Then and Now
Today’s “Then and Now” features 19 Ocean Avenue:
It was a September Saturday in 1899. Elizabeth Wood, a widow who summered annually in Ocean Grove, drove her handsome horse-drawn phaeton into the heart of OG to run some errands. She parked in front of Perrine and Jackson’s Meat Market on Heck Avenue and went about her business.
What is a phaeton? Popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the phaeton was the sports car of its day. Drawn by one or two horses, the phaeton was a light, open carriage on four wheels.
But while she was gone, her skittish horse grew uneasy in the presence of a dog and started bucking and kicking. By the time the horse had been soothed, the phaeton was completely destroyed.
The demolished phaeton would certainly have been an inconvenience for her, but not the end of the world. Elizabeth Wood was a well-to-do woman and no doubt she was able to replace her phaeton in short order.
Just nine years earlier, she’d purchased oceanfront property in Ocean Grove from James Black – specifically, lots 600 and 601, and parts of lots 598 and 599. She paid $7,000. It was on this plot that she built her summer home, which still stands today at 19 Ocean Avenue. (She made changes to her home and possibly expanded it in 1894.)
When she wasn’t summering in Ocean Grove, Elizabeth Wood lived in a beautiful row house mansion in Harlem. The building still stands today at 14 Mt. Morris Park West, between 121st and 122nd streets. In 2009, a nearly identical house just one door down was on the market for $8 million. The web site Curbed.com provides a floor plan and interior photos of 12 Mt. Morris Park West, which will give you an idea of what it was like to be Mrs. Wood in the off-season living at #14.
Elizabeth Wood was known for being generous with her wealth and made many charitable gestures, both big and small, to the people and organizations that mattered to her. For example, the Ocean Grove Record newspaper tells us that in August of 1906, Mrs. Wood paid for her friends Mrs. J.N. Fitzgerald and Mrs. A.H. DeHaven to become lifetime members of the Ocean Grove auxiliary of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society. She was also a member of the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf, was active with the New York House of Refuge for wayward girls on Randall’s Island, and was a vice president of the New York City Indian Association, the aims of which were “to awaken and strengthen, by every means in its power, that Christian public sentiment which shall aid our Government in its present policy of granting citizenship to Indians, and the same protection of law enjoyed by other races among us”, and “To aid in the support of suitable missionaries and instructors to reside among the Indians, to labor for their industrial, political, moral and religious education”. (The “Indians” the organization sought to Christianize were native Americans.)
Upon her death from pneumonia in April 1907, Elizabeth Wood endowed a parcel of property to Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church of Harlem — three buildings at Second Avenue and 118th Street. She was 75 years old and died at home in New York. She’s buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Elizabeth Wood probably willed her Ocean Grove house to one of her siblings. She had at least two brothers – John and William Laird. In the Ocean Grove Times of April 5, 1913, it’s noted that “Mrs. H. Murgatroyd, of New York City, who recently bought the Laird cottage at the corner of Main and Ocean Avenues, over Sunday last entertained a party of Newark friends.” It seems Mrs. Murgatroyd (“Hettie”) named the cottage “The Bellaire” (also seen spelled as “Belaire”). According to her great-granddaughter Cindy, Mrs. Murgatroyd sold the house when her husband was away during World War I.
By 1937 the house had become the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. S. Walter Stauffer of York, PA. Mr. Stauffer had been engaged in the manufacture of lime, crushed stone and refractory dolomite from 1916 to 1936, and went on to serve as a U.S. Congressman from 1953-55 and again in 1957-59. According to his granddaughter Salome who made a recent visit to Centennial Cottage, Ocean Grove was where her grandparents fell in love. It’s no wonder they chose to make their summer home in a place that held such sweet memories.
Today, 19 Ocean Avenue is still a private residence. The current owners call the property “Strandvue”.
If you like this story, you’ll like Then and Now: Lane Villa.
Funding provided by the New Jersey Historical Commission.
Today’s “Then and Now” features The Broadmoor:
In the late 19th century, Ocean Grove, New Jersey was teeming with lady business owners, most of whom presided over hotels and guest houses. One of those ladies was Elizabeth Sherman Moore.
Miss Moore owned The Broadmoor Hotel at the corner of Central Avenue and Broadway. As early as 1881, the property belonged to her married sister Emogen Hewson, but at some point ownership was transferred to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Moore seems to have enjoyed being a businesswoman. In March of 1889, she decided to expand her holdings and contracted with the firm of Carman & Holbrook to build two more houses, which she would later call the Holly and Laurel Cottages. It cost her $3,500.
The “Carman” of Carman & Holbrook was William H. Carman: Civil War veteran, Freemason, Democrat, and builder/architect whose firm erected many of the earliest homes and hotels in Ocean Grove.
Now I can’t help but wonder what Miss Moore thought about her hired contractor. Did she find Mr. Carman handsome? As she chatted with him over cottage blueprints, did she blush?
Ah, but what did it matter? He was a married man, after all.
But as fate would have it, in 1894, Mr. Carman’s wife passed away. She had been ailing for several years.
Four years later, on Christmas Day, a wedding took place in the parlor at The Broadmoor — that of William H. Carman to the landlady herself, Elizabeth S. Moore.
While the second Mrs. Carman enjoyed life as a hotelier, Mr. Carman’s business thrived. He was also appointed aide-de-camp on the staff of Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic for the department of New Jersey, and was appointed as a member of the election board in Ocean Grove. He was known to speak to schoolchildren about his time in the Civil War and loved walking alongside his fellow vets on parade.
He also found time to champion the cause of introducing gaslight to Ocean Grove. He felt it was necessary for the advancement of Ocean Grove, and was quick to remind folks that it was cheaper than electric lights.
