A photo-essay on beach life at Long Branch …
Long Branch is a beach town — one of the best ever. Shore lovers have known it for 150 years now. In the course of doing research on Long Branch history, I’ve found few things that elicit nostalgia more than family and friends at their favorite beach clubs. Long Branch has its share.
These images are representative of summer at the beach in Long Branch. I’ve also sought to identify most of the city’s beach clubs and offer some brief background on each. Some of it fact, some probably fiction. I did learn that generations of families love their beach clubs — the ones still around and those gone with time.
I did my research through the Asbury Park Press archives — a terrific service — to learn more about the city’s shore life and its beach clubs. If others have better info or more photos, I’d be grateful for the sharing — HERE. Enjoy.
“The Bluffs” at Long Branch, by Winslow Homer, 1869. City historians are uncertain of the exact location of this iconic Gilded Age painting. The best estimate is at Ocean Avenue between Morris and Pavilion Avenues. It is the ultimate Long Branch beach image.
Another day dawns on city beaches, 2019.
Some cruder beach beginnings in LB, 1870.
Family fun at the shore, early 1900s.
Pier Village aerial image, 2010s. Most city beaches are open to the public.
City beach-goers along side the Iron Pier, late 1870s.
An early bathing beauty contest by the LB bluffs, late 1800s.
“Fully Clothed” — another early beach scene at Long Branch, late 1800s.
Summer storm pounds the LB bluffs. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, August 1873.
Busy summer day on a crowded beach, 1923.
Long Branch swimmers test the waters, 1900.
Swimming at North End, 1970s.
“On the Beach at Long Branch, NJ” painting by Winslow Homer, 1867. His art on Long Branch is much prized.
Bluffs, beach and bathers at LB, 1875.
Heading to pool club row on Ocean Avenue, 1930s.
Beaches biggest holiday, July 4, 2019.
Rough surf at Long Branch, New York Illustrated News, 1863.
“On the Bluff at Long Branch” another one by Winslow Homer, 1870.
North Long Branch aerial image, 2018.
Sand replenishment near LB-MB border, 1995 (Jack Flaherty Photo).
On the beach in LB, 1905.
“The Beach at Long Branch, NJ” by Francis Augustus Silva, 1869.
“The Beach at Long Branch, NJ” by Francis Augustus Silva, 1882.
West End beach-goers are among the most dedicated sun, sea & sand patrons, 1981.
North End beach looking into MB at dawn, 2018.
Long Branch bathers dot the coast, looking north, 2016.
City lifeguard stand on a cloudy summer day, 2020.
Summer of social distancing in LB, 2020.
Ocean Beach Club
Ocean Beach Club in Elberon, 2013. The club organized in 1906 still operates today. If so, then it’s the oldest beach club in Long Branch. William Rosenfeld was the first president of OBC which included 25 charter members.
Ocean Beach Club on Ocean Avenue, 1966. William Rosenfeld also was a LB city commissioner and diamond merchant. Born in Oregon in 1866, he donated $100,000 to Monmouth Memorial Hospital when he died in 1957.
Ocean Beach Club, 2021.
Ocean Beach Club pool area, 2010s. The salt water pool was added in the early 1920s at a cost of $18,000.
Ocean Beach Club, today. Samuel Sestito spent a half-century of summers at the OBC, beginning as its superintendent in 1920. He died in 1970.
Ocean Beach Club after Superstorm Sandy, 2013.
Ocean Beach Club, 2021.
Ocean Beach Club in Elberon when it was a private home, 1880s. The house was owned by Temple Bowdoin and later Lewis Gawtry, who sold it to the club in 1921 for $31,500.
Promenade Beach Club
Promenade Beach Club on Cooper Avenue, 2019.
Promenade Beach Club pool area, 2019. Located primarily in Beachfront North, it’s the city’s most modern beach club.
Promenade Beach Club aerial image, 2010s. Located on the old National Guard armory property, the club opened for Summer 2000.
All the pretty colors at the Promenade Beach Club, 2020.
Promenade Beach Club, 2019. Club developers-owners Jim McDuffie, John Chimento and Joe Lagrotteria acquired the 3.1-acre site from the city for $494,000 in 1999.
NJ National Guard Armory on old Ocean Avenue, 1980s. Opened in Sept. 1959 with a $320,000 cost. The facility was used by the 250th Quartermaster Battalion. The building had a 9,000-square-foot drill area and could accommodate 2,000 in its auditorium.
Breakwater Beach Club
Breakwater Beach Club. Established in 1957, by Abe Vogel, Lee Hechter and Sol Tepper.
