Some Sea Bright History …
Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright have a lot in common. So much in fact — for about 200 years — they were one.
From roughly 1670 (when it was “Wardell’s Beach”) up until 1870 (when then owner Dr. Arthur Conover sold off the north coast portion), Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright were the same.
I’ve acquired a new interest in learning more about Sea Bright history — here are some others things I’ve found out:
• Mifflin Paul might be called the unofficial founder of Sea Bright. In 1869, he paid $5,000 to Dr. Conover to buy much of the area and plotted it out. At that time not a single house existed. A true wheeler-dealer, Paul also brought the railroad to town and built the Long Branch-Seabright Turnpike (essentially Ocean Avenue). He also set up the original Octagon Hotel and Peninsula House Hotel. He died in April 1890.
• On March 21, 1889, the NJ State Legislature officially created the original Borough of Sea Bright following a 136-3 vote of approval by its residents the previous day. The area had been part of Ocean Twp. In fact, there have been two Sea Bright boroughs. The current one with the Mayor/Council form of government was incorporated on April 27, 1896. Prior to that, the borough operated under a commission form of government led by a President.
• P. Hall Packer (1853-1924) was the first mayor of the Sea Bright under its current charter (in fact, he lived in Rumson on Packer Avenue).
• Martha Stevens of Castle Point, Hoboken, NJ gave Sea Bright its name. An early visitor to the area, she was an associate of the town’s first developers: Mifflin Paul, W.W. Shippen, and Samuel Dod. She was also the founder of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken in 1870. Paul had suggested “St.-Paul-on-the-Shrewsbury” as a town name.
• The first Sea Bright-Rumson bridge was opened in 1870; it was a 340-foot wooden drawbridge. In 1878 it was replaced with an iron structure. A total of five bridges have been built. A new one is planned for 2020. In November, 1888 Mifflin Paul sought to sell the bridge to the county for about $38,000.
• The great Sea Bright fire of June 1891 destroyed the majority of the downtown district, including over 400 residences. The immense configuration all started by “a man named Kelly” began in the livery stables of J.A. Buckalew on River Street.
• Sea Bright nicknames through the years: “Where every breeze is water-cooled” and “The playground of Monmouth County.”
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SB Photos …