Historical Society of Ocean Grove

Exhibitions

Special

March Toward Suffrage – Summer 2019

This program includes an exhibition and presentation in celebration of the United States 100th anniversary of the nationwide women’s suffrage movement on August 18, 2020. On August 18, 1920, the right for women to vote was made legal with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The exhibition includes a brief history of the women’s suffrage movement, biographies and photographs of prominent suffragists, and a display of artwork that inspired and derided the movement. The accompanying window display includes women’s “business” attire from the early 20th century, including typically worded sashes, signs, and posters of the day. The display is complemented by an antique tea set and table, the “power lunch” for progressive women of the time. 

Note. The presentation was on August 24, 2019 The HSOG presentation celebrated the lives and contributions of five women who played a vital part in the movement. Local interpreters have brought to life the passionate words and determination of Susan B. Anthony, Victoria Woodhall, Sojouner Truth, Sarah Downs, and Alice Paul.  Each of these women followed a pathway unique to their own lives, yet in the end, they achieved their common goal of civic equality.

For related material, see the Summer 2001 Exhibition that the HSOG mounted, Carrying the Torch – The Fight for Women’s Suffrage and Ocean Grove.

Permanent

The HSOG’s permanent exhibition, History of Ocean Grove, highlights the fascinating historical, cultural, and architectural aspects of Ocean Grove:

An Ocean Grove timeline featuring historical and contemporary photographs, maps, signs, and artworks: The Beginning – 1868-1869; The Stokes Era – 1870-1897; Cultural and Intellectual Prominence; Ocean Grove is a Museum of Victorian Architecture featuring photography of architectural styles of Ocean Grove’s Period of Significance, 1869-1910; Gates Come Down 1940-1979; and Ocean Grove Today: a contemporary photography display of Ocean Grove life.

A digital exhibit, 1890 in Ocean Grove, explores what it was like to visit in the summer of 1890 (made possible with a grant from Kearny Bank). The exhibit is divided into four sections: Businesses, Boarding Houses; In the Auditorium; and Dining, Culture, and Entertainment, with computer tablet podiums.

A rotation of select objects from the collection that include fine and decorative art, historical photographs and documents, furniture, glass, silver, costumes, and personal and household cultural artifacts.

Please consider a donation to the Exhibitions Fund.

To Serve and Protect – Summer 2020

Saluting Ocean Grove Police and Firemen

This exhibition brings together the extensive firemen and police related collections of the HSOG. It provides an appreciation for all that these two service and protection departments have done for Ocean Grove throughout the Historic District’s history. The Ocean Grove Police Department was established in 1869 and operated through 1977. The Ocean Grove Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1886 and still operates today in that capacity.

The exhibition includes uniforms and components such as badges, patches, and ceremonial objects; and historical photographs. It also includes an overview of significant Ocean Grove fires in recent history. In addition, the exhibition is complemented by a collection of antique model fire trucks.

Sun, Sand, and Modesty – Summer 2019

Bathing Costumes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries

This was an exhibition of late 19th and early 20th century bathing suits that included additional period costuming, vintage photos, and other antique artifacts from the Museum’s collection. It included several items on loan from the Morris County Historical Society, Morristown, New Jersey.

Ladies, Land, Liquor, and the Lord – Summer 2016

Women in the Stokes Era: 1869 – 1897

This exhibition highlighted the unique accomplishments of women in America at a time when they were largely marginalized in society.

The Severs Women of 35 Atlantic Avenue – Summer 2015

This exhibition looked at the lives of the Severs family of Ocean Grove. In 1906, Rosella and Alonzo Severs came to Ocean Grove with their two daughters, Viola and Olive. They bought a home at 35 Atlantic Avenue and opened a small hotel, The Alonzo, and real estate and insurance businesses. The story for this exhibition and collection began when an Ocean Grove resident started renovations on her Victorian era home. She discovered in the basement boxes of personal belongings of the Severs women who occupied the property in the early 20th century.

This exhibition told a surprisingly detailed story of their lives through 19th and 20th century artifacts from the family including numerous holiday cards, correspondence between the sisters and other letters, portraits, local advertisements, sheet music, household items, clothing, vintage dresses, photographs, keepsakes, and even toiletries.

