A photo-essay on beach life at Long Branch …
Ocean Beach Club.
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 to elicit nostalgia more than family and friends on their favorite local beach clubs.
Long Branch has much to offer here. The following images and facts are representative of many glorious summers at city beaches. I’ve sought to identify all of the city beach clubs and offer brief background on each. Some fact, some fiction. I did learn that generations of city families love their beach clubs — those still around and those long gone.
The remaining active beach clubs in Long Branch are:
• Ocean Beach Club
• Promenade Beach Club
• Breakwater Beach Club
• Elberon Bathing Club
And there were many others. 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.
Long Branch beach scenes …
”Long Branch, New Jersey” by Winslow Homer, 1869. More popularly known as “The Bluffs” — it’s the ultimate Long Branch beach image and yet city historians are uncertain of the exact location of this iconic Gilded Age oil painting. The best estimate is along Ocean Avenue between Morris and Pavilion Avenues. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston acquired the artwork for $2,800 in 1941.
Another day dawns on city beaches, 2019. By Summer 1966, according to the Daily Record, the city of Long Branch had 19 beach clubs along its 5-mile stretch of oceanfront — 9 public and 10 private.
Busy beach day at Pier Village, 2019. Most of city’s coastline is open to the public.
Humble beach beginnings in LB, 1870.
Family fun at the shore, early 1900s.
City beach-goers along side the Iron Pier, late 1870s.
An early bathing beauty contest by the LB bluffs, late 1800s.
Summer storm pounds LB bluffs. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, August 1873.
Busy summer day on a crowded beach, 1923.
Long Branch swimmers test the waters, 1900.
“On the Beach at Long Branch, NJ” by Winslow Homer, 1867. His Long Branch artwork is much prized.
Bluffs, beach and bathers at LB, 1875.
America’s #1 beach holiday, July 4, 2019 in Long Branch, NJ.
Pool Club Row west of Ocean Avenue, 1951. From left: Cranmer’s, Chelsea and Columbia Baths. (Edward F. Thomas Collection). Note: LB Stadium is upper right and LB Pier is lower center.
West End beach-goers are among the most dedicated sun, sea & sand patrons, 1981.
Long Branch bathers dot the coast looking north, 2016.
City lifeguard stand on a cloudy summer day, 2020.
Summer of social distancing in the city, 2020.
Ocean Beach Club
Ocean Beach Club in Elberon, 2013. First organized in 1906 and still operating today — it’s the oldest beach club in Long Branch.
Ocean Beach Club on Ocean Avenue, 1940s. William Rosenfeld was an original founder and the first OBC president which included 25 charter members.
OBC on Ocean Avenue, 1966. Born in Oregon, Rosenfeld also was a city commissioner of public works and a successful diamond merchant. Born in Oregon in 1868, he donated $100,000 to Monmouth Memorial Hospital when he died in September 1957.
Ocean Beach Club, 2020.
Ocean Beach Club, 2017.
Ocean Beach Club, 2021.
Ocean Beach Club pool area, 2010s. The salt water pool was added in the early 1920s for $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 cabanas after a bad fire, September 1938.
Ocean Beach Club, 2017.
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. The Gawtry family made a fortune in banking and natural gas.
Promenade Beach Club
Promenade Beach Club on Cooper Avenue, 2019.
Promenade Beach Club pool area, 2019. Located in Beachfront North, it’s the city’s most modern beach club.
Promenade Beach Club aerial image, 2010s. Located on the old NJ National Guard armory property, the club opened for Summer 2000.
Promenade Beach Club pool area, 2010s.
Super summer montage at Promenade Beach Club, 2020.
Promenade Beach Club, 2019. In 1999, club developers-owners James McDuffie, John Chimento and Joseph Lagrotteria acquired the 3.1-acre site from the city for $494,000.
NJ National Guard Armory on old Ocean Avenue, 1980s. Dedicated in September 1959 and built at a $320,000 cost. The facility was used by the 250th Quartermaster Battalion. It had a 9,000-square-foot drill area, gun range, and could accommodate 2,000 in its auditorium.