Breakwater Beach Club on Ocean Avenue in Elberon, 2017. Vogel, who also co-owned Vogel’s Department Store on Broadway and did some part-time acting, later became the sole club owner. He died in May 2007.
Breakwater Beach Club, 2010s.
Breakwater Beach Club, 2018.
Breakwater Beach Club pool area, 2017.
Breakwater Beach Club, 2020. Still operating in 2020.
Breakwater Beach Club, 2021.
Elberon Bathing Club
Elberon Bathing Club on Ocean Avenue in Elberon, 2019.
Elberon Bathing Club. In the late 1920s, the land was owned by Gene Sperry, a wealthy New York lawyer and mayor of Deal, who helped build the facility in Long Branch. It was incorporated in 1943.
Elberon Bathing Club pool, 2000s. Coach Al Neuschaefer was the longtime swimming director at EBC.
Elberon Bathing Club. Among the famous members were: Toots Shor, bombastic NYC saloon keeper; Sonny Werblin, New York Jets owner; and Lester Markel, creator of the New York Times Book Review section.
Elberon Bathing Club — cabanas in a row, 2015. In a 1952 APP report, Edwin Bry, the president of the Elberon Bathing Club, said that operations at the non-profit club date to 1921.
Elberon Bathing Club — ready to hit the deck, 2019. Before it was the EBC, it was a beach place for the Bloomingdale’s — the department store magnates.
EBC not so good: Elberon Bathing Club in ruins after Superstorm Sandy, 2013 (Tom Berg Photo).
EBC so good: Elberon Bathing Club amidst a glorious sunrise, 2013 (Tom Berg Photo).
Elberon Bathing Club — end of another beach season, Fall 2020. New summer to come. (Lisa Karasic Photo).
Colony Surf Club
The massive Colony Surf Club, 1938. The club was on Ocean Avenue in West End.
Colony Surf Club, 1950s. Jerry Pressman and Benjamin Zuckerman sold the Colony (along with the nearby West End Casino beach club) in 1945 for $500,000.
Colony Surf Club, 1935. Built during 1929-30, the private beach club suffered a major fire in October 1948.
Colony Surf Club postcard, 1950s. At its peak in the late 1950s, the club had 70 cabanas and 180 bathhouses.
Colony Beach Club, 1930s.
Colony Surf Club, 1920s. Henry and Bernice Kempler acquired the club in 1961.
Colony Surf Club postcard, 1940s. The club fell into decline and was sold at sheriff’s auction in December 1968.
Colony Surf Club is ablaze in October 1948. All of the city’s fire companies, four from shore area towns and the US Coast Guard battled the “fiercely burning” fire. A new club was rebuilt for $221,000. Irving Ross was the owner.
Cranmer’s Baths on the Ocean and Chelsea Avenues corner, 1920s. According to an APP report, the land was owned by the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC in 1906.
Cranmer’s Baths pool area, 1960s. The club had a walking tunnel connecting pool to beach.
Cranmer’s Baths swimming pool, 1927. Issac Cranmer acquired the property in 1921 and made it Cranmer Baths, Inc. in 1932.
Cranmer’s Baths, 1978. Bennie Cittadino bought the club in 1949 paying $75,000. By then the facility had 1,100 lockers and two swimming pools. Cittadino, the owner for 30 years, died in 1981.
Cranmer’s Bath kid’s pool, 1964 (Dawn Rise Photo). The pools were filled and drained of salt water daily.
Cranmer’s Bath rules, 1964 (Dawn Rise Photo).
Chelsea Baths pool, 1960s. The pool club was fabulously popular in its day. Built at the corner of Ocean and Chelsea Avenues in 1927; Thomas Procter was the contractor-owner.
Busy summer day at Chelsea Baths, 1960s. In 1962, Anthony “Pistol Pete” Cicalese and his son Patsy acquired Chelsea Baths; by 1969 they owned most of the surrounding area.
Chelsea Baths — wooden slide into a saltwater pool, 1940s. Dating back to 1916, the land “west of the boardwalk” was owned by Citizens National Bank, Peters Realty, Louis Proctor and JAC Corp.
Chelsea Baths pool looking east. Under the gray canopy is Pauline Manetti’s snack bar. Daniel Maher who owned the LB pier at the time, helped built the club.
Early days at Chelsea Baths, 1940s. The pool area later became part of the Kid’s World water-slide that opened in May 1985.
Columbia Baths postcard, 1920s. Its specialty was hot salt water baths.
Columbia Baths on Ocean Avenue, 1909.
Columbia Baths on Ocean Avenue, 1911. Among the owners were Isador Wolf (in 1917) and Lewis Proctor.
