Tag: Exploring Wildwood 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.

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 décor 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.

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse                                              111 North Central Avenue                                         North Wildwood, NJ 08260

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse 111 North Central Avenue North Wildwood, NJ 08260

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse

111 North Central Avenue

North Wildwood, NJ  08260

(609) 522-4520

http://www.herefordlighthouse.org

Open:

Mid May through October-Seven days a week: 9:00am-5:00pm

November through mid-May: Thursday-Sunday: 10:00am-1:00pm

*Days and hours may change without notice during these off-season months. Please call ahead to check on updates.

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46686-d532246-Reviews-Hereford_Inlet_Lighthouse-North_Wildwood_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Hereford Lighthouse Museum

I visited the Hereford Lighthouse Museum recently (See my review on TripAdvisor) and toured the building and grounds. It was three floors of vintage furnishings, artifacts from the nautical era and the items from a working lighthouse, past and present.

There was an interesting display of ship wrecks and their history, the role of lighthouses in New Jersey and their past and an interesting storyboard of the lighthouse keepers and the families that lived there at all stages of the history of the lighthouse.

The Hereford Victorian Lighthouse Museum and Gardens is a working lighthouse as well as a museum. Visitors will learn about the historic structure’s history and get a glimpse into the life of a lighthouse keeper in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Hereford Lighthouse Museum).

Nestled into one of the most scenic settings in the State, the lighthouse overlooks the picturesque Hereford Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. A park surrounding the building overflows with numerous flower gardens that have won many awards. Benches, a gazebo and a seawall observation deck allow visitors to linger and take in all the beauty (Hereford Lighthouse Museum).

There is a gift shop located on the first floor of the lighthouse.

History of the Lighthouse:

Historic and picturesque Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, a beacon of safety and assurance to the 19th century mariners, has become a cherished landmark for residents and visitors of this seashore resort community.

The Lighthouse is situated on the south side of the Hereford Inlet, which leads from the Atlantic Ocean to the famed Intra-Coastal Waterway linking Maine to Florida. First used by the 17th century whalers to haul in and butcher their catches, the Inlets use as a haven to mariners greatly increases as travel and shipping along the coast became more prevalent.

Strong currents and shifting sandbars near the entrance to the Inlet caused frequent groundings and shipwrecks. Because of this, in 1849, a Life Saving Station was constructed along the south bank of the Hereford Inlet. A second, larger station replaced this in 1871, the time of the creation of the United States Life Saving Service. As the use of the Inlet and coastal shipping continued to increase, so did the number of shipwrecks. It became obvious that a Lighthouse was needed to mark the mouth of the Inlet.

On June 10th, 1872, Congress enacted legislation to finance the purchase of land and the construction of a fourth order Lighthouse. The site chosen held a prominent position on the dune area overlooking the approach to the Inlet.

Construction bean on the uninhabited barrier island on November 8, 1873 and was completed on March 30, 1874. This wood frame residential style Lighthouse was designed by the Lighthouse Boards Chief Draftsman, Paul J. Pelz. His Victorian era design is referred to as Swiss Carpenter Gothic and also Stick Style.

Hereford is the only Lighthouse like it on the East Coast although it had five sister lights on the West. Pelz designed Point Fermin, East Brother, Mare Island and Point Hueneme in California and Point Adams in Washington State. All of these were almost identical to Hereford and were built about the same time. Only Point Fermin and East Brother still exist.

Paul Pelz would later garner world wide fame as the designer of the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

On May 11, 1874, a Notice to Mariners formally announced the start of operation of the Light. The fixed white light was located at latitude 39 degrees and longitude 74 degrees, 47 minutes. The tower height is 49 1/2 feet with the light elevation rising to 57 feet above sea level. The light is visible at a distance of 13 nautical miles.

John Marche was the first Lighthouse Keeper. He was in the post less than three months when he drowned when his boat capsized while returning to the mainland. He was replaced by a young man from Cape May Court House, Freeling Hysen Hewitt.

