In 1875, ninety-nine years after the American Revolution, present-day Spring Lake consisted of a clear blue lake called "Fresh Creek Pond", three farms, the isolated homes of rugged fishermen, and an embryo summer town called "Brighton". 28 years later Spring Lake was a fashionable resort of elegance. The transformation from farmland to a famous seaside resort was accompolished through the efforts of 4 seperate groups.
In 1903, the 4 areas were united into current Spring Lake. The town boasted the finest hotels, pretentious private cottages and lavish estates - a center of social gaiety famous throughout America. The pond, now named "Spring Lake", remained a beautiful body of crystal clear water surrounded by a lovely park in the center.
Above: A Budding Spring Lake, From Atop The Monmouth House circa 1898
Present day Spring Lake is composed of four older seashore developments: Villa Park (Reid Farm), Spring Lake Beach (Osborn Farm), Brighton-North Brighton (Walling and Ludlow tracts), and Como (Morton and Curtis farms).
was the keystone of Spring Lake Beach, the Brightons had "Willburton-by-the-Sea" for their hotel. The "Villa Park House" was erected in Villa Park. Como had no hotel. Railroad stations were opened in the four communities and the land was divided into avenues and lots.
In 1873 Ocean Beach (now Belmar) and Brighton (now part of Spring Lake) were formed. Brighton was originally conceived by Joseph Tuttle of Newark and William Reid of Wall Township as a summer resort (similar to Ocean Beach) for families from Northern New Jersey. In 1873 Brighton Avenue was formed connecting the Squan Turnpike (Route 71) to the ocean.
In July of 1880, C. Wilbur Tuttle (Joseph Tuttle's nephew) and Robert M. Worthington assumed the task of completing the town of New Brighton. By September streets were paved, trees planted and construction started on nine cottages. A small railroad station called "Sea Plain" was built on Brighton Ave, but later abandoned in favor of the Spring Lake Beach station.
Construction of the Wilburton-By-the-Sea hotel pictured above (now The Breakers) was completed in 1882. It was four stories high with two towers and wide verandas giving guests an unobstructed view of the ocean. It stands at Newark and Ocean Ave, continuing to provide weddings, banquets and year-round accomodations for guests.
Picture on left Wilburton (The Breakers) 1895 c. Sheila Cody
The Breakers on the Ocean has the distinction of being the only full service hotel located on the ocean in Spring Lake. The Hotel has since been through numerous renovations preserving the integrity of the past, while updating the interior to incorporate 21st century amenities. The serene ocean atmosphere, the unique feeling of the Hotel and the charm of Spring Lake all come together to create the special environment that is The Breakers on the Ocean.
The business district for Brighton and North Brighton was established in 1881 on Third Avenue between Jersey and Washington Avenues. Two stores: Oliver H. Brown's Furniture Store and William Potter's Dry Goods Store (then Ye Towne Shop) were the anchors. In 1884 North Brighton and the Ludlow's farm were incorporated as "North Spring Lake".
In 1903, North Spring Lake merged with Spring Lake for economic reasons and the towns of Brighton and North Brighton vanished. O.H. Brown became the first mayor and and served until his death in 1924 (minus 2 years).
Pictured Left: Ludlow Homestead - This spacious farmhouse was part of a large farm owned by Captain Samuel Ludlow who acquired the land from his father-in-law Jacob I. Smith in 1859. Captain Ludlow was a man of many talents: he owned and captained a coastal vessel, a brick yard, and a prosperous shad fishery. From 1863 - 1881 he was keeper of the U.S.L.S.S station at Spring Lake. In 1882 he sold his farm for $100,000 and it became part of Brighton.
With developments the Ludow's farm became streets and lots, but the Ludlow farmhouse remained.
The Tuttle Farmhouse pictured below was constructed during the Civil War as the homestead of Joseph Bennett. On his farm Bennett raised corn, wheat, oats, cattle, pigs and chicken.
The Layton House pictured below
was built to accomodate travelling peddlers and craftsmen. The house was later converted into a fashionable guest house.
The center of the early bridge was raised to allow the passage of a horse and ice cutter. Winters were colder in the 1880's and inexpensive ice was both plentiful and essential to the local fishing industry. The tip of the lake house shown on the top photograph above the trees as does the Chateau Motel (Chateau Inn and Suites) still existing on Warren and 5th Avenues.
This is the north side of Wreck Pond, the site of cedar grove where the farmers camped to celebrate "Big Sea Day."
The Missouri building is on the left, the New Hampshire building is the large one in the center. In the distance, on the right, is the Monmouth House, the Monmouth Stables and the Globe Hotel.
In 1875 construction of Ocean Road was completed and this connected Route 71 to the ocean. This divided two towns with "Rogers Villa Park" on the north and "Reid's Villa Park" on the south. That year the railroad was finished, the Ocean Grove Record called Reid's town an embryo summer city where Reid sold a number of choice cottage sites to prominent New Yorkers.
In 1888 the two parks were merged into "Villa Park". When Spring Lake Borough incorporated in 1892, the portion east of the railroad became part of the borough.
The Spring Lake Inn (circa 1888) pictured on the left was erected by Timothy Hurley as “Timothy Hurley's Grand Central Stables Carriage House,” a stagecoach stop with hotel rooms on the top floors for the coachmen. In 1975, Pat Giblin and Fran Allison purchased and renovated the hotel. During their ownership, they rented out the kitchen and dining room to proprietors who ran a restaurant separate from the hotel. By 1982, the Spring Lake Hotel, Inc. purchased the restaurant under the management of Stanley Klos. His purpose was “ to combine Spring Lake's charm with business and academia.” The next owners in 1986 were Linda and Bill Polsney who added a new porch and private bathrooms for the 15 guest rooms.
The Spring Lake Beach area remained isolated, dependent upon farmin and fishing, until 1875. In 1874, a Philadelphia clergyman was impressed by the smooth white beach beach and beauty of the lake that sat on the Osborn farm. He then campaigned to turn this farm into a resort for Philadelphians by creating a seaside resort.
Contracts were then in place to build a hotel called "The Monmouth House" located at the south end of the lake, just fifty yards from the ocean. Work started May 26, 1875. Twenty teams of horses and forty men began buidling the hotel, its stables, real estate office and grading of the oceanfront and avenues.
In November 1875, The Monmouth's foundations were started and construction proceeded through a severe winter. The stables at the southwest corner of Atlantic and First Avenues were completed first and used as a boarding house for workmen constructing the hotel.
The Monmouth House was completed in March of 1876 and opened in June. 233 feet long, four stories high with 270 bedrooms, dining room seating for 1,000 guests and 2 large parlors overlooking the ocean.
A fleet of small boats carried people from Ocean Grove. Horse drawn omnibuses carried guests from the railroad station to the Monmouth House and Spring Lake Beach.
By 1877, two additional hotels were constructed, the Carlton House across from the Monmouth House and the Lake House across from the railroad station. Several smaller B&B's that opened included: Hulett Cottage (106 Sussex Ave.), the Ocean House (102 Sussex), and the Palmer House (107 Monmouth). 25 cottages were also completed with the finest for Dr. A.A. Willits (410 Passaic Ave). Spring Lake was on its way to becoming a resort of distinction.
Below is a nortwest view of The Colonial Hotel at the corner of First and Sussex Avenues. A quiet group of gathers on the porch enjoying the fall breezes. The Colonial was first known as the "Ocean House" then "The Baltimore," after that "The Colonial Hotel." Today after more than one hundred years, it has returned to the original identification of the Ocean House.