Breakwater Beach Club
Breakwater Beach Club on Ocean Avenue in Elberon. The private club was opened in June 1957 by partners: Abe Vogel, Leopold Hechter, Irving Kaye, Harry Glassberg, and Sol Tepper.
Breakwater Beach Club, 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. Designed by H. Irving Braun, the club was called a “palatial arrangement of pools, cabanas and myriad other facilities for summer recreation” when it opened in 1957.
Breakwater Beach Club, 2018.
Breakwater Beach Club pool area, 2017.
Breakwater Beach Club, 2020. Still operating.
Breakwater Beach Club, Winter 2021.
Elberon Bathing Club
Elberon Bathing Club on Ocean Avenue in Elberon, 2019.
Elberon Bathing Club. In 1934 on land he owned Gene Sperry, a wealthy New York lawyer and mayor of Deal, helped organize the club and build a facility in Long Branch. By 1943 the club was incorporated.
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, flamboyant NYC saloon keeper; Sonny Werblin, New York Jets owner; and Lester Markel, creator of the New York Times Book Review section.
EBC cabanas in a row, 2015. In a 1952 APP news story, Edwin Bry, then president, said that operations at the non-profit club began in 1921.
EBC decked out, 2019. During the 1930s, it was a private beach club for Bloomingdale family members and friends — the department store magnates.
City firefighters battle a Elberon Beach Club fire, January 1975.
Colony Surf Club
Colony Surf Club, 1938. The massive beach facility on Ocean Avenue in West End operated for part of four decades.
Colony Surf Club “Official Grand Opening.” Long Branch Daily Record, June 1934.
Colony Surf Club, 1935. Built during the height of the Great Depression, the private beach club would become a summertime paradise for generations of city families.
Colony Surf Club, 1930s. Jerry Pressman and Benjamin Zuckerman bought the club from Harry Reicher in 1944 and sold it (along with the nearby West End Casino beach club) in 1945 for $500,000.
Colony Surf Club postcard, 1947. At its peak in the late 1950s, the club had 70 cabanas and 180 bathhouses and a season of activities.
Colony Beach Club, 1930s. Membership declined in later years and the club was torn down in September 1967. The property was sold at sheriff’s auction in December 1968.
Colony Surf Club, 1944. Henry and Bernice Kempler acquired the club in 1961.
Colony Surf Club postcard, 1940s.
Colony Surf Club is ablaze, 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. Ross Enterprises, Inc. was the owner. After the fire, the Sand & Surf Hotel management took control of the property.
Cranmer’s Baths on the Ocean and Chelsea Avenues corner, 1920s. The land was owned by the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC in 1906, according to the Asbury Park Press.
Cranmer’s Baths pool, 1960s. The club’s first swimming pool opened in 1902 (among the first on the Jersey Shore) and was replaced by a modern one for Summer 1926 (Louis J. Sieling of Red Bank was the builder).
Cranmer’s Baths pool, 1929.
Cranmer’s Baths new swimming pool, 1927. Isaac H. Cranmer started operations in the area about 1878, according to his June 1931 obit. He learned the trade by running the bathing operations at the old United States Hotel nearby. His son, Ralph H. Cranmer, ran the pool club until 1949; he died in 1955.
Cranmer’s pool, 1920s. A “pioneering establishment on the North Jersey coast” –Long Branch Daily Record, June 1940.
Cranmer’s pool, 1920s. By 1967, Pat Cicalese owned the facility.
Swim meet at Cranmer’s Baths, 1964.
Cranmer’s Baths, 1978. In November 1948, M. Benjamin Cittadino bought the facility for $75,000. By then it had 1,100 lockers and two swimming pools. The club’s owner for 30 years, “Bennie” Cittadino passed away in 1981.
Cranmer’s Baths kid’s pool, 1964 (Dawn Rise Photo). The pools were filled and drained of salt water daily.