The HSOG later sold items from the collection at the HSOG Yard Sale in June 2015.

Read more from the past…

Comfortable, Friendly, & Convenient Ocean Grove - Summer 2010

The exhibition was a walk through the shops and businesses from the past and what exists today. It included an interesting collection of pictures and objects from the HSOG collection and archives.

The North End Hotel - Summer 2006

This exhibition traced the North End Hotel from its glorious beginnings, its life as a major social and gathering spot in Ocean Grove, its luxurious accommodations, and its final decline and demolition. The exhibition was filled with postcards, photographs, newspaper articles, and memorabilia from the Hotel.

During its heyday, the North End Hotel was the largest and most luxurious hostel in Ocean Grove. It boasted numerous shops and restaurants, both fresh and salt water swimming pools, bath houses, an arcade with a merry-go-round, a shooting gallery and the Strand Theatre where family movies were shown.

The North End Hotel was completed in 1911 under the supervision of foreman Alfred Clark, Ocean Grove pioneer builder. His album of photographs recording the progress of the construction is also in the HSOG archives.

In the following year the merry-go-round, penny arcade, shooting gallery, and other amusements were added along the Wesley Lake front.

The hotel had access to the beach via bridges which crossed the boardwalk and tunnels which ran under it. Opposite the hotel, on the beach side, were restaurants, open air pavilions, a tea room and bath houses. The hotel also had elevators, electricity – a rare commodity when built, and even telephones.

The Hotel suffered a fire in May 1938, but was spared from major damage. Numerous storms and hurricanes also had their effect on the edifice, especially the beach side of the Pavilion. 

The venerable hotel survived until its demolition in 1978 and the bath houses disappeared.

Surprisingly, one old relic of that era still remains. During construction, a small, one-story tool shed with a unique tent-like sloping roof stood at the northeast corner of the building. It was presumed razed or moved away when hotel construction was completed. In 1994 it was discovered that the shed had formerly been a boardwalk ticket office for summer concerts in the Great Auditorium. Well over one hundred years old, this tool shed / ticket office still survives as a Victorian cottage at 47 Heck Avenue, its sloping tent-like roof still intact.

 

The Changing Faces of Santa Claus - December 2005

This exhibition showcased vintage holiday cards depicting Santa Claus and illustrating the changes in design and artistic techniques from the late 19th century to the present. Unfortunately, the exhibition only ran for two days only on December 10 and 11 during the Victorian Holiday Festival sponsored by the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce.

New Yorkers, through their Dutch Heritage, had long promoted the Christmas Season, though it was not until 1870 that Christmas was recognized as an official public holiday by the United States Congress. Washington Irving along with other New Yorkers led a movement to transform the holiday into a family celebration concerned especially with the happiness of children. Another New Yorker, Clement Clarke Moore, is believed to have written the now famous poem The Night before Christmas, originally published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel. From this charming story the distinguishing characteristics of Santa Claus were settled. He was elfin, plump, and merry, smoked a pipe, carried a bundle of toys on his back like a “peddler” and traveled in a flying sleigh pulled by “eight tiny reindeer.” It was through the efforts of this small group of antiquarian-minded New York gentlemen, of British not Dutch descent, that transformed Sinter Klaas, the patron saint of New Amsterdam’s children, into today’s Santa Claus.

One of the most famous Christmas images to evolve from magazines in the 19th Century, are the illustrations of Santa Claus that the political cartoonist Thomas Nast created annually for Harper’s Weekly between 1863 and 1886. In the 1860s his earliest images depicted Santa Claus dressed in stars and stripes bringing gifts to the Union troops in the Civil War. Nast’s later images depicted the robust and jolly Santa Claus who became the familiar secular icon for Christmas. What many people do not realize is that Nast is also responsible for portraying Santa’s “Workshop” at the North Pole, Santa looking through his telescope “for good children,” and Santa’s account book with “a record of behavior.”

