Beach Haven History Book Set for June 1 Release

May 23, 2018

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Maritime Museum acquired a collection of photos taken in Beach Haven by Robert F. Engle, whose father built the Engleside Hotel in 1876. This became the inspiration for the latest book by Island residents Deborah Whitcraft and Gretchen Coyle, who have written a history of the Queen City as part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing.

The book will be available starting June 1; preorders are available through A book signing event is planned at the museum on Friday, June 8 from noon to 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

In addition, Arcadia published a smaller companion volume featuring 15 historic Beach Haven postcards.

This is the authors’ second work in the Arcadia series, having written a volume on Tucker’s Island. They also wrote Inferno At Sea: Stories of Death and Survival Aboard the Morro Castle.

The photo collection features scenes from the Beach Haven boardwalk, hotels, people fishing and boating, children playing on the beach, churches and various other landmarks.

“Most of the photos were taken in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” said Whitcraft, founder and president of the maritime museum.

She said the book focuses on Beach Haven between 1880 and 1940.

“We start out with the hotels and then the many families who came to the hotels and then later built homes,” Coyle explained. “But we also talk about the fire company and the first aid squad, groups that were the backbone of the community.”

Coyle said that while Beach Haven is prominently mentioned in various books on Island history, this will be the first volume devoted exclusively to the borough’s past.

“History isn’t history unless it’s shared, which is why it is so important to write about it and have people appreciate the past,” she said.

In the book, the authors noted how in Beach Haven’s early days, photography was becoming a huge interest.

“The start and growth of Beach Haven’s formative years were chronicled,” they wrote. “There were photographers located in Beach Haven’s two big hotels, the Baldwin and the Engleside. A Mr. Roper had a small shop in the Engleside Hotel. Some of his photographs were made into popular postcards.”

There are also pictures of people in wool bathing suits “enjoying the sand and fresh air and dipping into the Atlantic.”

“The popularity of fishing continued to draw visitors who came to the hire proud charter boat captains,” they wrote. “They were well spoken and extremely knowledgeable, providing bait, reels and a sense of where the best fish could be caught.”

For anyone interested in LBI history, this book is a catch not to be missed.

— Eric Englund


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