by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.
If the current heatwave has you wishing that you could spend a couple of weeks at the Jersey Shore, then imagine a time when $12 could book you a week’s stay in a furnished room at the elegant oceanfront Harbor Inn in Stone Harbor.
A 1919 ad for Stone Harbor in the Philadelphia Inquirer boasted, “Twenty degrees cooler than Philadelphia.”
At the beginning of the 20th century, Stone Harbor offered many options for accommodations.
As “New Stone Harbor” developed and took shape, a demand arose for hotels and apartment houses. They helped create a resort community that continues to this day being called “The Seashore At Its Best.”
Stone Harbor’s first permanent structure was the Abbottsford Inn, which opened for business on July 4, 1892, at 83rd Street facing and close to the ocean. New ownership renamed it Harbor Inn.
The early postcard view above shows the new Harbor Inn in all its splendor hosting many guests and perhaps hotel staff assembled for this striking photo opportunity. Open all the year, this hotel was under the management of Neiman and Eisenhuth, formerly of the Clarendon at Atlantic City.
Unfortunately, by the latter 1920s, the Harbor Inn had fallen into a state of neglect and disrepair. This postcard view illustrates its derelict state prior to its being demolished. Unlike the previous image, this view shows the hotel without its distinctive cupola-like roof over the 4th-floor open-air observation deck and the usual well-maintained grounds have been neglected.
On August 1, 1912, a new hotel named the Shelter Haven Hotel opened and it would become the largest building in Stone Harbor.
This building was located at 96th Street and Third Avenue and overlooked the Shelter Haven Basin. This 5-story structure was a popular place to stay and would become the so-called hub of the town due to its central location on the boulevard that led directly into the downtown business district.
Offering 60 elegant guest rooms, Shelter Haven Hotel provided many amenities including a dining room, a barbershop, a pool room, a cafe, a roof garden with splendid views, and a private dock and wharf with excursion boats operating daily service to nearby Anglesea in North Wildwood. Over the years and until its demolition in 1960, ownership had changed as many as twelve times.
The hotel is prominent in the background of this postcard photo of Shelter Haven Harbor taken at 99th Street in what one would call the Back Bay area.
Located conveniently at 96th Street and built on the boardwalk that was also constructed in 1914, The Casino provided a variety of entertainment.
However that idea was soon scrapped and the building underwent a transformation to a hotel, then to apartments, and finally to a rooming house. Research indicates that this building was destroyed in the devastating 1962 Nor’easter storm.
The popular Alba Apartments were located directly across the boardwalk from the Municipal Pier that housed some small shops and a theatre.
The color postcard above shows people leisurely strolling the boardwalk with the Alba Apartments (misspelled as “Abla“) in the background on the left and the majestic Municipal Pier extending out into the ocean. The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 was responsible for destroying both of these buildings as well as the entire 1.5-mile-long boardwalk. The boardwalk was never rebuilt.
Both images above depict the Channel Apartments located on Sunset Drive at 94th Street overlooking the Great Channel. This building opened in 1913 offered six fully furnished suites, each with five rooms and a bath. Notice the large front and rear porches.
The Dunbar was located on Corinthian Drive overlooking the Stone Harbor Yacht Basin. While originally built to house patients with medical conditions requiring nursing care, this building later served as a boarding house and an apartment building. Note again the town water tower seen behind and to the left of this building in this c1914 photo.
All we know about this structure is what the caption on the lower portion of this advertising postcard states: “This Apartment House for Rent or Sale: all conveniences. See Larsen Contracting Co., Stone Harbor, N.J”.
This c1920 postcard shows several persons who possibly have just arrived in two snazzy automobiles at the seashore for a stay at the two-story Clapper Apartments.
Located at 107th Street and Sunset Drive, the two-story Wister Apartment building is quite representative of apartment houses during this early period of development.
By comparison, this rather large house was known as the Seamen & Letzkus Apartments, which were conveniently located near the center of Stone Harbor with the prominent water tower nearby in the background. Due to the risk of both bay and ocean flooding on the island, it was built on pilings.
Yet another of the popular apartment houses built in Stone Harbor, The Fairview was also elevated above the ground, and it had two wrap-around open porches for enjoying those ocean breezes.
The first postcard below shows the Duval Hotel. Over time, like many early buildings in Stone Harbor, it would serve many different purposes.
The Duval later converted to apartments bearing the name Turpins Apartments. Eventually, in 1939 the building changed over to become a well-known ice cream shop known as Springer’s Ice Cream Shop which is still in existence today. It has become a tradition among vacationers both young and old. The little Real Estate office shown attests to the popularity and growth of the housing market and rental properties in Stone Harbor at that time.
Located at 108th Street and Third Avenue, Ye Olde Tea House was a popular gathering place that offered customers a quiet and comfortable place to sit and relax with an indoor sun-parlor. It might well be considered the counterpart to today’s Starbucks coffee houses.
An American flag flies atop this three-story apartment building. Shown in this c1930 postcard, Stone Harbor Apartments was located on the Great Channel overlooking the inland waterway and the mainland.
The Big Stick, located at 97th Street and Second Avenue, was renamed Haslet’s Hotel.
Still later in the 1940s, it became known as the Sherwood House.
The proprietors advertised “all outside guest rooms and central to all activities”.
Finally, these last three postcards show typical apartment housing in early Stone Harbor. The first shows the Van Thuyne Apartments and Garages located at 172-74 85th Street. The Bihlmaier was situated on Third Avenue and Eighty-eighth Street and The Colonial was on Great Channel and Sunset Drive near One-Hundredth Street.
Incidentally, according to a CPI Inflation Calculator, $12 for that week’s stay in 1910 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $340.04 today, an increase of $328.04 over 111 years. If only one could get a place for that!