The first commercially printed holiday cards were produced in London in 1843 by John Calcott Horsley (1817-1903) who was spurred on by Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882), the director of what is now the Victoria and Albert Museum. As paper, printing, and postage costs declined, the exchange of Christmas cards quickly caught on in the United States. In 1875 the lithographer Louis Prang began producing his famous Christmas cards in Boston. Later, he started holding annual design competitions with prizes of up to $1,000. By 1882 Prang was selling close to five million cards across the country, leading Good Housekeeping in their December 1887 issue to recommend a visit to the nearest art store to see the “hundreds of cards, showing every kind and degree of artistic talent and picturing.” Prang was forced to halt production by 1890 because of the proliferation of inexpensive, mass-produced penny-post Christmas cards imported from Germany. Still today the custom of sending holiday cards has universal appeal, reflecting what Thomas Nast instinctively knew, “Christmas is the holiday for all.”

Toys of the Past - December 2005 Mini Exhibition

This unique and interesting exhibition was presented in the front display window for the enjoyment of all. Visitors delighted in viewing the toys of the past including tin toys, dolls, wooden toys, cast iron toys and books. During the 19th century many toys were used as teaching tools to prepare children for adult life. Examples were the mini Singer sewing machine on display, designed to teach a child how to sew, or dolls which taught how to care for an infant. Other teaching toys were carpentry sets, steam engines, and of course trucks, such as the wooden and tin type that were displayed.

Ocean Grove Carrying the Torch - Summer 2001

The Fight for Women’s Suffrage and Ocean Grove

This exhibition featured the Woman’s Suffrage Timeline, which was also turned into a unique online exhibition exploring the role of Ocean Grove in the Women’s Suffrage Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The founders of Ocean Grove strongly supported the Women’s Rights Movement, believing women should have the rights to work in professional fields, own property, and to vote. Many renowned leaders of the Suffrage Movement spoke in Ocean Grove including Dr. Anna H. Shaw, Mrs. Powell Bond, and Carrie Nation.

For related material, see the Summer 2001 Exhibition that the HSOG mounted, Carrying the Torch – The Fight for Women’s Suffrage and Ocean Grove.

Victorian Era in Monmouth County - Summer 1999

Photograph Collection of George Moss, official county historian

This exhibition featured original photographs of the Victorian era in Monmouth county, from the collection of George Moss, official Monmouth county historian.

Collections

Museum

Through the HSOG’s collection, we enrich the public’s understanding of the historical aspects of Ocean Grove shore living and culture. Protecting and preserving our collection for future generations is one of our greatest responsibilities. The Museum has more than 15,000 objects, cultural materials, artifacts, and pieces relative to the history of Ocean Grove, Monmouth County, and 19th century shore life.

The collection contains fine and decorative art, historical photographs and documents, furniture, glass, silver, costumes, and personal and household cultural artifacts. The Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Ocean Grove, and recording aspects of the Victorian Age.

The Museum’s Collection is also the repository for information on the Holiness Movement, the history of camp meetings, and materials on the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.

Highlights from the collection on view or in the archives include:

  • Over 1,000 history books on local and regional history, religion, and architecture.
  • Over 1,000 postcards on Ocean Grove and related areas.
  • Over 200 glass photographic negatives.
  • Hundreds of stereographs of Ocean Grove life and architecture.
  • Over 50 historic, geographic, and pictorial maps and drawings.
  • Eastlake Style bookcase, 10’ high x 13.5’ wide purchased with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Mary Skold.
  • Two portraits of Elwood Stokes, first president of the Camp Meeting Association.
  • Two New Jersey State House slant-top desks, procured by Rev. Stokes for each OGCMA Trustee.
  • Ten circa 1905 pictures that hung in the Homestead Restaurant, gift of Constance Hughes, in memory of her parents Spiros and Hope Pappaylion.
  • Numerous pieces of 19th century furniture on permanent display in the Museum and in Centennial Cottage.
  • A Silver Star Denzel carousel horse, from the North End Merry-Go-Round, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Condit. Cleaned and repaired, not fully restored so age is apparent.
  • An oil portrait of John Philip Sousa, composer and band leader, who performed in the Great Auditorium from 1910-1926.
  • Day’s Ice Cream Parlor iron ice cream molds.
  • A gold covered desk chair belonging to Rev. Elwood Stokes.
  • A Wesley Lake row boat and oar used for recreation, fishing, and as a passenger ferry, not fully restored so age is apparent. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore and Dorothy De Lauro.
  • A chandelier from the North End Hotel.
  • A North End Hotel Strand Theatre ticket receptacle.
  • Dozens of period clothing items from dresses and bathing suits to hats and uniforms, and all manner of accessories, embellishments, and jewelry.