Cranmer’s Baths on Ocean Avenue, 1970s. After his “bathhouses” on the east side of Ocean Avenue were “washed away in the Great Storm of 1893,” Isaac Cranmer moved operations across the street.
Quite a beach day … Long Branch Daily Record, June 1929. Isaac Cranmer was “the first to build a modern swimming pool.”
Cranmer’s Bath rules, 1964 (Dawn Rise Photo). The club also had an underground walking tunnel connecting the pool to the beach — the first in the area.
Chelsea Arcade Company at Ocean and Chelsea Avenues, 1908. The building — which housed a roller-skating rink and a merry-go-round in the early years — was later wrecked and would become Chelsea Baths.
Chelsea Baths front entrance off Ocean Avenue, 1920s. The city pool club was fabulously popular in its time.
Chelsea Baths pool with the Long Branch Pier on the ocean in back, 1930.
Chelsea Baths grand opening ad, June 1925. According to the Long Branch Daily Record: “no expense is being spared” to make the establishment the best in the state.
Chelsea Baths pool packed in, 1960s. It opened at the corner of Ocean and Chelsea Avenues on July 4, 1925 with 700 lockers. Founding owner-developers were Daniel Maher and Andrew Lustbaum.
Busy summer day at Chelsea Baths, 1960s. Anthony “Pistol Pete” Cicalese and his son Patsy acquired Chelsea Baths in September 1962 from Louis Proctor. By 1969, they would own 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, then Peters Realty, then Louis Proctor and then JAC Corp.
Chelsea Baths, 1960s. Family and friends loving it.
Chelsea Baths pool, 1950s. Upon its Grand Opening in June 1927, the all-concrete pool (136 x 60 feet in size and 3- to 10-feet in depth) was the largest on the whole New Jersey coast.
Chelsea Baths button, 1930s. Daniel Maher who owned the nearby pier at the time and later became city mayor, helped built the pool club.
Chelsea Baths postcard, 1940s. By the mid-1970s, it was called Chelsea Swim Club.
Chelsea Baths pool looking east. Under the gray canopy is Pauline Manetti’s snack bar.
Chelsea Baths pool, 1940s. The facility was reconfigured and absorbed into a water-park with slide that opened for Summer 1978.
Marv Conner sits near the Chelsea Baths “tunnel to the beach,” 1957. It was 110-foot long and opened in 1925. Behind him is “Pauline’s” — a restaurant run by Pauline Manetti. Her family later opened the Cafe Bar on the boardwalk.
Taking a dip at Chelsea Baths, 1950s.
Chelsea Baths pool area, 1956.
Chelsea Baths also had an across the street beach — a busy one too, 1940s. Note the flag at top left.
Chelsea Baths pool-to-beach tunnel, 1960s. It was 8-feet wide, 7 1/2-feet high and 110-feet long.
Columbia Baths postcard, 1920s. Opened in June 1902. Robert Tappin and Morris Burns built the club for $15,000 and were early proprietors. Both men were connected — having been members of the Long Branch Commission. Tappin, a leading local builder, worked at “Grant Cottage” and became a close presidential buddy. He also built the New York & Long Branch Railroad headquarters on Third Avenue in 1891. He died in Oct. 1928.
Columbia Baths on Ocean Avenue, 1909. Its specialty was hot salt water baths. An underground tunnel connecting the club to the beach was added in 1906; Garrett Hennessey was the builder.
Columbia Baths opposite the Long Branch boardwalk, 1909. Leon Cubberley was the building architect.
Columbia Baths ad. Long Branch Daily Record, August 1941. Two new ocean-water feed pools, adult and child, were added for the Summer 1933 with high springboards.
Columbia Baths pool area, 1956.
Columbia Baths hot saltwater bathhouses, 1950s.
Columbia Baths pool area, 1950s.
Columbia Baths on Ocean Avenue, 1911. Among the owners were William H. VanHise (1910), Samuel Wolf (in 1917) and Lewis H. Proctor (sold in 1962). Born in Russia, Wolf came to Long Branch around 1907 and within 10 years had acquired Columbia Baths. He ran the club until his death in February 1933.