Columbia Baths, 1920s.
Takanassee Beach Club
A banner day at the Takanassee Beach Club, 1970s. Takanassee means “beautiful view.”
Takanassee Beach Club aerial image, 1960s. At its peak, the club had 600-feet of beachfront and the property was just under 5 acres.
US Life-Saving Sevice station at LB, early 1908. The brave group operated there at #5 until 1915 under the banner: “You have to go out; you don’t have to come back.” Constructed in 1890, the building later housed the Takanassee Beach Club.
Takanassee Beach Club, 1965. The Peters family first acquired the property in 1924 and by 1929 the club was established. Rhoda “Ginny” Peters and her husband James ran the club for decades. It closed in 2006.
Takanassee Beach Club remains in West End, 2009.
Takanassee Beach Club lifeguards, 1976. Dick Steadman (c) — captain of the guards at TCB from 1961 to 1982 — led one of the Jersey Shore’s finest group of guards.
Takanassee Beach Club aerial image, late 1990s. For nearly 80 years, the Peters family ran the beach club from beginning to end.
Takanassee Beach Club in the early days. The first pool was opened in 1963.
Takanassee Beach Club gone to seed (or sand), 2008.
Surfside Beach Club
Surfside Beach Club entrance on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1950s.
Surfside Pool & Cabana Club, 1960s. John and Anthony Cittadino started the club in 1947 as part of their successful Seashore Day Camp which they launched in 1926.
Surfside Beach Club, 1970. City families recall many days of glory in the sun here.
Surfside Beach Club, 1960s.
Ad for the brand new Surfside Beach Club, APP, June 1947. The club closed in 1973.
Sunshine Pool & Beach
Sunshine Pool & Beach, 1936. The Ocean Avenue beach club opened in 1933.
Elberon Surf Club
Elberon Surf Club on Ocean Avenue, 1980s. The non-profit, private beach club began operations in 1956. The club and property sold for about $1.5 million in December 1986. It closed shortly thereafter.
The house were the Elberon Surf Club used to stand. This 14,000-square-foot “Belle Mer” oceanfront estate is on the market for just under $38 million.
White Sands Beach Club
Casino Beach and Pool of North Long Branch, 1950s. Construction on the club with 244 bathhouses began in early 1949 — the developers were Charles P. Savoth and William Argerakis. It was renamed White Sands Beach Club in 1961.
City firefighters battle a blaze at the old White Sands, May 1978. The city had acquired the 32-acre property in 1973 for $750,000.
White Sands pool diving, 1960s.
White Sands, 1952. The Savoth family — father and son, Charles and George — managed the North Long Branch club for years.
Miss White Sands: Chris Krueger, Summer 1965.
White Sands beachfront cabanas, 1960s.
White Sands Bathing Club ad, 1965. Members called it “a glorious place for kids and adults.”
White Sands Bathing Club gathering, 1968.
Kiernan’s surfing beach with White Sands in background, 1970.
White Sands after storm wreckage, March 1962. Monmouth County later took control of the property and Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park opened in May 1977.
The old White Sands goes up in flames for good and all. It was the “North End Beach Club” when destroyed by two separate fires over two days in May 1978.
USO Beach Club
USO beach club pavilion in North End, 1940s. Opened in 1943, wrecked in a 1952 storm, a new one was rebuilt in 1954. The Long Branch United Service Organization dates to 1941; its headquarters was on Broadway.
USO beach club in North End, 1940s. Club members were US military personnel and their families.
Avenel Bathing Pavilion in North Long Branch postcard. The club dates to 1913. By the late 1920s, the city owned the club and was leasing it out for summer seasons. The spot officially became the USO Beach Club in 1943. Mary Gill was the first supervisor.
USO beach with North Long Branch Motel in the background, 1970s.
The Beachcomber Club at the end of Atlantic Avenue In North End, 1950s. Stan and James Tsigonis acquired the property in June 1953 — it had been known as “Shipkins” beach club since the 1930s.
Leteendezvous Surf & Swim Club, 1967. Formerly the Beachcomber Club, the North End facility was changed into a swimming and surfing club — for teenagers only. J. Kelsey Burr was in charge.
West End Casino
West End Casino beach club, 1930s. The casino was built by Tillie Levy.
West End Casino beach club twin pools, 1960s.
West End Casino, early 1900s.
West End Casino, 1920s.
West End Casino, 1905. After a major fire in 1965 club closed in 1966.
West End Casino, early 1900s.
Robert Tisch was an owner of the New York Giants. APP, January 1951.