The story of Ocean Grove is rich in the history of women's struggle to achieve social, political and economic equality. Ocean Grove has provided the setting and inspiration for thousand of woman striving to enrich the lives of others through their religious and social programs. Among the most outstanding events were the Suffrage conventions which Ocean Grove hosted in the Great Auditorium, the Tabernacle, and the Youth Temple, making the historical district by far one of the most important women's sites in the state. From the first prayer meeting lead by Mrs. Joseph H. Thornley in her tent in Founders Park to New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman's speaking engagement at the Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove continues to provide an environment that fosters Woman's diverse and creative endeavors.
The goal of the Ocean Grove Women's Heritage Trail is to inspire interest in Ocean Grove and women's history, and to honor and recognize those women who have contributed to our local, state, and national heritage. We hope to achieve this by celebrating the important roles that women play in our country's history.
Walk with us on the Ocean Grove Women's Heritage Trail and trace the steps of famous women including Dr. Ann Howard Shaw, Marion Anderson, and Carrie Nation, and become part of the story by rediscovering the often forgotten accomplishments of our great American Heroines.
Site 1 – Great Auditorium
This is the fourth Auditorium to be built on this site and was constructed in 1894. It has a history of fostering women's organizations through religious, political, social, and cultural programs. Organization including Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), women's Encouragement Meetings, Women's Foreign Missionary Society, International Order of the King's Daughters, Women's Home Missionary Society, African Methodist, Episcopal Jubilee, and Women's Suffrage Associations.
Women associated with events in the Auditorium are Sarah Jane Corson Downs; Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard; Kate Gorden; Dr. Ann H. Shaw; Carrie Lane Chapman Catt; Annie Turner Whittenmyer; Marion Anderson; Pearl Bailey; Helen Keller; Dale Evens; Fanny Crosby; Mrs. Jesse R. Grant Mother of Ulysses S. Grant; Mrs. James A. Garfield; Margaret Wilson, Woodrow Wilson's Daughter; Amanda Berry Smith; Mme. Schumann-Heink; Alma Gluck and Emma Eames.
Site 2 – Bishop Janes Tabernacle
Built in 1877, the tabernacle is the oldest of the Camp Meeting buildings. Amanda B. Smith gave many of her sermons at this site.
Site 3 – The Young Peoples Temple
The present temple was dedicated in 2002 and replaces an earlier structure destroyed by fire. The first temple was enlarged in four stages in 1879, 1883, 1885 and 1887. Organizations associated with the earlier building included the WCTU, speakers Annie T. Wittenmyer, Dr. Anna H. Shaw, Mrs. Powell Bond and Sarah J. C. Downs; Women's Encouragement Meeting women's Foreign and Home Missionary Societies; and Women's Suffrage Associations with speakers Dr. Anna H. Shaw and Carrie L. C. Catt.
Site 4 – The Tents
Circling the Great Auditorium the tents are an integral part of the Camp Meeting experience. Amanda B. Smith was provided a tent by the OGCMA, as was Mrs. Stephen Crane, mother of the author Stephen Crane, who also summered in Ocean Grove before settling in Asbury Park. The psalmists Fanny Crosby and Phoebe Knapp also summered in the tents.
The first well drilled in Ocean Grove in 1870 was named Beersheba well. It was the site of temperance Lecture given by Carrie Nation on August 20, 1904.
Site 6 – 6 Main Avenue
The home of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Thomson. Mr. Thomson was the head usher of the Great Auditorium. On August 9 1941 the Thomson's gave a reception for Marion Anderson at their home before her Auditorium concert.
Site 7 – A Work in Progress
The site of the Main Avenue summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Preston, in-laws of Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston Widow of President Cleveland.
Site 8 – 19 Main Avenue Hotel
In 1881 this was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. James A. Garfield. It is noted that Mrs. Garfield participated in the temperance meetings held that summer.
Site 9 – 14 Ocean Pathway
The summer home of Phoebe Palmer and her sister Sarah Langford. Phoebe and her husband Reverend Palmer were instrumental in starting the holiness movement and influencing the formation of the Salvation Army. After Phoebe's death Sarah married Reverend Palmer and continued leading the holiness meetings in Ocean Grove.
Site 10 – 17 Ocean Pathway
This is the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Aassociation president's house where a reception was held for David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower when they visited Ocean Grove to lecture.
Site 11 – Sunrise Pavilion
Many beach meetings were held in the Sunrise Pavilion overlooking the ocean. Two of the most notable women to participate were Amanda B. Smith and Frances E. C. Willard.
Site 12 – The North End Pavilion
The pavilion is the only remaining section of the North End Hotel complex. This was the site of several gatherings including the suffrage meeting of 1915 with speakers Mother Bloor, founder of the Communist Party and Mrs. Havermeyer, creator of the symbolic torch of liberty, which reached Ocean Grove on August 9, 1915; and New Jersey state Federation of Women's Clubs meeting in 1916.
Site 13 – Founders Park
This park is the site of the first religious service, a prayer meeting lead by Mrs. Joseph H. Thornley, at her tent on July 31, 1869.
Site 14 – A Work in Progress
Summer home of Annie T. Whittenmyer the first present of the national WCTU. She wrote the Women's Crusade while living in her Ocean Grove summer home wher4e Frances E. C. Willard was a guest.
Site 15 – A Work in Progress
The summer home of Mrs. Jesse R. Grant, President Grant's mother and her daughter.
Site 16 – 104 Mt. Tabor Way
This was the home of Sarah J. C. Downs President of the New Jersey WCTU. The site is also on the New Jersey Women's Heritage Trail.
Site 17 – 124-126 Mount Tabor Way
This was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wagner and the business Mrs. Wagner's Home Made Pies. The baking was done in the raised basement outfitted with commercial ovens. The operation eventually moved to Brooklyn, NY and finally closed on July 11, 1969. Mrs. Wagner Pies were so famous that a reference is made to them in the Simon and Garfunkel song America.
The Historical Society of Ocean Grove is funded, in part, by the New Jersey Historical Commission.