RECORD GROUP: Municipalities
RECORD SERIES #: 8600.07
SERIES: Monmouth Beach
VOLUME: 103 volumes
The following historical narrative about Monmouth Beach was prepared by Borough Historian Rosemary O’Brien, for the book, Town by Town: Impressions of Monmouth County (Freehold: Office of the Monmouth County Clerk, 2002):
In 1668, Eliakim Wardell traded with the Indians for the land, which are now Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright. Eliakim was appointed as the first High Sheriff of Monmouth County. In 1842, his great grandson, Henry, built the first hotel near the Shrewsbury inlet called the Ocean House that offered fine accommodations, bathing, boating, fishing, and a steamboat landing.
On March 5, 1849, Henry Wardell deeded a lot to the newly formed U.S. Life Saving Service. The site, among the first of many Life Saving Stations built along the Jersey Shore, was much needed because of the many shipwrecks along the coast. The original station was on the beach. In later years, a new station was built on the west side of Ocean Avenue, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard then given over to the Marine Police. Development of the shore began with the construction of Long Branch and Sea Shore Railroad in 1865. With Long Branch rapidly growing, rails were laid along the coast to meet the New York Steamboats at Sandy Hook.
In 1865, Dr. Arthur V. Conover of Freehold came to the Wardell Farm and saw the tremendous possibilities in its proximity to both river and ocean. He bought it all for $5.00 an acre and soon sold parcels at $100.00 an acre. By 1889, it was $7,000.00 an acre. In 1869, Dr. Conover sold the northern portion of the Wardell tract to Miflin Paul, who was a developer of neighboring Sea Bright. In 1871, Dr. Conover and friends formed the first Monmouth Beach Association to create an exclusive resort. Harry Fosberg, a Swedish engineer, laid out the streets and lots. The railroad moved the tracks into Seaview Avenue. Massive cottages were erected along the oceanfront. Soon, more and more people were attracted to the quiet charm of Monmouth Beach.
St. Peter of Galilee Episcopal Church was built on the ocean in 1873. In later years, it was moved to the west side of Ocean Avenue because of the encroaching sea and it was eventually destroyed by fire.
The Galilee Fishing Association was chartered in 1884 to become a major supplier of fish to the New York markets. Fifteen-foot boats were launched through the surf. Offshore, there were poles set with nets. The catch was hauled into the boats and when they returned to the beach, teams of horses pulled the heavy burden from the sea. The horses were then hitched to wagons that carried the fish, packed in ice, to the Galilee Railroad stop until the trains stopped running in 1946.
In 1891, John Maney donated his property at the head of Beach Road as the site for the Church of Precious Blood. Built by fishermen, the ceiling is designed like a ship’s hull. In 1905, a Volunteer Fire Company of 50 members and a Ladies Auxiliary erected a firehouse on Beach Road and Borden Street, which later moved to the corner of West Street. A new firehouse was built next to Borough Hall. On March 9, 1906, the Borough of Monmouth Beach was given its Charter. In 1917, a building known as the Casino was purchased and moved up Beach Road to where it stands now as the Borough Hall. It also served as Police Headquarters until a new building was erected on Willow Avenue in 1990.
A Board of Education was formed in June of 1906 and by the end of 1909, a school was erected and in operation on the corner of Griffin Street and Hastings Place.
A magnificent Beach Club at the foot of Beach Road opened to private memberships in 1912. In 1918, the Borough bought land at the end of Valentine Street as a community bank. The original Pavilion was replaced by the present structure and pool after it was destroyed by a storm.
The 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s brought many changes: Shore Regional High School was built, the Northeast Monmouth County Regional Sewerage Authority allowed for building expansion, flowing fields of cattails were transformed into neighborhoods, mansions were torn down to make way for oceanfront high-rises, and the riverfront was developed for condominiums, marinas and restaurants. Beach Road now boasts a bank, shops, professional offices, restaurants, and a new Post Office.
Over the years, the ocean had taken most of our shoreline. Waves were crashing over the seawall until the Federal, State and local governments devised a beach replenishment program, which has pumped sand to make beaches again.
In 1999, the State made plans to demolish the old Life Saving Station. The Monmouth Beach Historical Society and the people of Monmouth Beach prevailed upon the powers that be, to lease the building to the Borough. That great treasure has been saved and renovated with the help of many hands and the generosity of Jay W. Ross and residents who want to preserve one of the last vestiges of life in early Monmouth Beach.
The records consist of 103 volumes of Tax Duplicates, 1909-2005. Most of the books have a year on the cover or spine, with exceptions noted below. Note that some of the books record tax payments over several years, presumably recording late payments.
The 1909 book is grouped alphabetically by property owner. It is undated on the cover but has been dated by earliest dates of tax payments. It lists property valuations and tax payments through 1911. Also listed are numbers of dogs and payment of dog taxes. Dog taxes continue to be listed in the books for several years. Some dogs are noted as “dead.”
The series also includes an original and a carbon copy of a volume that has the date 1909 on the cover but the number 9 is crossed off. It lists property owners by block and lot with street address and assessed value but does not include dates of tax payments or any other dates.
There are two books for 1912, one of which is dated only on the last page.
Subsequent books are listed by block and lot number and some include records of land sales for payment of back taxes and note whether the owner was an “exempt fireman.” Exempt firemen were volunteers who had served for seven years. (See guide to Exempt Firemen record series for more information on volunteer fire fighters.)
There are no books for 1928, 1974, and 1975.
2/3/2009; revised 2/5/2010