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 about 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 a lot 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 LB beach clubs and offer some 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
But there were a great many more. 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, 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 at 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.
Busy beach day at Pier Village, 2019. Most of city’s coastline is open to the public.
$3.2 million — City of Long Branch beach revenues for ’20 summer (2021 City Budget).
Humble beach beginnings in LB, 1870.
“The Bathing Hour” painting at LB, early 1900s.
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.
“Fully Clothed” — another early beach scene at Long Branch, 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.
Swimming at North End, 1970s.
“On the Beach at Long Branch, NJ” painting by Winslow Homer, 1867. His artwork on Long Branch is much prized.
Bluffs, beach and bathers at LB, 1875.
America’s #1 beach holiday, July 4, 2019 in Long Branch, NJ.
Rough surf at Long Branch, New York Illustrated News, 1863.
“On the Bluff at Long Branch” another one by Winslow Homer, 1870.
From North Long Branch looking south, 2018.
Sand replenishment near LB-MB border, 1995 (Jack Flaherty Photo).
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.
“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.
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 was organized in 1906 and still operates today. If so, then it’s the oldest beach club in Long Branch. William Rosenfeld was the first OBC president which included 25 charter members.
OBC on Ocean Avenue, 1966. Mr. Rosenfeld also was a city commissioner and successful diamond merchant. Born in Oregon in 1866, he donated $100,000 to Monmouth Memorial Hospital when he died in 1957.
Ocean Beach Club, 2020.
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 major fire. LB Daily Record, September 1938.
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 National Guard armory property, the club opened in Summer 2000.
Promenade Beach Club pool area, 2010s.
Super summer montage at Promenade Beach Club, 2020.
Promenade Beach Club, 2019. Club developers-owners James McDuffie, John Chimento and Joseph Lagrotteria acquired the 3.1-acre site from the city for $494,000 in 1999.
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 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, 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. The club, designed by H. Irving Braun, was called a “palatial arrangement of pools, cabanas and myriad other facilities for summer recreation” when opened in 1957.
Breakwater Beach Club, 2018.
Breakwater Beach Club pool area, 2017.
Breakwater Beach Club, 2020. Still operating in 2021.
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. The club 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, 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 EBC president, said that operations at the non-profit club began in 1921.
EBC — go hit the deck, 2019. During the 1930s, it was a private beach club for the Bloomingdale family and friends — the department store magnates.
EBC not so good: in ruins after Superstorm Sandy, 2013 (Tom Berg Photo).
City firefighters battle blaze at Elberon Beach Club, January 1975.
Elberon Bathing Club — end of another beach season, Fall 2020. New summer coming. (Lisa Karasic Photo).
Colony Surf Club
Colony Surf Club, 1938. The massive facility on Ocean Avenue in West End lasted four decades.
Colony Surf Club “Grand Opening.” Long Branch Daily Record, June 1934.
Colony Surf Club, 1935. Built during the early 1930s, 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, 1920s. 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. 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’s first swimming pool opened in 1902 (among the first on the Jersey Shore) and replaced by a modern one for Summer 1926 (Louis J. Sieling of Red Bank built it).
Cranmer’s Baths new swimming pool, 1927. According to his June 1931 APP obit, Isaac H. Cranmer started operations here about 1878. 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. Called a “pioneering establishment on the North Jersey coast,” Long Branch Daily Record, June 1940.
Cranmer’s pool, 1920s.
Cranmer’s Baths, 1978. In November 1948, M. Benjamin “Bennie” Cittadino bought the facility for $75,000. By then it had 1,100 lockers and two swimming pools. Cittadino, the owner for 30 years, died 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.
Cranmer’s Bath rules, 1964 (Dawn Rise Photo). The club also had an underground walking tunnel connecting pool to beach — the first in the area.
Children’s Playground on the corner of Chelsea and Ocean avenues, 1909. The building 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, 1960s. It opened at the corner of Ocean and Chelsea Avenues on July 4, 1925 with 700 lockers. Founding owners 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 — a 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.
Chelsea Baths pool, 1950s. Upon its opening in the May 1927, the all-concrete pool (135 x 60 feet) was the largest on the East Coast.
Chelsea Baths button, 1920s. Daniel Maher who owned the LB pier at the time, helped built the 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. It was all reworked and absorbed into a water-park with slide that opened in the late 1970s.
Chelsea Baths grand opening ad, 1925. According to the Long Branch Daily Record: “no expense is being spared” to make the establishment the best in the state.
Marv Conner sits near the Chelsea Baths “tunnel to the beach,” 1956-57. It was 110-foot long and opened in 1925. Behind him is “Pauline’s” — a restaurant run by Pauline Manetti. Her family later opened Cafe Bar on the boardwalk.
Trying the water at Chelsea Baths, 1950s.
Chelsea Baths pool area, 1956.
Chelsea Bahts, LB Daily Record, August 1964. Manager Pat Cicalese added the pool chutes in 1964.
Chelsea Baths also had an across the street beach — a busy one too. Note the flag at top left. Probably in the 1940s.
Chelsea Baths beach pavilion wrecked by the Hurricane of 1944.
Chelsea Baths pool-to-beach tunnel, 1960s.
Columbia Baths postcard, 1920s. 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 on Ocean Avenue, 1909. The facility opened in 1901; Burns and Tappin were the developers. Leon Cubberley was the 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 Van Hise (1910), Isador Wolf (in 1917) and Lewis Proctor.
Columbia Baths, 1902. By the early-1960s, the Cicalese family owned the club; calling it Columbia Health Spa.
Columbia Baths opposite the LB boardwalk, 1909.
Takanassee Beach Club
In the beginning … Takanassee Beach Club. Long Branch Daily Record, June 1932.
A banner day at the Takanassee Beach Club, 1970s.
Takanassee Beach Club abandoned, 2011. Starting its 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 historic buildings. Pretty select stuff.
US Life-Saving Service building at LB, early 1908. That 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 parts of the Takanassee Beach Club.
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. It all closed in 2006.
Takanassee Beach Club remains in West End, 2009.
Takanassee Beach Club lifeguards, 1976. 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 property owner.
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 gone to seed (or sand), 2008. The first pool was opened in 1963.
Takanassee Beach Club from above, 2006.
Surfside Beach Club
Huyler’s Candy Company store on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1909. Later to become the Surfside Beach Club, Huyler’s was a popular NYC area candy and restaurant chain that operated from 1874 to 1964. Chocolate was their specialty. Milton Hershey got his start in a Huyler’s store.
Surfside Beach Club entrance on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1950s.
Surfside Pool & Cabana Club, 1960s. John and “Boots” 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.
Surfside Beach Club aerial image, 1950s.
Surfside Beach Club pool area, 1960s.
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 a LB Daily Record report, 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.
Sketch proposal for new Elberon Surf Club. Long Branch Daily Record, 1957. That was the year the club incorporated as a non-profit. By Dec. 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. First in 1931 it was the Villa Beach Club, then Sunshine Beach & Pool Club, then the Mir-a-Mar Beach Club, the Casino Beach and Pool Club, and 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.
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, 1930s. The casino was built by Tillie Levy.
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.