Archelaus Pharo, Thomas Parry, Dr. Samuel Ashhurst and several other affluent investors formed the Tuckerton and Long Beach Building, Land and Improvement Association in 1873. Inspired by Thomas Bond and his Long Beach House in what in now Holgate, these gentlemen wished to establish an entire resort community. It would attract many wealthy Philadelphians and be more refined than Bond's establishment.
Pharo controlled the Tuckerton Railroad, which would bring visitors from Whitings, New Jersey, where there was a junction with the major railway lines from Philadelphia and New York. He is often considered Beach Haven's first resident, and his Victorian home is still owned by the family. He built a spur line down from Tuckerton to Edge Cove, where the steamer Barclay would convey guests to Bond's until the new hotel in Beach Haven was completed.
This method of transportation was also used to bring lumber and supplies to the building site of hotel. Mud Hen Creek ran from the bay to the center of the new community. Mr. Pharo constructed a narrow roadway along the creek to haul equipment and goods to the building site at Centre and Beach Avenues. Today, this road is called Dock Road, and it was the first throughfare in Beach Haven.
The new hotel would be named The Parry House after Charles Parry, one of the main investors and soon to be co-founder of the Baldwin Locomotive Works. The hotel opened in June of 1874.
Many summer homes were also built in the area. John A. Wilson was the principal architect, and his company built many of the Victorian homes still standing along Coral and Amber Streets.
The new resort was very popular and the Parry House was often filled to capacity. It's manager, Robert Engle, relized that another hotel would do as well if not better than Parry's, so he constructed The Engleside. It was completed by the start of the 1876 season. Located along today's Engleside Avenue between Beach and Atlantic, the Engleside was known for its elegance, large rooms and fine service.
The Parry House caught fire in August of 1881. Luckily, there were no casualties thanks to the alertness of a visiting Episcopal minister, James Lamb. The Parry's were so thankful that Mrs. Parry founded the first church on the island. It was called Holy Innocents Episcopal Church and was housed in the building that is now the Long Beach Island Museum
The Parry's and other investors of the Parry House did not want to lose valuable business during the next summer, so they started construction of a new hotel right away. The Hotel Baldwin was completed in 1883. The large L-shaped edifice sported red-shingled minarets with a Queen Anne style porch extending along the Atlantic Avenue and Pearl Street sides of the building. The Baldwin became know for dance parties and social gatherings that were looked down upon at the more restrained Engleside.
The railroad came to Beach Haven in 1886 and bolstered the growth of the hotel business. The Hotel Baldwin established the Beach Haven Railway, a small line designed to carry guests from the ferry dock and train station to the hotel in open-air cars.
Both the Engleside and the Hotel Baldwin had bathhouses close to the beach where guests could wash the sand away and change into more proper attire. In 1896, a boardwalk was constructed between the two bathhouses. It was widened and extended in 1898, and one could walk the boards from Sixth Street to Marine Street. Gas lamps were added in 1907. The boardwalk was replaced in 1917 by a wider, longer one extending from Seventh Street to Holyoke Avenue. Most of the walkway was destroyed in a 1944 storm, and the cost to build a new one was deemed too expensive.
In those early days, Beach Avenue was Beach Haven's main street. Many homes built along the road had storefronts along Beach Avenue, and if you search hard enough, you may still find one or two buildings with display windows facing the street.
However, after the causeway was constructed in 1914, the Manahawking and Long Beach Railroad became less popular and eventually ceased to exist. The widening of Bay Avenue and the construction of many new cottages lead to the decline of the great hotels. By the 1940's, the Engleside had closed and the Baldwin was in decline. The former would be torn down in 1943, while the latter burned down on the night of September 24, 1960.
Beach Haven still retains the privilege of being the most popular and well known resort town on the island. Many believe that the passing of the great hotels and loss of the boardwalk may be blessings in disguise. The area has the charm it always had, yet has not grown overly commercial. It is still a family oriented vacation spot with a beautiful beach and many entertaining distractions.