Archive for May, 2013

Long Branch: A Historic Gem

May 31, 2013

Long Branch is one of the largest beach towns at the Jersey Shore and it has a rich history that dates back to the 1700s. While some of these spots are temporarily off limits while they’re being renovated, here’s a historic online tour you may access anytime:

Garfield Tea House – The only remaining structure that is directly related to President James A. Garfield’s final trip to the Jersey Shore.

Wilson Hall at Monmouth University – The centerpiece of the Monmouth University campus is Wilson Hall. Originally, Wilson Hall was the site of the Shadow Lawn mansion, a 52-room home built in 1903 frequented by President Woodrow Wilson during his summer campaign in 1916.  The mansion, destroyed by a fire 11 years later, was rebuilt as a residence for the Parson family (Mr. Parson was the former head of the F.W. Woolworth Company) by Horace Trumbauer and Julian Abele, the latter whom is regarded as the first professional African American architect. Wilson Hall went on to be acquired by Monmouth University after the Great Depression and is now a National Historic Landmark. In fact, the building may even seem familiar… it was used as Daddy Warbucks’s mansion in the 1982 movie, Annie.

Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park – President Ulysses S. Grant named Long Branch the nation’s “summer capital” back in 1869 and the tradition of summer visits continued with other presidents visiting the area, resulting in this park’s affectionate name. But the park itself has another story too. In the late 1800s it was owned by Nate Salsbury, a Long Branch businessman, who used the site for bus Buffalo Bill Wild West show. Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Chief Sitting Bull used to perform here. Today the park is the only county-operated beach in New Jersey and is OPEN! (Ocean Avenue at Joline Avenue) Click here for a downloadable brochure and map.

Church of Presidents – Nestled in the Elberon neighborhood of Long Branch, this historic church is the last remaining structure visited by all presidents who vacationed in Long Branch during its Gilded Age, including: Presidents, Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, Woodrow Wilson and Benjamin Harrison. The church has been named as an Official Project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Save America’s Treasures program. When the church reopens, it’s definitely worth a look. You can get a peek online by clicking here.

If you’re planning a trip to Long Branch, you can also sleep in history. Cedars & Beeches Bed & Breakfast is the first bed and breakfast in this historic area.Call 1-800-323-5655 or 732 571 6777 for information or book online at