Long Beach Island

Museum

Engleside & Beach Aves.

Beach Haven, NJ

Mission Statement

The Long Beach Island Historical Association collects, preserves and interprets the history of Long Beach Island through its educational programs, guest lecturers, walking tours, special events and an ever growing research center. The museum, situated at the center of Beach Haven’s Historic District, showcases 24 exhibits which includes over 450 photographs and hundreds of artifacts for the sole purpose of encouraging the public to not only understand our island’s rich history but also to appreciate the people and events who helped in shaping its character.

A Brief History of LBI
Before the colonial period the native Lenape tribes in the local area travelled in wooden dugout canoes to the island seasonally, to escape the heat, fish, gather clams to eat, and shells for jewelry and trade.  The early local colonists used the barrier islands much the same – seasonally -- to fish, whale (semi-permanent camps were established as early as 1690), gather salt hay, bayberry & beach plum, and make sea salt.
As the settlers became more established, ports such as Clamtown (later Tuckerton) were established about 1700 on the mainland, and roads improved.  Cattle were grazed on Tuckers Island by 1735. Permanent seasonal accommodations were built on the island for men coming to fish and hunt;  such as the Philadelphia Company House (started as Horners in 1815, became Bonds from 1851-1909) near Tuckers Island just south of what is now called Holgate, and the Mansions of Health in Surf city (1822-1850). There was a “boarding hotel” at Barnegat inlet from about 1820, and the first manned lighthouse was built at the inlet in 1834. A manned lighthouse was built on Tuckers Island in 1848, where a community, later called Sea Haven, was springing up.
By the 1850s, with railroads reaching Absecon Inlet (later to be Atlantic City)and Manasquan , and with increased coastal & international trade via sailing vessels just off the coast,  lighthouses were built first in Absecon 1857 and then the present lighthouse at Barnegat Light in 1859.  The lighthouse keepers and lifesavers remained the only winter inhabitants of Long Beach.
The islands “modern” history begins as the railroads reached south to Toms River and Barnegat; with the Tuckerton Railroad reaching Manahawkin and Tuckerton by 1872. The railroad allowed visitors (and goods needed for comfortable living) to reach the shore quickly; and also allowed for shore products to be shipped to Philadelphia & New York all year. The first year-round life-saving stations  were established in 1871.  Land development companies laid out Beach Haven  in 1872 and Barnegat City (now Barnegat Light) in 1878, with sail boats and steam launches being used to transfer visitors and goods from mainland railroad to  the island.  The Parry House , Engleside,and later the Baldwin hotels,  were built in Beach Haven; and the Oceanic & Sunset in Barnegat City.  The Tuckerton & Long Beach Land & Improvement Co. principals were also major stockholders in the Baldwin Locomotive Co., the Tuckerton Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. After they and their wealthy Philadelphia  friends built houses in Beach Haven, the PRR was convinced to build a railroad trestle to LBI which opened in 1886 (abandoned 1935) leading to an extended property boom from the 1880’s-1920’s, especially in Beach Haven.  Other smaller communities such as:  Spray Beach (1889), Beach Haven Terrace, Brant Beach, Surf City (Inc. in 1899), and Harvey Cedars (Inc. in 1894) were established along the railroad.   
Although most of the houses built were still seasonal, the presence of the railroad (and later the 1914 automobile bridge) made permanent business & year-round living on the island feasible. Census records show that the island’s permanent population was 33 people in 1880, increasing to 522 in 1910, and 1,827 in 1930.
After the depression of the 1930’s and the Second World War, development resumed in the “Cape Cod” period 1946 – 1962; assisted by the completion of the Garden State Parkway to Manahawkin in 1954, and the opening of the four-lane causeway  (to replace the old two-lane wooden bridge) in 1956.  The 1962 storm and early 70’s economic problems temporarily delayed development;  but by the late 70’s the island was essentially “built-out”.  Most of the recent building boom of the period 1980-2007 consists of  tear-down/replacement of existing houses.
Because of early erosion in Barnegat City, Surf City and elsewhere,  and the extensive tear-downs of the 1980’s and 1990’s; the  majority of the surviving 19th century and early 20th century  structures on LBI are in Beach Haven.  The Beach Haven Historic District (running from 5th to Chatsworth, east of Bay Avenue/LBI Boulevard) was created in 1983 in response to the increasing loss of historic structures, and conflicting building styles.  As of 2012 it is the only historic district on LBI. 

Before the colonial period the native Lenape tribes in the local area travelled in wooden dugout canoes to the island seasonally, to escape the heat, fish, gather clams to eat, and shells for jewelry and trade.  The early local colonists used the barrier islands much the same – seasonally -- to fish,whale (semi-permanent camps were established as early as 1690), gather salt hay, bayberry & beach plum, and make sea salt.


