RECORD GROUP: Municipalities
RECORD SERIES #: 8600.21
SERIES: Belmar
DATES: 1885-2008
VOLUME: 30 cubic feet

Belmar image

Historical records from this local municipality were placed on deposit in the Monmouth County Archives and Records Center pursuant to a municipal resolution and a depository agreement, which provide that this local municipality retains ownership of the records and that the Monmouth County Archives can provide public access to them.

The following historical narrative about Belmar is adapted from the essay prepared by Brian Magovern, Belmar Recreation Director, for the book, Town by Town: Impressions of Monmouth County (Freehold: Office of the Monmouth County Clerk, 2002):

Perhaps the first inhabitants of the Belmar area surrounding the south side of the Shark River were members of a tribe of Unami (fisherman) Indians, a subdivision of the Lenni-Lenape people. However, migratory Indians descended upon the Belmar area each spring and stayed until fall to take advantage of the fishing and cool breezes found at the ocean, thus making Belmar a summer resort long before the advent of Columbus.

About the year 1755, a number of salt works, which were important to the preservation of food, were started along the Shark River near where the Main Street bridge is now located. On April 6, 1778, a band of about 135 regular British soldiers attacked and destroyed the salt works before finally being driven off by local militia.

In 1872, a group of 25 prominent businessmen from Philadelphia and New York, who had summered together in Ocean Grove, decided they would like a new summer community of their own. This new community, they believed, should be favored by cool ocean breezes, convenient to good fishing and boating, and sufficiently isolated so as to retain its charm for many years. The southern shore of the Shark River, three miles south of Ocean Grove, seemed the answer to their wishes. James A. Bradley of Asbury Park, one of the founders of Ocean Grove, had already been attracted to this area and had purchased two tracts of land totaling 36 acres.

The first agreement for the organization of the Ocean Beach Association was dated August 31, 1872, and on March 13, 1873, the Ocean Beach Association was incorporated. Mr. Abraham Bitner was appointed purchasing agent and the membership grew to 41 people. The first sixty shares of stock in the Ocean Beach Association were sold for $500.00 each.

The Ocean Beach Association planned their town beautifully with twelve avenues, each 80 feet wide and each beginning at the ocean and ending at the Shark River. The first hotel, the Ocean Beach House, was built in the summer of 1873 on the southeast corner of F Street (now Main Street) and Fifth Avenue. Other hotels quickly followed along the oceanfront and by 1890 there were 17 hotels in operation due to the construction of a plank walk, four feet wide from First to Tenth Avenues on the east side of Ocean Avenue, thus creating the first boardwalk, which is still popular today. Also in 1875, Ocean Bridge began to reinforce its aspect as a permanent community by building a schoolhouse. This one-room school was erected on tow lots at F Street and Twelfth Avenues, which remains the site of today’s elementary school. Barnabus Barr was appointed the first teacher of the new school. Ocean Beach did not feel the need for a police department until ten years after the start of the community, but in 1882, Benjamin F. Bitner was appointed its first policeman.

In 1889, many residents felt a name change was desirable due to the confusion with towns such as Ocean City, Oceanport and other towns with various names ending in “Beach.” Six alternate names were selected and on May 14, 1889, a vote of 63 in favor and none against the name Belmar, which in French means “beautiful sea.” Belmar was chosen.

Today, Belmar, with its small town charm, is known as a four season community, which provides special attractions, such as the St. Patrick’s Parade, AVP Beach Volleyball Tournament, Belmar 5-Mile Run, October Festival, and Winterfest. After a day on Belmar’s beautiful wide beach, everyone can relax walking the one-mile long boardwalk, enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Belmar Marina, eat at one of the many great restaurants, or listen to one of the scheduled outdoor concerts. As the saying goes, “BELMAR IS JUST THE BEGINNING”.

Scope and Content
A chronological “Index to Minutes of Borough of Belmar and Ocean Beach Assn. from 1872 to 1921” is available to researchers. This index was prepared by William B. Bamford and Fred V. Thompson, Committee on Public Records.

Mayor & Council Meeting Minute Books:

Box 1: 1885 – 1897
(1898 – 1900 missing)
Box 2: 1901 – 1909
Box 3: 1909 – 1922
Box 4: 1922 – 1927
Box 5: December 1928 – May 1932
(1933-1936 missing)
Box 6: May 1937 – May 1947
Box 7: May 1947 – September 1953 & June 1954 – March 1955
Box 8: September 1953 – November 1960
Box 9: November 1960 – April 1966
Box 10: April 1966 – March 1971
Box 11: March 1971 – December 1974
Box 12: November 1974 – October 1976
Box 13: October 1976 – December 1980
Box 14: January 1981 – May 1983
Box 15: May 1983 – December 1985
Box 16: December 1985 – June 1988
(July 1988 – December 1988 missing)
Box 17: January 1989 – April 1990
Box 18: April 1990 – July 1991
Box 19: August 1991 – April 1993
Box 20: April 1993 – May 1994
Box 21: Agenda Session Minutes 1980-1988, 1995-1999, and Closed Session Minutes 1986-1999
Box 22: August 1994 – March 1996
Box 23: March 1996 – January 1998
Box 24: February 1998 – September 1999
Box 25: January 2000 – September 2001
Box 26: October 2001 – March 2002, October 2003 – December 2004, Closed Session Minutes 2000-2004
Box 27: March 2003 – April 2002
Box 28: January 2005 – August 2006
Box 29: September 2006 – December 2007, Closed Session Minutes 2005 – 2008
Box 30: January – December 2008

Access Restrictions
These records are open to the public without restriction.
Researchers may view these records in the Archives.
Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07726
(732) 308-3771
Acquisition Information
Twenty cartons were placed on deposit on May 9, 2012. An additional 10 cartons were placed on deposit September 11, 2017.
Processing Information
A finding aid was created May 11, 2012, by Gary D. Saretzky, and updated September 12, 2017 by George Joynson.