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Spring Lake History

History of Spring Lake

New Jersey’s oceanfront community of Spring Lake is rich in history, its early development spurred by the introduction of railroad service that came to the area in the 1870’s. Unquestionably a place with heart, it was the heyday of the rich and famous enjoying summer months of uncompromised luxury, immediately after the closing of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Enterprising individuals purchased and transported intact buildings, lumber and artifacts to Spring Lake where they were used for hotels, private homes and other structures.

The name Spring Lake came from a spring-fed body of water that was in the center of what was a collection of separate little communities – Brighton, Como, Villa Park, Spring Lake Beach (to name but a few) - existing for years as large farm tracts. The 1889 Wolverton Atlas mentions that the name of the lake “Fresh Pond” was changed to Spring Lake and a newspaper story described it as a deep, freshwater lake that was ‘so clear’ one could recognize a coin at the bottom of its deepest part.

Each successive decade brought drama to ‘The Irish Riviera’, Spring Lake’s nickname then AND now. The people, their pedigrees, the lavish grand hotels beginning with The New Monmouth in 1876, The Fire of 1900 that consumed most of the town’s businesses, homes and cottages, intense passions that early residents brought to this small hamlet…it’s a 130+ year history book chronicled in numerous books, family albums, maps, photographs and endless postcards!

Spring Lake’s Historical Society brings all of the decades together from preserved archives of barren farm land (1870’s) to Martin Maloney’s legendary estate Ballingary (1905). It’s a visual time-machine that transports visitors to a time of manners, parasol strolls along the beach and omni-buses (horse-drawn taxis) spotted lined up along the ocean and lake.

Equally as extensive as its architectural records are the photographs and postcards of each of the bygone eras. It was a tasteful and powerful bunch…the sophistication of summertime clientele is evident in the imaginative surviving churches, private estates and grand Memorial Community House.

Spring Lake was a dream – affluent and influential visionaries were able to transform this ‘garden spot’ into a tradition of enduring legacies – the non-commercial boardwalk, the classic train station, the stunning picturesque lake with its pedestrian bridges making memories in everyone’s family albums, reminiscences of tea dances at the New Monmouth Hotel and one brief moment in time that stands still just by gazing down any of its pristine avenues today.

Leigh Cort

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