self-guided - Historical Walking Tours

The Westray Tour
The Riverfront Tour
The Camp Meeting Tour - PDF file 23,423k

This is as far as I have gotten with the Walking Tours
More to come soon

How These Tours Came To Be

In March 1995, my Island Heights Girl Scout Troop 425 took on the task of working on a self-guided historical walking tour of Island Heights, as suggested by Ellie Rogaiski, the Borough Clerk. It didn’t seem like such a big task at the time, and as originally envisioned, it wouldn’t have been. After all, we had the 1981 New Jersey Historic Sites Inventory of Island Heights as a starting point, and we had access to earlier printed walking tours to refer to. A few meetings and we should be done (or so we all thought).

We narrowed down the more than 300 sites that were placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites to 84 which we felt really should be included. That was the part of the project the Girl Scouts worked on. Then we realized that visiting that many sites was far more than a one day project, so we ended up with three separate tours. Already the project was growing beyond the “simple” printed booklet we all thought we were doing. Then came the idea of adding architectural notes to the simple historical notes we had planned. The project grew again, and it was time for the Girl Scouts to move on to other things leaving me to finish the task.

Inspired by my large collection of lsland Heights postcards, my “thoughtful” husband told me that it would be “easy” to add in graphic images which would, we all agreed, make the finished product so much better. The project grew larger again. Then began the task of culling through all the old sources for information, calling up the owners and former owners of houses, sorting through all the photos, postcards, etc. available. Countless hours later, I have pretty much compiled the Riverfront Tour, the Camp Meeting Tour and the Westray Tour. I’m sure I’ve left out many facts that should be included and included a few “facts” that really aren’t. If you will let me know about these errors of omission and commission, I will try to correct them in later editions of this work. And, of course, old photos and stories of some of the houses are still needed.
        Sarah Punderson May 10, 1998

Island Heights History
Once a major waterway, the creek on the north side of Island Heights is what first made the island noteworthy to ships navigating into Toms River. In 1762 the Dillon family took ownership of the whole island, and the remains of their first house can be found within a much altered structure on the northeast section of the island. In later years it was divided into the Brinley, Hurry and Westray farms. In 1878, the Island Heights Association was formed by the Rev. Jacob Graw, 12 other ministers and 17 businessmen to purchase land from the Brinley farm to develop into one of the nine Methodist Camp Meeting communities in New Jersey. The Association quickly cleared a site at the peak of the 60 ft. bluff overlooking the Toms River and constructed cottages and a tabernacle so that thousands of people would converge on Island Heights late in the summer of 1878 for the first religious camp meetings. In addition to promoting the religious aspects of this new community, the incorporators were quite keen on the real estate development potential for such a location. The land was carefully blocked into salable lots, and promotions were run in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Before long the community became known for its yachting activities and seashore pleasures, and many grand “cottages” were being built. However, because of its Methodist origins no liquor was (nor still is) allowed to be sold within the boundaries of the town. As the development succeeded, the Westray and Hurry farms were annexed to Island Heights, which eventually became a Borough in 1887. Because of the quality of the original architecture and the preservation of the remnants of that era, Island Heights is now on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites and the Victorian ambiance of a bygone time flavors our lives.

Architectural Notes
The popular architectural styles during the development of Island Heights between the 1880’s and the 1920’s were Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Gothic Revival, Carpenter Gothic, Stick, Shingle and Bungalow. Some of the houses were designed by architects and pure in design, however, for the most part, local carpenters would design and do the work, using materials locally available. They would come up with their own individual designs, hence the term “vernacular” to describe a style, and more often than not, several styles were combined in one structure. The Vernacular Queen Anne Style, which predominates, can be characterized by its extremely varied appearance. Irregular floor plans were used to avoid symmetry and flat surfaces were interrupted with gabled dormers, bays, towers, front or wrap-around porches and sometimes second story porches. Texture was added with various shaped shingles usually combined with clapboard. The houses were decorated with gable ornamentation, spindled railings, decorative porch or roof brackets and a variety of devices. The steeply pitched roof often with a large front gable, gave the houses an overall vertical appearance. Throughout the tours, elements of all of the styles will be indicated, but the Vernacular Queen Anne Style can be assumed unless otherwise noted.

Naturally a Project of This Scope Required The
Assistance of Too Many People to Thank By Name But
a Few Deserve Special Thanks for Their Help:

Mary Kaye Millard for giving the Girl Scouts and the project a direction and her editing

James Punderson for scanning the photos, layout, typesetting and computer graphic work

Leigh Murphey for contributing the “ISLAND HEIGHTS HISTORY” and access to previous research

Donald Bottomley for his photograph collection

Island Heights Junior Girl Scout Troop 425
Lindy Capron, Dana Janquitto, Michelle King, Allie Lupico, Rachel Page, Sarah Jeanne Punderson, Hilary Scheer, Hillary Sheehan. Naura Sheehan, Amanda West and especially Annette Lupico my co-leader
They together were responsible for selecting the sites by sorting through photos and touring the town, for matching the various research materials, for making the display board and preparing the “What Do You Know Kids’ question inserts.

Reference Sources

1. McAlester, Virginia and Lee; A Field Guide to American Houses, published by Alfred A. Knopf New York, 1984
2. Campbell, Carolyn M. and Peryl King and Martha T. Smith; Chickaree In The Wall published by Ocean County Historical Society, 1987
3. Salter, Edwin; Salters History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, NJ published by Gardner & Son, Bayonne, NJ, 1890
4. The New Jersey Historic Sites Inventory. Island Heights Ocean County, 1981 sponsored by the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission
5. Island Heihts and Windsor Park 1888 booklet printed in 1888, reprinted by the Ocean County Historical Society
6. Pictorial Album of Island Heights. New Jersey compiled by Adolph Woolly and George Heffernon; published by the Ocean County Historical Society, 1971
7. Island Heights. An Architectural Introduction; a walking tour booklet published by the Island Heights Cultural and Heritage Association, 1981
8. Kralik, Marilyn; Island Heights Historic District Suggested Walking Tour, unpublished
9. Simpson, Miss Emma E.; Pioneers of Island Heights; unpublished
10. Island Heights Herald; Vol. IZ No. 42, May 29, 1895

Copyright © 1998, Sarah Punderson.
No portion of the Island Heights Walking Tours may be reproduced in whole or in part
without prior written permission of Sarah Punderson