Beach Haven Library Museum Seeking Artifacts

By ERIC ENGLUND | Jun 05, 2019
Courtesy of: Anna Serbek

Beach Haven — Are you a Beach Haven resident with photographs, documents and artifacts related to borough history? If so, the coordinators of the one-room museum on the second floor of the Beach Haven Public Library would be very interested.

“If you have something of interest, all you have to do is bring it to the library, have in scanned and then you can take it back home,” said borough historian Jeanette Lloyd. Currently, the museum is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

“The main purpose of this museum is a place for people who want to research history about Beach Haven,” said Lloyd, the widow of author/historian John Bailey Lloyd. “We’re not dealing with the history of the whole Island; this is exclusively all about Beach Haven.”

Established 11 years ago by Jeanette Lloyd, the museum contains photos, hotel ledgers, diaries, deeds, newspaper clippings, whale bones and other artifacts from Beach Haven’s earliest years.

“Our ledgers are from the Engleside Hotel, the Parry House and Thomas Bond’s Long Beach House,” said Lloyd. “These books date back to the 19th century.”

She said the museum features approximately 240 binders, all dealing with numerous historical topics such as the histories of Beach Haven’s first families, railroads, the elementary school, yacht clubs, hotels, fire company, baymen and fishermen.

“We hope that many people take advantage of the library museum and that it can grow into something very special,” she said. “We’re still a work in progress.”

Lloyd said that over several winters, she and library director Jean Frazier finished the herculean task of poring through and organizing the many boxes filled with historical information.

“These were part of my husband’s collection,” she said.

Having a museum at the library is very fitting because of the historical nature of the facility.

“The intent was always to have a museum at the library,” Lloyd said. “There was one once before, but now we’ve revived it.”

According to the Beach Haven Library website, attempts to establish a library in Beach Haven had begun as early as the 1880s with a gift of books for the town’s children from Dr. Edward Williams, who, along with Charles Parry of the Parry House and the Baldwin Hotel, was a partner in the Baldwin Locomotive Works. The collection was kept in the home of Charles Copperthwaite on Engleside Avenue, and eventually in one of the Sunday School rooms at the Kynett United Methodist Church, which had been built in 1890.

After the old Quaker meeting house had been given to the town by Walter Pharo, the Rev. Alexander Corson of the Methodist Church undertook to make it into a viable library and by the time Corson and his wife left Beach Haven in 1908, it was well on its way.

In 1923, Elizabeth Pharo, in memory of her husband and his parents, Archilaus Ridgway Pharo and Louisa Willits Pharo, presented the board of the library with a proposal to build, at her own expense, a new library two blocks away from the church at the corner of a lot owned by her at Third Street and Beach Avenue.

The proposal was immediately accepted, and R. Brognard Okie, a leading Philadelphia architect, was contacted  by Pharo. Okie wanted to design and pattern it after a Pennsylvania farmhouse. But unlike a traditional farmhouse, it would be made entirely with brick and steel, along with three working fireplaces, a vaulted ceiling and an interior balcony circling the first floor.

By the spring of 1924, the facility’s steel girders were in place. Okie moved to Beach Haven and supervised every detail of construction, which was all done by local builder Floyd Cranmer. Ten railcar loads of bricks were used to build the solid outer walls.

As it neared completion in the late fall of 1924, the building was drawing a lot of praise. To offset the whiteness of walls, all the windows were hung with shutters of pale green. It also featured a multi-dormered black roof. Surrounded by a low, white picket fence and a well-kept green lawn, it added an incomparable dignity to what then was the town’s main avenue, Beach Avenue.

It formally opened in Nov. 29, 1924. There was one section called “For Women Only,” where ladies could browse through their favorite books and magazines. On comfortable summer afternoons, it had a screened porch with wicker rockers for people to enjoy relaxed reading time.

Anyone with historical items can call the library at 609-492-7081.

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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