Please consider a donation to the Acquisitions Fund.

Collection Donation Policy

Select artifact donations are accepted. We ask that you photograph and describe the item(s) you would like to donate to the HSOG, and email them to us for review at Info@OceanGroveHistory.org. We will promptly respond with potential next steps.

Architecture and Gardens

Wainright and Errickson Store

The HSOG Museum is housed in the first floor and basement of the former Wainright and Errickson Store at 50 Pitman Avenue, Ocean Grove. The story of the building is one of late 19th and early 20th century commerce and retail, household utility and tastes, and the evolving purchasing needs of residents and visitors living near the shore.

The Ocean Grove Times, March 15, 1879, includes an advertisement that  James A. Wainright and Elisha A. Errickson leased the three-story building at 50 Pitman for their dry goods, groceries, and home furnishing goods store. Previously, 50 Pitman was known as the “Old Association Store” or the “Ocean Grove General Store” operated by W.C. Jimeson.

This image from the Ocean Grove 1889 Map shows that 50-52 Pitman Avenue was originally occupied by four wood structures. The long building on the left side of the map is the Wainright and Errickson Store.

The history of the current three-story brick building begins in an Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association meeting minute from January 8, 1889: “The question of the erection of a store on the site of the present Wainright Store, Drug Store, and Goodheart’s Meat Market was considered and it was ordered . . .”

The 1890 Sanborn Map shows the building at 50-52 Pitman was built quickly and designed by architect Frank V. Bodine. One of his prominent buildings is the nearby 1886 Byram Building at 601 Mattison Avenue, Asbury Park.

The 50-52 Pitman red brick building is eclectic in style with accents of Indiana limestone and arched windows on the third floor recalling Romanesque Revival. However, the first floor storefronts originally had window frames with fanlights suggestive of the emerging Georgian Revival style. Squat finials ornamented the building’s top corners.

Wainright & Errickson renewed their lease at 50 Pitman, and according to the Ocean Grove Record, May 18, 1889, the new Store had opened. It appears that later, H.G. Shreve took over part of the building. The 1905 Sanborn Map shows a grocery store at 50 Pitman with a hardware and furniture store behind on Olin Street.  

In 1907 Charles F. Kenyon of Ocean Grove, purchased the stock and good will of the Seashore Furniture Company. He added the Store to his mattress business in the brick building on Olin Street.

Various businesses came and went over the years. Masonic Lodge 238 of Ocean Grove was chartered on April 20, 1922, and met there until relocating to Spring Lake.

Most of the building’s interiors were gutted by fire in 1926. The Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company occupied 50 Pitman at that point and their business was completely lost.

After an interior rebuild, the building was called “Masonic Hall” in local papers from 1931 to 1984. Three Masonic-related women’s groups used the building: the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, the Order of the Amaranth, and the Order of the Eastern Star.

Sky High Kites occupied 50 Pitman in the 1990s. The HSOG obtained the deed to 50 Pitman Avenue on November 5, 1997 for Block 34, Lot 1545 for $110,000.

The HSOG started a Campaign to support the expansion of the Museum and we could use your help! Please consider a donation to the Museum Expansion Campaign.

The Museum is available as an event space for small gatherings and events, including weddings. Please check our Event Space Rental page for further information.

Centennial Cottage

The HSOG maintains and hosts Centennial Cottage as its living history museum. The house was commissioned and owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Fell and built in 1884. At the time it was uncommon for married women to own real estate, however the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA) permitted married women to hold property. The Fell family of Philadelphia used the Cottage as their summer home. 

