What started out in 1869 as a Victorian-era camp meeting site has become one of the Jersey Shore’s finest year-round seaside resorts. Known as “The Jewel of the Jersey Shore,” Ocean Grove has the highest concentration of authentic Victorian architecture in the country. This national historic treasure offers one square mile of natural beauty, including pristine beaches, tree-lined streets, serene boardwalk and parks, music & lecture programs, unique eateries, magnificent Inns, a quaint shopping district and is home to Century 21 Coastal Realtors.
Ocean Grove established various rules and regulations, including perhaps the most famous: the banning of all carriages and automobiles on the streets on Sunday, as well as the banning of Sunday beach bathing, and the prohibition of the sale of liquors within a circle of a mile of Ocean Grove. President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, in 1875, arriving by carriage on Sunday at the chained gates of Ocean Grove, simply tethered his horses and carriage at the gate and walked the half mile on sand streets to his sister’s house on Wesley Lake, then to the open air auditorium where 5,000 children, adults and Civil War veterans welcomed him in voices of praise.
The most impressive structure in Ocean Grove, and the center of activity since 1894, is The Great Auditorium. Built in 1875, the auditorium was originally covered with tree boughs. It provided shade but not shelter from rain for the congregation. A permanent roof was added in 1876. At this time the Auditorium could seat 3,000 worshipers. The congregation continued to grow over the years, resulting in the construction of a new building to seat 10,000 in 1893. The Great Auditorium continues to be used for Sunday services during the summer. It also serves as a showcase for popular preachers and evangelists such as Billy Graham, Gypsy Smith and Norman Vincent Peale.
In 1975, Ocean Grove received the designation as a State and National Historic District as an example of a 19th century planned urban community. The district contains the largest aggregate of Victorian and early 20th century structures in America. A Board of Architectural Review was established to create exterior design standards ensuring that the District would maintain its existing architectural heritage of Victorian seaside cottages.
Located along the beach, just south of Asbury Park, Ocean Grove is strategically situated at the geographic center of the Jersey Shore with Sandy Hook to the north and Atlantic City to the south, and all of the Shore’s attractions within easy access. Only an hour’s drive from Manhattan (to the north) and Philadelphia (to the south), Ocean Grove is a weekend, summer, and year-round destination for international travelers. All are drawn to all it has to offer.
To learn more about the rich history of Ocean Grove, visit the Ocean Grove Historical Society.
To discover all that Ocean Grove has to offer, visit the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce.
To discover all that’s happening on the Jersey Shore, visit the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors website.
For up to the minute happenings check out the Visit the Jersey Shore blog.