Stone Harbor Museum
9410 Second Avenue
Stone Harbor, NJ 08247
My review on TripAdvisor”
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)
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.
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.