In 1969, the last owners of the Cottage, Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Mary Skold, donated the house to the OGCMA to honor the 100th anniversary of the founding of Ocean Grove, thus the name for the Cottage. They also established an endowment fund for the upkeep, maintenance, and restoration of the Cottage. Originally located at 47 Cookman Avenue, the house was moved to its current location at the corner of McClintock Street and Central Avenue.

At the time, the Skolds were concerned that Ocean Grove was losing much of its original Victorian and later period architecture to dereliction and historically inappropriate renovations. They wanted to ensure that an intact early home remained as an outstanding example.

It is a premier example of the Swiss Chalet architectural style, popular in the 19th century, reminiscent of Swiss and Bavarian Alpine Chalets. The style is one of the various Carpenter’s or Stick styles popular in the latter half of the 19th century. Ocean Grove has many fine examples of this type of architecture including the Great Auditorium. The exterior of the house has been restored to its original colors as have several of the Cottage’s rooms.

Visitors gain an understanding of 19th century Ocean Grove life in and a seaside resort community.  While no interior photographs exist in the HSOG’’s archives, many do exist of interiors from the period. These were used as reference to design and furnish the interiors with antiques that reflect Victorian culture and are historically appropriate in style to Ocean Grove’s Period of Significance, 1869-1910.

The home has a front and back parlor, or dining room, a small wing for the kitchen and three bedrooms, two of which open onto the upper porch. A third smaller room on the second floor is of undetermined use and may have housed a tin bath tub, been used as storage, or as additional sleeping quarters during Camp Meeting week when the population of the community swelled to over 15,000.

Due to its small spaces and fragile furnishings,  Centennial Cottage is not available as an event space venue.

Anna DeYoung Skold Memorial Garden

Photo Credit: Paul Goldfinger

The Anna DeYoung Skold Memorial Garden that encompasses the grounds that surround Centennial Cottage get much acclaim for its beauty and serenity. With picturesque trees, shrubs, and flowers. Some reflect the types one would find during Ocean Grove’s Period of Significance, 1869-1910.

In the past, the Cottage had an extensive Victorian garden with cutting and herb gardens, and statuary. In the 19th century, gardens were an important part of Victorian life, not only for aesthetics, but for their practical value as well. Cut flowers were used in households to mask the odors of everyday living such as from horses and livestock passing on the streets or from cooking.

Herbs were divided into three basic categories: cooking, household, and medicinal. Household herbs, such as lavender, a natural insect repellent, would be put in mattresses to discourage bed bugs and in dresser drawers to freshen clothes. Although there were pharmacies and apothecaries or chemists, medicinal herbs were still widely used and Victorian housewives knew how to brew teas, make poultices, or treat illnesses with many common herbs still found in gardens today.

In the past, the Garden has hosted events such as the Candlelight Tour and Summer Garden Party. Each year it hosts numerous children’s programs.

Please consider a donation to the Centennial Cottage Garden Fund.

The Garden is available as an event space venue through the HSOG for small gatherings and events, including weddings. Contact us for more renting details.

Beersheba Well

Located in Auditorium Park, the HSOG maintains the Beersheba Well, an 1881 folk Victorian architectural style gazebo that surrounds and protects the 1911 Well drinking fountain, made of cast iron, at its center. Related to this, the HSOG has used an etching of the Beersheba Well in its logo for decades now.
The Well has been restored three times in the last 50 years: First in 1976, the HSOG restored the Gazebo as a U.S. Bicentennial gift to the town. Work was completed by Jeffrey Kopp and James W. Day. In 1994, the Monmouth County Historical Commission provided a matching grant with Comm. and Mrs. Robert Rightmire and Mrs. Edward S. Rightmire for restoration of the cast iron drinking fountain and replacement of its bubbler, in memory of their parents, Dr. and Mrs. Oliver Rightmire. Work was supervised by John Case of Case Enterprises Inc. In 2018, the Well was restored in time for the 150th Anniversary of Ocean Grove in 2019 by the Monmouth Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the OGCMA, and the HSOG. Once again, work was supervised by John Case of Case Enterprises Inc.