As the settlers became more established, ports such as Clamtown (later Tuckerton) were established about 1700 on the mainland, and roads improved.  Cattle were grazed on Tuckers Island by 1735. Permanent seasonal accommodations were built on the island for men coming to fish and hunt;  such as the Philadelphia Company House (started as Horners in 1815, became Bonds from 1851-1909) near Tuckers Island just south of what is now called Holgate, and the Mansions of Health in Surf city(1822-1850). There was a “boarding hotel” at Barnegat inlet from about 1820, and the first manned lighthouse was built at the inlet in 1834. A manned lighthouse was built on Tuckers Island in 1848, where a community, later called Sea Haven, was springing up.


By the 1850s, with railroads reaching Absecon Inlet (later to be Atlantic City)and Manasquan , and with increased coastal & international trade via sailing vessels just off the coast,  lighthouses were built first in Absecon 1857 and then the present lighthouse at Barnegat Light in 1859.  The lighthouse keepers and lifesavers remained the only winter inhabitants of Long Beach.


The islands “modern” history begins as the railroads reached south to Toms River and Barnegat; with the Tuckerton Railroad reaching Manahawkin and Tuckerton by 1872. The railroad allowed visitors (and goods needed for comfortable living) to reach the shore quickly; and also allowed for shore products to be shipped to Philadelphia & New York all year. The first year-round life-saving stations were established in 1871.  Land development companies laid out Beach Haven  in 1872 andBarnegat City (now Barnegat Light) in 1878, with sail boats and steam launches being used to transfer visitors and goods from mainland railroad to  the island.  The Parry House , Engleside,and later the Baldwin hotels,  were built in Beach Haven; and the Oceanic & Sunset in Barnegat City. The Tuckerton & Long Beach Land & Improvement Co. principals were also major stockholders in the Baldwin Locomotive Co., the Tuckerton Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. After they and their wealthy Philadelphia  friends built houses in Beach Haven, the PRR was convinced to build a railroad trestle to LBI which opened in 1886 (abandoned 1935) leading to an extended property boom from the 1880’s-1920’s, especially in Beach Haven.  Other smaller communities such as:  Spray Beach (1889), Beach Haven Terrace, Brant Beach, Surf City (Inc. in 1899), and Harvey Cedars (Inc. in 1894) were established along the railroad.   


Although most of the houses built were still seasonal, the presence of the railroad (and later the 1914 automobile bridge) made permanent business & year-round living on the island feasible. Census records show that the island’s permanent population was 33 people in 1880, increasing to 522 in 1910, and 1,827 in 1930.


After the depression of the 1930’s and the Second World War, development resumed in the “Cape Cod” period 1946 – 1962; assisted by the completion of the Garden State Parkway to Manahawkin in 1954, and the opening of the four-lane causeway  (to replace the old two-lane wooden bridge) in 1956.  The 1962 storm and early 70’s economic problems temporarily delayed development;  but by the late 70’s the island was essentially “built-out”.  Most of the recent building boom of the period 1980-2007 consists of  tear-down/replacement of existing houses.


Because of early erosion in Barnegat City, Surf City and elsewhere,  and the extensive tear-downs of the 1980’s and 1990’s; the  majority of the surviving 19th century and early 20th century structures on LBI are in Beach Haven.  The Beach Haven Historic District (running from 5th to Chatsworth, east of Bay Avenue/LBI Boulevard) was created in 1983 in response to the increasing loss of historic structures, and conflicting building styles.  As of 2012 it is the only historic district on LBI. 

History of the LBI Museum Building
  • 1874 - Parry House, accommodating 300 guests is built one block north on Centre Street by Charles Parry, President of Baldwin Locomotive Works.
  • 8/1881 - A fire in the kitchen flu broke out in the middle of the night. Everyone escaped but the entire Parry House was lost.
  • 7/9/1882 - Grateful that no lives were lost, Mrs. Martha Parry purchases the lots and funds the entire costs for the construction of the Holy Innocents Episcopal Church which was consecreated in July.
  • 9/1901 - Hurricane blows the church from its foundation. Entire church is moved 20 feet to the east and building is strengthened with butresses added.
  • 6/1938 - Chapel is built for winter services on east side of building.
  • 1951 - Chapel is converted to a parish hall when kitchen facilities are added.
  • 1951 - Porch is extended across entire front including the winter chapel.
  • 1959 - Belfry is struck by lightening. The nell is removed and placed on concrete pad on front lawn.
  • 12/15/1974 - Last service is held and bell moved to new Church on Marine Street.
  • 1976 - The property is purchased by the Long Beach Island Historical Association.
  • 1980-1981 - The entire roof is replaced, ceiling fans are installed, diorama is built in space      between two buildings, belfry is repaired.
  • 1983 - Remaining area between two buildings is enclosed for storage areas.
  • 1985 - A fire exit is cut through the old sacristy.
  • 1990 - Handicap lift is installed.
  • 2005 - New heating system and central air conditioning is installed.
  • 2011 - New front porch roof.
  • 2012 - New roof for belfry.