Beach Haven the Latest in Arcadia ‘Images’ Series

Apr 11, 2018

Recently, the New Jersey Maritime Museum acquired a collection of photos taken in town by Robert F. Engle, whose father built the Engleside Hotel in 1876. This became the inspiration for the latest book by Deborah Whitcraft and Gretchen Coyle, who have written a history of Beach Haven as part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing. This is their second work in the Arcadia series, having written a volume on Tucker’s Island. They also are the authors of Inferno At Sea: Stories of Death and Survival Aboard the Morro Castle. 

“The photo collection features scenes from the boardwalk, the hotels, people fishing, children playing on the beach,” said Whitcraft, founder and president of the museum. “Most of the photos were taken in the late 1800s and early 1900s.”

Coyle said the photos came from an antiques dealer in Texas.

“How he got a hold of the photos remains a mystery,” she said. “He did some research online and found the maritime museum and decided to contact Deb.”

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

“Beach Haven is very rich in history,” she said. ”We start out with the hotels and then the many families who came to the hotels and then later built homes. 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.

 ”I first came to Beach Haven in the 1950s, and I remember riding my bike as a child, fascinated by the old Victorian homes,” she said. “But 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.’

Whitcraft said the book will not be available for sale until June.

“At that time, we’re planning on a fully catered book signing event at the museum,” she said. “After that, we’ll probably set up talks at the libraries and other groups.” —E.E.


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