Columbia Baths, 1902. By the early-1960s, the Cicalese family owned the club; calling it Columbia Health Spa.
Takanassee Beach Club
A banner day at the Takanassee Beach Club, 1970s. Summer fun lasted there until 2006.
Takanassee Beach Club abandoned, 2011. Starting a sad decline … even as great memories endure.
Takanassee Beach Club aerial image, 1960s. At its peak, club members enjoyed 600-feet of beachfront set on about 5 acres of property spread among several historic buildings. Pretty choice stuff.
Takanassee Beach Club, 1965. The Peters family first acquired the property in 1924 and by June 1932 the club was operating. Rhoda “Ginny” Peters and her husband James ran things for decades. The couple gave up rights to most of the lake area in a November 1952 agreement with the city.
US Life-Saving Service station #5 at Takanassee Beach, 1908. That brave group operated here until 1915 under the oath: “You have to go out; you don’t have to come back.” Opened in 1880, the building later housed parts of the beach club.
Takanassee Beach Club remains in West End, 2009. In 1955, the Peters expanded their beach club operations paying about $25,000 to the US government for an acre of beachfront and a large building and smaller boathouse.
Takanassee Beach Club lifeguards, 1973. Dick Martin (c) — TBC’s captain of the guards from 1961 to 1982 — led one of the Jersey Shore’s finest group of guards.
Takanassee Beach Club aerial image, 2000. For nearly 80 years, the Peters family ran the beach club from beginning to end. All were decedents of James Green, the original land owner, who bought 360-acres in the area in 1764.
Takanassee Beach Club in the early days. Developer Isaac Chera acquired the club property in 2008, paying $17 million to Ginger, Scott and Kristen Peters.
Takanassee Beach Club property in its decline, 2010s.
Takanassee Beach Club gone to seed (or sand), 2008. The first pool was opened in Summer 1959 built by Sylvan Pools for $10,600.
Takanassee Beach Club from above, 2006. The spot also held a US Coast Guard unit that was closed after WW II.
Takanassee Beach Club property aerial image, 2007.
Owner Rhoda Virginia Peters at her Takanassee Beach Club, 2000s (Beth Anne Duze Woolley Photo). She died in January 1999 and her husband James died in 1970.
US Life-Saving Station and out buildings, early 1900s. The first LB station was a tiny cabin built in 1855. A new 1875-type station was built in 1878 and a boathouse with a lookout tower were added in 1897. In 1904 a Port Huron-type station was added to the complex. In May 2012, the 1878 and 1904 structures were purchased privately and moved to a nearby location. The remaining 1897 boathouse, damaged by a October 2011 fire, was completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy a year later. Source: WhalePond Brook Watershed Association.
First life-saving structure built at Takanassee Beach, 1855. This shed was torn down in 1878 to make way for a larger new building. Charles H. Green was appointed the first Station Keeper. in 1856.
US Life-Saving Station, #5 at Takanassee Beach. Opened in 1855.
A short history of the Takanassee Beach Club. Long Branch Daily Record, June 1932.
Takanassee Beach Club program, 1960s.
Surfside Beach Club
Huyler’s Candy Company store on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1909. The spot later became the Surfside Beach Club. Huyler’s was a popular NYC area candy, ice cream, and restaurant chain that operated from 1874 to 1964. Chocolate was their specialty.
Huyler’s store, 1901. Milton Hershey got his start in a Huyler’s store.
Surfside Beach Club entrance on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1950s.
Surfside Beach Club pool area, 1960s. The first pool was 85×40 feet.
Surfside Pool & Cabana Club, 1960s. John and Anthony “Boots” Cittadino started the club in June 1947 as part of their successful Seashore Day Camp which they launched in 1926.
Surfside Beach Club, 1970. City families recall many happy seasons in the sun here.
Surfside Beach Club, 1960s.
Surfside Beach Club, 1954.
Ad for the brand new Surfside Beach Club, APP, June 1947. The club closed in 1973.