Freeling was a civil war veteran and a former merchant seaman. He would stay on as the keeper of the Light for the next 45 years. Freeling was considered a Pioneer of the island and among his many contributions, held the first formal religious services to occur in the Wildwood’s, in the Lighthouse parlor.

In 1888, a third larger Bibb#2 style Life Style Station was constructed three hundred feet Northwest of the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse Service and the Life Saving Service were both run by the Department of the Treasury but were separate organization. They were, however, both in the business of saving lives. The Lighthouse by warning and the Life Saving Service by rescue.

Hereford stood firm against the onslaught of the winds, rains and tides for 40 years at its original location. A severe storm in August of 1913 significantly damaged the foundation, requiring it to be moved westward 150 feet to where it sits today.

In 1915 the Coast Guard absorbed the duties of the U.S. Life Saving Service. A larger building was needed and in 1939 the modern Roosevelt Style Coast Guard Station was constructed. This Station also had a boathouse and a maintenance garage. These are the white buildings just north of the Lighthouse. 1939 was also the year that the Coast Guard took over control of the Lighthouse Service.

For the next 25 years the Hereford Lighthouse continue in operation. By the early 1960’s the Coast Guard began to automatize many of its many of its lighthouses. In 1964 this was the fate of Hereford when an automatic rotating modern optic was placed on an iron skeletal tower behind the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse was closed as was the Coast Guard Station next door. The entire property was transferred to the control of the New Jersey State Marine Police. The Police made use of the Coast Guard Buildings but the Lighthouse was boarded up and left to deteriorate for the next 18 years.

In 1982 through the long and painstaking efforts of Mayor Anthony Catanoso and his wife, Phyllis, a lease was signed Whereby the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection turns over the stewardship of the Lighthouse to the City of North Wildwood.

Restoration of the neglected building was immediately begun. After only ten months of intense work, on July 1, 1983, a portion of the restored building was opened to the public. Hundreds of public spirited citizens who helped raise funds for the restoration and contributed time, talent, energy and materials were on hand to celebrate the official reopening of the historic landmark for public use.

In 1986, the modern automated light was removed from the iron tower and placed in the Lighthouse lantern room making it a fully functional aid to navigation once again.

Efforts were then begun to also create a museum in the Lighthouse. The interior of the building was furnished with period antiques, educational displays and lighthouse memorabilia. The 4th order Fresnel Lens was also restored and placed on display on the 2nd floor of the Lighthouse.

A project to improve the sandy, barren grounds into a park was undertaken by Superintendent of Parks Steve Murray, who designed the Park along with its many garden areas.

Finally an authentic restoration of the entire Lighthouse was begun in 1998 and as with many old, historic structures is always a work in progress. Grants awarded by the New Jersey Historic Trust and the N.J. Department of Transportation have helped finance this work.

The Hereford Lighthouse is listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places. It is also part of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.

Keepers of The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse:

John Marche: 1874

John Nickerson: 1874

Freeling Hewitt: 1874-1919

William Hedges: 1919-1925

Laura Hedges: 1925-1926

Ferdinand Heizman: 1926-1939

Robert O’Neil: 1939-1942

George Baker: 1945-1955

Newman Bowden: 1955-1959

Bruce Bolon: 1960-1961

Disclaimer: This information was taken from the Hereford Lighthouse History website and I give the museum full credit for this information. Please call ahead before visiting in the off-season to see when the museum is open. It is a fascinating piece of New Jersey history.

