Beaches and Boats, Then and Now Art Exhibit at Beach Haven Borough Hall

By PAT JOHNSON | Aug 28, 2019
Courtesy of: LBI Historical Association Museum ‘4th of July Celebration’4, historic photo of Beach Haven. The celebration included a washtub race.

Beach Haven — “Beaches and Boats: Then and Now” is a collaboration between Beach Haven’s historical groups and Pine Shores Art Association artists to inform and delight visitors to Beach Haven Borough Hall, on the corner of Engleside and Bay avenues. The photos are turn of the 20th century images of people enjoying the beach, though the surf and beach attire is shocking for a different reason: woolen bathing suits that cover everything. Long Beach Island historian Ron Marr said some images were taken by Helen Wilson Green (1879-1966), who “had a devotion to photography and Beach Haven that contributes to the rich visual history of our community.”

“The architectural firm of her father, John Alston Wilson, designed the Baldwin Hotel and its two onion domes, several cottages on Coral Street, and the Episcopal church, which is now the LBI Historical Society Museum. Helen married Morris Green in 1910. They had five children and spent most summers at 123 Coral St. (the ‘double chimney’ house).

“She was an enthusiastic and energetic summer resident who made valuable contributions to the community all her adult life, serving on the boards of the First Aid Squad, Beach Haven Library, Red Cross, and Ladies Auxiliary of Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club. Her glass photography slides capturing scenes of early Beach Haven are in the collection of the LBI Historical Association,” wrote Marr.

One of Green’s photos, “Building Sand Castles,” shows a child dressed in black or navy from head to toe and digging in the sand.

LBI historian Jeanette Lloyd gives these details of the “Beach Haven Boardwalk” photograph: “This 1890’s photograph by Robert Fry Engle shows Beach Haven’s Centre Street pavilion and a busy beach day with children digging in the sand, people strolling on the boardwalk and two Engleside lifeguards standing by their lifeboat. Engle’s family owned the Engleside Hotel; its tower is in the background, along with the pyramid roof of the hotel’s boardwalk store.”

She gives a brief history of the once-iconic hotel. “In 1875 Robert Barclay Engle purchased the block that is now Veterans Park and built an elegant hotel. Construction began on January 1, 1876 and with no electrical, plumbing or heating, it was ready for occupancy in six months. There were no artesian wells or bathrooms; barrels of drinking and cooking water were ferried over from the mainland. A five-story ornamental belfry tower added in the 1890s boasted four levels of breezy ocean-view porches full of wicker rockers. The Engleside was a fabulous success for decades and stayed open every year until October. Robert Fry Engle took over its control when his father died in 1901. Lacking modernization, the hotel started fading in the 1930s and closed in 1940. Robert Fry Engle died three years later at age 75, leaving behind a wealth of good memories and hundreds of priceless photographs from an era when he and Beach Haven were young.”

Artists from Pine Shores Art Association were asked to paint with the theme “Beaches and Boats.” To contrast with Green’s photo of the child digging in the sand, Paul Daukas painted “Daddy’s Girl,” of a child enjoying the beach in contemporary dress.

The historic photograph “Schooner at Fish Factory” taken by W.C. Jones of Tuckerton and reprinted by his granddaughter Cathleen Engelsen is contrasted by PSAA artist Tom Pickle’s detailed watercolor “Fitting Out,” of a schooner getting ready for sea in a maritime village much like those at the Jersey Shore.

Engelsen herself, a historic painter, offers one of her shore prints of “Polly’s Dock,” a Beach Haven fixture, still renting boats and offering seafood and snacks.

Artist Lisa Budd offers oil paintings of a decrepit fish factory on Crab Island at sunset, “Still Standing,” and another iconic landmark, “Holgate Watertower.”

Other paintings of boats include “Old Boats,” acrylic painting by Danny Ng; “Fire at Sea,” mixed media painting by Dennis Millar; and “Batten Down,” watercolor by Jim Maloney. Maloney also paints Coast Guard cutters at work. Paul Hartelius painted an iconic picture of a tranquil sailboat in “Sunset Rocks.”

The beach pictures take many forms and moods. High noon is painted by Ray Haworth in “Summer Dunes.” Willy Mueller paints the turbulent sea in “On the Big Rocks,” and Carlo Gaboardi titled his ocean scene “Rough Surf,” though it is painted in soft pastel tones.

Two beach scenes include a lighthouse: Carol Freas’ watercolor “Tucker’s Light,” and Thomas Foster’s watercolor of the same name.

Suzi Hoffman took a chance by offering a charcoal and conté crayon piece titled “Reflections,” of a youngster searching the shore for sea life that is quite ethereal.

In all, there are 30 paintings on display through Sept. 9. This refreshing show is open to visitors during borough hall hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is a list of artist contacts available if you decide to purchase a painting.

The photographs are on loan from the Beach Haven Public Library Museum, LBI Historical Association Museum, New Jersey Maritime Museum and Lawrence Oliphant of Unshredded Nostalgia.

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