Sea Isle Museum
4800 Central Avenue
Sea Isle, NJ 08243
My review on TripAdvisor:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.