"Religion in a Victorian Heritage Site" Ocean Grove by nicolaitan

Ocean Grove Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 48 photos

Understanding Ocean Grove

For more than 150 years, Ocean Grove has been a place of spiritual rebirth and rejuvenation for American Methodists and many others. Founded by a group of ministers led by Rev. Ellwood Stokes in 1869, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Society bought from the state of New Jersey this one square mile then-secluded plot on the Jersey Shore, built the first of several tabernacles, and held summer tent faith meetings. Over the years, numerous permanent predominantly Victorian houses were built along the ocean front and now it is America's largest grouping of Victorian architecture. The land is owned by the Methodist church and leased to residents on 99-year terms.
Back in my time, Ocean Grove was off limits. Church policy was munincipal policy. Police blocked the three entrances from the main road. On Sunday, wheeled vehicles could not be parked on city streets. Even today, the beach is closed on Sunday AM, the town is dry with no liquor sales, and same-sex marriages are being opposed in court.
But in the 1970's and 1980's, the difficulties in neighboring Asbury Park and several legal setbacks opened the town in part to visitors and a more liberal lifestyle. Today Ocean Grove is thriving - its Victorian hotels lining the beach and extending into town are filled to capacity. The old style main street with its unique architecture is jammed with residents and visitors supporting cute upscale shops and a number of trendy restaurants. Bicycles are still a no-no on the well-maintained boardwalk but joggers and walkers fill the boards on weekends, so unlike Asbury one mile north. The beach is backed by dunes and is pretty spectacular, also superbly maintained. No beer coolers on this beach.
The immaculate town, great beach, and the Great Auditorium ( see tip ) successfully beckon a large population of family-oriented tourists and visitors.

Small Town - Big Prestige

Ocean Grove is a magnet for the famous and powerful in all walks of life. Politically potent, numerous presidents have visited, many speaking in the Great Auditorium. These include Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, William S. McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Richard Nixon.
The Great Auditorium is first and foremost the center for the summer revivals, but has attracted world class performers - this year Johnny Mathis is one of the featured visitors. Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale have lectured here. Methodist functions draw top church officials and assorted choirs and acting groups.

  • Intro Updated Aug 25, 2007
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Reviews (8)

Comments (8)

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Jan 17, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    Back for a review of Ocean Grove. Need to see it. Mt.Tabor & Martha's Vineyard are faves-so know I'd love this settlement. Thanks!

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    Love all the victorian homes and Thorny looks fantastic. Beautiful photos!

  • MD2nd's Profile Photo
    Sep 21, 2010 at 5:26 AM

    Lovely Victorian houses at Ocean Grove! - Oh yes, I'm a Subway fan. In fact it's the convenient part I like about'em. And no wait, and their things are fresh.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    Those old Victorian houses look really authentic and beautiful; are they all inhabited by Methodists? And that famous hedge fund investor, is he a Methodist too? And did those two resident lesbians win their lawsuit? (They're Methodists too, I suppose?)

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Jun 25, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    Beautiful Victorian houses in Ocean Grove! Thanks Lew for sharing!

  • CesVT's Profile Photo
    May 26, 2009 at 9:01 PM

    Bonjour! Wonderful informative pages on Asbury Park & Ocean Grove! It makes me feel like building REAL pages again! I was there in the summer of 2004 & it's great to get an update-there wasn't a store open on the Asbury boardwalk back then! Miss the fun!

  • Herwig1961's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2008 at 4:33 PM

    How interesting to learn about this place.The architecture is amazing.Learned something new by reading your page!Thank you

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2007 at 9:09 AM

    Love your presentation of Ocean Grove. I'll have to check out this area..along with ASbury Park. It all reminds me of Mt. Tabor near my son in NJ and also Martha's Vineyard's Methodist settlement. Amazing.


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