Beachwood History for Elementary Students

The following was created for local elementary school students interested in the town’s history and/or needing a subject for a class report.

Over 100 years ago, in 1913, a man named Bertram C. Mayo traveled all the way to California to meet an old classmate of his, Addison D. Nickerson, who was vacationing with his family in a small bungalow in Los Angeles.

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Both men had been born and grew up in Massachusetts, and both went to school together, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known as MIT.

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Bertram – who liked to be called B.C. for short – asked Addison – he preferred A.D. – if he would like to work with him on a special project for a newspaper in New York City called the New York Tribune.

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The idea, B.C. told A.D., was to sell subscriptions to the newspaper with a special gift, or promotion, attached – that subscribers could also buy cheap lots of land in a small area of the New Jersey shore, on the Toms River, that would be called Beachwood and could be reached from New York City by the Central Railroad of New Jersey (or more slowly by auto via Atlantic City Boulevard). This way, they could take their families to vacation each summer in small bungalow homes they could build there, and enjoy the beach and the river and the sun and the shade away from the hustle and bustle of the city, just as B.C. had enjoyed as a child growing up in Massachusetts.

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A.D. thought it over and told B.C. that it sounded like a great idea, and so the two men headed east to work on the special project, with A.D. first buying the land that would become Beachwood while B.C. went to work in New York City to get newspaper readers interested in the special project.

Shortly after, in November 1914, B.C. made a big two-page announcement in the New York Tribune that invited all New Yorkers to buy subscriptions and land in this fantastic new resort town called Beachwood, so named because the woods went all the way down to the beach on the Toms River.

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At almost that same time, A.D. was busy designing and naming all the streets in the new town, which was a part of Berkeley Township. In coming up with the names of the streets, he gave all the ones near the river nautical terms, such as Compass, Forepeak, Capstan, Starboard, and Larboard, while the streets farther away from the river were named for flowers and trees, such as Oak, Maple, Birch and Pine.

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Special buildings were also built by A.D.’s work crews for the New Yorkers who would buy land with their newspaper subscription and vacation at the shore, including a railroad depot, a riverfront clubhouse for dances and gatherings, a lodge for guests that surrounded a patio and fountain, a dining hall for special dinners, a small yacht club right on the beach to start the New Yorkers with sailing on the river, bath houses for changing into swim suits plus many little paths and benches and hammocks between them all.

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Through that winter, residents in nearby Pine Beach, watching their new neighbor take shape, mentioned in the local newspaper that they could even hear A.D.’s crews blasting tree stumps from the ground where sandy roads were being cut through the pine forest.

By May 1915 the town was ready for its grand opening and on Decoration Day, what we now call Memorial Day, a big three-day weekend event was held with B.C. and A.D. and all the others who worked on the brand new Beachwood resort.

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Hundreds and hundreds of people from New York were met and welcomed to see where their homes could be built and all the special buildings and attractions, like the beach, they could enjoy.

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Over the next few years, many new homes in the design of bungalows were built along the river side of town and near the rail lines.

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B.C. moved on to work another town project while A.D. decided to stay and build many of these homes and live here with his family, constructing a beautiful home of their own right across from the entrance to Beachwood Beach, still standing today.

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Beachwood also declared itself a town of its own and broke away from Berkeley Township in 1917, becoming an independent borough.

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In the decades that followed, many families, from the earliest New York City pioneers to those who arrive today from all over, lived, worked and played in Beachwood, enjoying boating, fishing, swimming, sports and many other activities. The railroads eventually went away and were replaced by many more people owning cars and using the Garden State Parkway, which in the early 1950s was built to go right through some of those streets that A.D. had laid out.

Today Beachwood is home to over 11,000 residents, but none of them could call this town home if it were not for B.C. Mayo, A.D. Nickerson and the New York Tribune newspaper.

Special thanks to contributors of Beachwood history over the years for many of the items you see above, including: the Nickerson family, Joan Disbrow-Morris, the Paro family, Ralph Sharpe, Carolyn Campbell, William Mill Butler, Ruth Perry and Geoff Brown.