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Picket Fences: 1905

Ocean Grove, New Jersey, circa 1905. "Tent life." Looks relaxing, doesn't it?  8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Ocean Grove, New Jersey, circa 1905. "Tent life." Looks relaxing, doesn't it? 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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That's my tent!

Great photo! We are the current residents of this particular tent and have been since 1972. The more current photo someone posted in comments shows that the little fence is gone and has been replaced with a hedge. While not as picturesque it does show a bit more security and privacy.

Plate 15

Here's a terrific map of Ocean Grove, dated 1889:

And an undated one here.

Somewhere in Time

Ok, curiosity got the best of me and I drove the extra 5 minutes to Ocean Grove on the way home.

I took this photo from almost the same location as the original photographer. Despite the fact that much of the physical components of the area have been replaced since 1906, the original wood structure appears to be the same and the tents look somewhat similar.

A variety of Ocean Grove photos that I've taken can be seen on my New Jersey photo collection.


Ocean Grove

is still a dry town. My friends have visited, said that the big treat is to get an ice cream cone down near the beach. Most folks drive over to Point Pleasant for liquid refreshment.

Stop Thief!

Hmmm. I wonder what the reward being offered was for.


The tent expands the living space available to the tenters. Over the winter, the tents are removed and all furniture is stored in the wooden structure. The tenters are a community all to themselves,

The entire town ("God's Square Mile") is owned by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association ( Most of the town is now permanent homes, not tents. The town is a National Historic District for the hundreds of wonderfully preserved Victorian and Queen Anne homes.

This was typical

The tent platform with the frame structure at the back was typical of such places - Chautauqua, NY, Lakeside, OH, and Bay View, MI, are three that come to mind. They also began as Methodist summer settlements. Not rental necessarily, Thomas Edison married into the Miller family that was one of the founders of Chautauqua. He would visit there throughout his life. The Miller cottage is still there - still owned by the family.

Contemporary styling

Today the tent would be termed "outdoor living room". It's all the rage on TV and in the magazines, but is an old idea. Wonder where they keep the grill?

Ocean Grove Buildings

The main buildings -- just 114 sheds, really, with facilities -- stand throughout the year. But each spring, renters unfurl the tents and customize each one with furnishings, flowers and the like. Some are fourth or fifth generation visitors. Presidents at the turn of the last century often visited, including William McKinley and James Garfield, who died not far away in Elberon, NJ. President Ulysses S. Grant arrived in 1875, found the gates locked due to the prohibition on carriages, and simply tethered his horses and walked to his sister's cottage. Times were different back then. So were presidents.

They Still Have Tents

I snapped this shot a couple of years ago. The "tent people" still return to Ocean Grove every summer.

Ocean Grove isn't known as much as a religiously tolerant town--until 1981, they actually put a barrier up on the one road in and out of the area on Sundays because they didn't allow driving on Sunday. Also, until not too long before that time, you wouldn't have been able to lease a house (all homes are leased for 99 year periods, you don't "own" a home there) if you were Catholic or a Jew.

Tent Makeover

The settlement began as a Methodist tent camp, but living in tents down the Jersey shore year-round proved untenable. So frame structures were added on to the back.

Those homes are insanely expensive now.

Methodist camp

Ocean Grove was one of several Methodist camps in New Jersey and elsewhere. Over time, many of the tents were replaced with cottages.,_New_Jersey

Ocean Grove

This community was set up for revival meetings, and also to be close to the beach. People, by no means rich ones, would come in every summer for the revival meetings. There was a big tabernacle for that sort of thing. The permanent house in back would hold the kitchen and the necessaries, and the tent up front would hold the parlour and bedrooms.

They used to put up a gate to shut the town off every Sunday, lest anybody desecrate the Sabbath. It is all still there, although the gate is no longer in use.

Tent in front, house in back?

I guess I don't understand the design here. I see a wood-frame house at the back, and tent up front. I'm assuming it's a rental-type arrangement, but I'm not sure what purpose the tent serves.

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