Carman was the kind of guy you’d like to have for a neighbor. Mr. W.J. Cramer would certainly know. Late one January night in 1896, he was cooking up some kind of turpentine concoction in the kitchen of 107 Embury Avenue when the substance caught fire. Cramer tried to throw the pot out the back door, but instead he wound up dropping it and soon the kitchen woodwork was in flames. Luckily for Mr. Cramer, William Carman was just two doors down. Carman rushed in with a bucket of water and helped douse the flames.
Never a dull moment in Ocean Grove for Mr. or Mrs. Carman!
William H. Carman died in 1916 and Elizabeth Moore Carman in 1918. Several years before her death, Mrs. Carman had become a semi-invalid due to a fall and a fractured hip, and it seems The Broadmoor passed into the care of a Mrs. M.H. Hennig. Here’s an ad from The Ocean Grove Times of July 6, 1916, trumpeting Mrs. Hennig’s skill in the kitchen:
Like Mrs. Hennig, future owners of The Broadmoor would keep its name, although sometimes with slight variations (like the Broadmoor “Inn” of 1932). Eventually it would become, and stay, a private residence.
Funding has been provided by the New Jersey Historical Commission.
We’re starting a new feature here on the HSOG blog. We’re calling it “Then and Now”. In each “Then and Now” post, we’ll share a vintage image of some spot in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, juxtaposed against a photo of the same spot today.
We’re kicking it off with photos of Lane Villa at 63 Cookman Avenue:
A structure as magnificent as the 63 Cookman Avenue of the 1890s surely has a story to tell. I don’t know what year the house was built, but I do know it operated as a guest house under the name “Lane Villa” as early as November 19, 1892, when it was mentioned in the Ocean Grove Record.
Jacob Lane and his wife Sarah Ann Middlesworth Lane came to Ocean Grove, New Jersey from Newark, where Jacob ran a merchant tailoring business at 506 Broad Street for over thirty years. According to a 19th century clipping from Blogfinger, it was Mr. Lane’s failing health that brought the couple to Ocean Grove. The seaside was thought to be healing, and Ocean Grove’s popularity as a resort town offered the Lanes an opportunity to make a living as many others did, operating a guest house.
The Lanes had five children, including two daughters, Mae and Laura, who relocated to Ocean Grove with their parents. I’m taking a guess that Mrs. Lane and her daughters did most of the work at Lane Villa, considering Jacob’s poor health. It’s not surprising to note that Mrs. Lane’s name appears in newspaper advertisements for Lane Villa as the proprietor. Looks like Sarah was the boss lady.
It seems the Lane ladies were well-suited to running a guest house. They kept Lane Villa open year-round and often entertained in the off-season. One would think tending to guests during a bustling Ocean Grove summer would be enough to send anyone to their bed for another eight months. But the Lanes thrived on providing hospitality. For example, in November of 1892, they held “An olde time sociable” to raise money for the building of a bridge over Fletcher Lake. Tickets were ten cents, “sweetmeats extra”. Mae and Laura were still playing hostess as late as 1923, when their Hallowe’en party made the front page of the Ocean Grove Times.
If the Lanes hadn’t enjoyed running a guest house, they probably wouldn’t have inspired such affection in their guests. There was at least one family that returned to Lane Villa year after year. In the early part of the 20th century, the Weeks family of Newark — Wilbur, his wife, and their two daughters, May and Edna — spent their summers in Ocean Grove, always at Lane Villa. Perhaps they’d known the Lanes in Newark. They knew them well enough to be in attendance at Jacob Lane’s 81st birthday party at Lane Villa in May 1911.
Those summers in Ocean Grove made quite an impression on young May and Edna Weeks. Perhaps as they watched Mae and Laura Lane assisting their parents in the running of Lane Villa, they envied them, even imagined themselves in their place. While it was undoubtedly hard work, there must have been something idyllic about operating Lane Villa, because May and Edna purchased it from the Lanes in 1935. In doing so, they may have been fulfilling a girlhood dream. A newspaper article of that year reports that the Weeks daughters, since married, were calling themselves “the firm of Cottrell and Grammer” (that is, Mrs. Mae Weeks Cottrell and Mrs. Edna Weeks Grammer). They continued to run the guest house, still called Lane Villa, throughout 1935, as newspaper ads of that year show the proprietors as “Cottrell and Grammer”. However, they didn’t advertise in the Ocean Grove newspaper after 1935. Lane Villa was still acknowledged as the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Grammer (Mrs. Grammer being Edna Weeks Grammer) as late as 1942.
The Lane sisters stayed in Ocean Grove upon selling to the Weeks sisters, Cottrell and Grammer. The November 24, 1950 edition of the Ocean Grove Times reports Laura Lane celebrating her 90th birthday at home with her sister at 75 1/2 Mt. Pisgah Way.
A relative of the Lanes wrote to Paul Goldfinger of Blogfinger in 2013 and shared some photos and family anecdotes (definitely worth a look). Goldfinger wrote that, “According to family lore, the sisters lost the Villa sometime in the 1930’s ‘to a shady lawyer.’” In fact, it seems it was the Weeks sisters (Cottrell and Grammer) who lost Lane Villa, and probably to one Ross R. Beck, Esquire who advertised his business at 63 Cookman as early as 1951, and as late as 1959. (I don’t know if Beck was “shady”, but now that the suggestion’s been put in my head, I find myself imagining that he’s the villain who removed the second-story porch and all that wonderful gingerbread!)
Today 63 Cookman Avenue is divided into apartments.
Funding has been provided by the New Jersey Historical Commission.