The availability of fresh water for drinking and cooking was critical to the success of Ocean Grove. Named after a well dug by Abraham in the Bible’s Old Testament, the Beersheba Well (Hebrew for Well of the Oath) was the first well drilled in Ocean Grove in 1870. Thereafter, Ocean Grove was famed for its many fresh water wells, making it a desirable location to live or visit. Prime real estate during those early years was closest to a well, not the oceanfront. Water was generally carried back home by the children in the family, in two wooden buckets suspended from a yoke that was worn across the shoulders.

As the community grew, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association’s concerns turned to the health issues at hand. By 1883 there were approximately 800 tube wells in the community’s homes and 4-1/2 miles of sewer pipes. A concerted effort was made to find a reliable and safe source of drinking water. At the head of Fletcher Lake, a 4-inch diameter well was bored 420 feet into the ground. After six months of drilling, an abundant freshwater source was found. Water was under such high pressure that it would rise at a rate of 43 gallons in two minutes 35 seconds in pipes marked at 18 feet 9 inches above ground and rose to a total height of 28 feet. This made it perfect for providing water to Ocean Grove residents. Thereafter Ocean Grove began a period of rapid growth.

The Well originally had a common pump with a tin cup attached. It gained fame throughout the world in the early 20th century as a symbol of Temperance and the Temperance movement. On August 20, 1904, famed temperance lecturer Carrie Nation gave her famous Ocean Grove Temperance Lecture.

Please consider a donation to the Beersheba Well.

Fitzgerald Fountain of Hope

Photo Credit: Paul Goldfinger

In 2018, the HSOG spearheaded a drive to restore the 1907 Fitzgerald Fountain of Hope in Founders Park. The Fountain stopped working in 1976 due to environmental conditions, vandalism, and neglect. This ultimately prompted Preservation New Jersey to list the Fountain on its 2017 top-ten list of New Jersey’s most endangered historic sites.

The Fountain was originally cast by J. W. Fiske, New York City, the most prominent American manufacturer of decorative cast iron and cast zinc in the latter half of the 19th century. For restoration, the Fountain was shipped to Robinson Iron, Alexander City, Alabama, where it was restored and three missing tiers were newly cast from the original Fiske molds that Robinson had acquired. In April 2019, the Fountain was returned to Ocean Grove in preparation for its rededication on July 27, 2019, on Victorian Day, during Ocean Grove’s 150th anniversary celebration.

The Fountain is dedicated to Methodist Episcopal Bishop James N. Fitzgerald, second president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. In 1907, Fitzgerald, a widely admired Ocean Grove leader, rushed to Malaysia on learning that his daughter had died of smallpox during a religious mission there. He never made it back. “BISHOP FITZGERALD DEAD; Expired at Hong Kong on his way home from the Far East,” read The New York Times headline on April 5, 1907. Pleurisy was cited as the cause.

Deep in mourning, the Ocean Grove community decided to erect a marvelous monument to honor Fitzgerald: a 16-foot, four-tiered, cast iron “Fountain of Hope.” For generations it flowed as the centerpiece of Founders Park (then Thompson Park), the spot of Ocean Grove’s first encampment in 1869.

You can visit this delightful Victorian garden fountain with its gentle patter of trickling water surrounded by benches and flower beds in Founders Park at Central and Surf Avenues. This project was the final ambitious effort of Wayne T. (Ted) Bell, a founding Board member of the HSOG, a long time Ocean Grove historian, and an even longer-time resident of Ocean Grove. Ted’s daughter, Cindy Bell, brought the project to completion along with Bob Waitt, HSOG Board President.

Please consider a donation to the Fitzgerald Fountain of Hope.

Fitzgerald Fountain of Hope

The HSOG supports and maintains three cast iron vases within Ocean Grove that commemorate aspects of Ocean Grove’s early history:

1875 Memorial Vase, Founders Park

1876 Centennial Vase, Auditorium Park

1877 Summer Worshippers’ Vase, Broadway and Central Avenue.

Please consider a donation to the Commemorative Urns.