Surfside Beach Club aerial image, 1950s.
Huyler’s Candy Company store, 1905. Later to become the Surfside Beach Club in West End.
Elberon Surf Club
Elberon Surf Club on Ocean Avenue, 1980s. By the Summer 1944, David O. Evans was operating the club which included about 60 members. In the mid-1950s, according to the LB Daily Record, the club obtained the nearby home of Carmine DeSapio for its use. DeSapio was the last Tammany Hall political machine boss to dominate municipal politics in NYC.
Elberon Surf Club sketch proposal. Long Branch Daily Record, 1957. That was the year the club incorporated as a non-profit. By December 1986, the club and property were sold for about $1.5 million. Beach club operations stopped 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. Club expansion with 244 bathhouses was done in 1947. It was renamed White Sands Beach Club in 1961.
Casino Beach and Pool of North Long Branch opening ad. Long Branch Daily Record, March 1936. The developers were Charles P. Savoth and William Argerakis.
White Sands Beach Club layout, early 1960s.
City firefighters battle a blaze at the old White Sands, May 1978. The city had acquired the 30-acre property in December 1973 for $740,000.
North End Beach Club ad. Long Branch Daily Record, May 1958. It later became White Sands.
White Sands pool diving, 1960s.
White Sands, 1962. The Savoth family — including father and son, Charles and George — managed the North Long Branch beach club dating back to the 1930s.
“Miss White Sands” — Chris Krueger, Summer ’65.
White Sands beachfront cabanas, 1960s.
White Sands pool, 1960s. The beach club that’s gone through several names over 30 years. Beginning in 1931, it was the Villa Beach Club, the Sunshine Beach & Pool Club, the Mir-a-Mar Beach Club, the Casino Beach and Pool Club, the North End Beach Club before finally it was the White Sands Beach Club in 1961.
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.
Ad for new White Sands Beach Club. Long Branch Daily Record, March 1961.
Sunshine Pool & Beach
Sunshine Beach Club, 1936. When the Ocean Avenue beach club opened in 1934 it had a 1,000 feet of beach and room for 1,000+ cars. Maurice O’Connell was its president.
Ad for Sunshine Beach & Pool Club. Long Branch Daily Record, July 1933. It later became the White Sands Beach Club.
Villa Beach Club
Promotion flyer for a “private beach club” in North End. Built at a cost of $350,000, the Villa Beach Club at North Long Branch opened in July 1931. A.T. Cummins was the builder/manager and Newton White was the first club president. Family membership for the summer was $100. The “spacious club” lasted only one summer and was sold at sheriff’s auction for $37,000 in November 1931. The land had been known as the “McConville estate.” The spot later became the White Sands Beach Club.
Mir-a-Mar Beach Club in North Long Branch. APP ad, June 1932. It had been the Villa Beach Club. When the newly-named club opened that summer it had a new pool.
USO Beach Club
USO beach club pavilion in North End, 1940s. Opened in June 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. For the exclusive use of US military service personal, family and friends.
Local soldiers get the USO Beach Club in North End really for another summer. LB Daily Record, April 1961. The facility was destroyed in a major December 1966 fire.
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.
USO beach club from above, 1950s.
The Beachcomber Club on Atlantic Avenue In North End, 1960s.
Lots of features, Long Branch Daily Record, May 1954.
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.
The Beachcomber along the LB oceanfront, 1966. Anthony “Ducky” Schiavo ran the business for several years until 1970 when he opened the nearby Peddler Bicycle Shop. A former school teacher, he died in 2001 at age 57.
The Beachcomber after a major storm, March 1962.
West End Casino
West End Casino beach club, 1940s. The club was built by Tillie Levy in the early 1930s.
West End Casino beach club twin pools, 1950s. After a major fire in 1965 club closed in 1966.
West End Casino, early 1900s.
West End Casino pool area, early 1930s.
West End Casino, 1920s.
West End Casino, 1905.
West End Casino, early 1900s.
Robert Tisch was an owner of the New York Giants. APP, January 1951.