The Vision:

To be inviting, informative and innovative community resource that is recognized and respected as the place for exploring and celebrating rich cultural heritage of Stone Harbor, NJ.

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).