The year was 1869, and a group of spiritual lay leaders assembled to form the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and incorporate the town of Ocean Grove. Now New Jersey’s finest year-round family seashore resort, this square mile of natural beauty has welcomed and delighted vacationers, including U.S. presidents, for over a century. On Ocean Grove’s tree-lined streets is the largest assemblage of authentic Victorian architecture in the nation.
This national historic site located on the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail is a world famous shore resort know for its beauty, tranquility and Victoriana. Ocean Grove reflects the popular architectural styles of the second half of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century. Ocean Grove has become a mecca for thousands of visitors seeking a quiet, restful vacation spent away from the hustle-bustle of today’s busy lifestyle.
Ocean Grove is a town rich in Victorian architecture, tree-lined streets, lakes, and parks. The main avenue is “Small Town USA” with a variety of restaurants, quaint shops and stores providing daily necessities of life. Easily accessible by car, train and bus, the Grove is about an hour from Philadelphia and New York City.
Although, development has taken place over the years, Ocean Grove has maintained much of its original character. In 1975, it was placed on the NJ Register of Historic Places and in 1976 it was entered in the National Register of Historic Places.
Beersheba is the first well driven in Ocean Grove. It is an artesian well and was originally a common pump with a tin cup attached. The picturesque structure still exists. It is maintained by the Historical Society of Ocean Grove and serves as it’s official logo.
Ocean Grove Tent Community - Perhaps the most unique aspect of Neptune Township is the tent community that exists in the Ocean Grove section of the Township. The tents date back to the campmeeting movement shortly after the end of the Civil War when Rev. William Osburn set out to establish a Methodist campmeeting along the New Jersey shore that would be “A place set apart, preferably on the seashore, not too near thickly populated areas, suitable for camping and religious services, available for sale or long-term lease.” In the Summer of 1869, he located about 300 acres between Long Pond (now Wesley Lake and Goose Pond (now Fletcher Lake) which was thick with trees and high sand dunes. Rev. Osburn rounded up a company of Methodist Reverends who pitched tents in a clearing (in what is now Founders Park) and on the night of July 31, 1869 held a prayer meeting. By the next summer, the founders had received a charter from the State of New Jersey as the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. By that time, hundreds of tents were erected housing those who desired the pleasure of a Christian seaside resort.
The growth of Ocean Grove and its tents through the 1870s was phenomenal. Unfettered by the fast pace of today’s society, Ocean Grove has made a conscious effort to change very little and the tradition of “tenting” continues today in the area surrounding the Great Auditorium. The tents of today consist of a wooden rear structure with bathroom and kitchen facilities and a front tent area with canvas walls and cover over a wood blank floor. Generations of families continue the tradition of tenting in Ocean Grove during the summer months. The waiting list to lease a tent for the summer is long as many seek this unique experience of community and spiritual renewal. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a stroll though “Tent City” will reveal colorful gardens, an American flag flapping from each tent in a sea breeze and a friendly wave and hello from those in rocking chairs on the front porch. Tent City is a truly remarkable experience of a by-gone era that through tradition and religious commitment is alive and well in the 21st century.