The Wildwood Historical Society George F. Boyer Museum                                                                      3907 Pacific Avenue                                  Wildwood, NJ 08260

The Wildwood Historical Society George F. Boyer Museum 3907 Pacific Avenue Wildwood, NJ 08260

The Wildwood Historical Society George F. Boyer Museum

3907 Pacific Avenue

Wildwood, NJ  08260

(609) 523-0277

http://www.z.com

Open: Sunday-Saturday-9:00am-2:00pm/Check with the museum in the off season

Fee: Free but they do ask for a donation

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46931-d1862508-Reviews-George_F_Boyer_Historical_Museum-Wildwood_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I visited the Wildwood Historical Society George F. Boyer Museum (See review on TripAdvisor) when I was visiting Wildwood, NJ for a convention. It was a gloomy morning and the museum is open from 9:00am-2:00pm. It is the perfect place to visit on a rainy day at the beach.

The museum is a treasure trove of artifacts of the history of the three towns, North Wildwood, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest. The history covers the original inhabitants when the Native Americans lived and fished in the area, the rise as a resort community especially its heyday in the 1950’s and 60’s as a solid middle class resort town and a extensive history of the police, fire department and schools as well as the town and its council people.

Wildwood Historical Museum

The Wildwood Historical Society at 3907 Pacific Avenue

Each room of the museum is stacked with information, artifacts in case lines and the walls are lined with books, manuscripts and albums. The school history shows how integration worked even as far back as the turn of the last century and the development of the school system. There were books of graduation pictures, sporting events and band involvement.

Wildwood Museum III

The town has contributed so much to society

There is a very interesting display of fire fighting pictures especially of the amusement fires of the past and the rebuilding of the parks and piers. Take time to look at the artifacts in the hallways and pictures of the development of the parks. There are interesting pieces saved from the old parks.

There is even a section of restaurant menus and dishware from the well known establishments of the past and many pictures of the hotels and motels of the ages. It showed how it went from a Victorian resort to the modern times of the sixties theme motels with art deco architecture. There was a real change after the war to a more middle class customer who was depending on the automobile instead of the train system.

Wildwood Museum II

Popular businesses of the past

There is also a large section on the old amusement piers with pictures and artifacts from the old “Dracula’s Castle” park that burned down in the early 2000’s. There are signs, old tickets, small ride cars and prizes from the games from the piers. There is extensive detail to the display and you have to look at all the pictures of the amusements at various points of history.

Wildwood Museum

The Amusement section

Plan about two hours as you will loose track of time when looking at all the pictures and displays. It is a little packed in here but there is so much to see and take time to watch their videos which are fascinating and informative on the history of the town of Wildwood.

Who was George F. Boyer:

George F. Boyer was born in Philadelphia in 1904. He came to Wildwood around 1932 and earned his living as a butcher, a merchant and a fireman. His real local fame, however, came from his role as the City of Wildwood’s first and only official historian. While serving with Wildwood fire department in 1959, he came across the stump of a tree (now known as the “W” tree) in the old city hall.

Running down the origin of the tree, sparked a tsunami of information as he talked to local residents and researched and collected old records. One thing led to another and in January of 1962, Boyer was appointed in the city’s newly established historical commission and became the first president of the Wildwood Historical Society.

Tireless in his efforts to collect and preserve local artifacts, Boyer spoke to school and church groups as well as civic organizations, urging them to “act now..to gather those irreplaceable links with the past and preserve them for generations to come.”

Founded by Boyer, Wildwood’s first historical museum opened in 1963, on the second floor of the Municipal Building in October 1976, the City of Wildwood honored Boyer for his “long and devoted service” by renaming the museum, the George F. Boyer Historical Museum.

He passed away a month later but his legacy lives on. The museum, now located at 3907 Pacific Avenue, continues to welcome visitors and locals alike, just as it did a half century ago under Boyer’s care.

The non-profit museum is made possible thanks to volunteers who dedicate time to our cause. We always need volunteers. To learn about volunteering, drop in during our open hours, call us or fill the contact form on the website.

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the History of the Wildwood Historical Museum website and I give them full credit for the information. Remember that the museum has limited hours and the resort is seasonal so please call the above number for the times and dates when the museum is open.