Subject: Jersey Coast Heritage Museum Completes Mission
This is a letter of profound gratitude to all the founding members and supporters of the Jersey Coast Heritage Museum at Sandlass House. We have put a passion for saving history and historical preservation into all our efforts to bring to life the magic and beauty of the Highland Beach history and the Jersey Shore’s past. This wonderful journey to explore this history has been a catalyst for sharing different aspects of the roles they have played in American and local history. The partnerships forged have created a venue to share our knowledge and interest with the general public. Our goal, to deliver impactful results, has been achieved through the current Twin Lights Museum Exhibit that showcases the once grand history of our Gateway to the Jersey Shore. Having achieved our goal of inclusion in this unique exhibit, we celebrate a place in this history as a marker for future interest in our heritage.
Our goals have been realized and taken as far as we can go in lieu of saving the last standing relic of the Highland Beach resort, the Sandlass House, presently located on the Sandy Hook Peninsula as part of the property owned by the National Park Service. Therefore, in keeping with our by-laws, we believe it is time to put JCHM into a hiatus and dissolve our 501c3 status. We wish to thank each one of you for the heartfelt interest shown over the last two years of our quest to mark this history as a vital legacy of our Jersey Shore history. The memories shared by so many of their days at this once grand resort, have touched our hearts. Even though we close this Jersey Coast Heritage Museum chapter, we will be supporting our cultural heritage whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.
Susan Sandlass Gardiner
Frank J. Smith
November 1, 2018
The Story of Highland Beach and
William Sandlass Finds a Home
An exhibit recently opened at the Twin Lights Museum in Highlands, New Jersey, that is new in many ways. Within an exhibit space that was completely renovated in 2016, curator Joanne Sutton and board member Mark Stewart, with a little help from new board member Jeff Tyler of JCHM, have created a handsome, modern look that has something for everyone. Its four galleries now share a broader story of the New Jersey Shore, as witnessed from this site - the highest land mass on the eastern seaboard, that happens to overlook New York harbor and Sandy Hook!!
The ribbon cutting on April 25th, coincided with the first reading of the Pledge of Allegiance, which occurred at the Twin Lights of Navesink in 1893. There have been so many firsts here… the first lighthouse to use a Fresnel lens, Marconi’s first wireless transmission, and Highland Beach, the first and only excursion resort on the New Jersey Shore to offer both ocean and river bathing.
“Working on this exhibit over the past year has been a fantastic experience", said Mr. Tyler. "I am most excited about the opportunity to expand our understanding of Highland Beach and William Sandlass as we share it with a larger audience. It is not uncommon for a museum to obtain artifacts and knowledge as a result of a visitor connecting the history of something they have seen in the museum to an experience, artifact or image of their own. Highland Beach and William Sandlass are now the first things seen when entering one of the most visited historic sites in Monmouth County (The Twin Lights expects over 75,000 visitors this year), so we have just improved our chances significantly.”
Tyler continues, "Also featured prominently in our gallery is a new video short by JCHM’s own Chris Brenner called 'Now and Then', that uses views from the Twin Lights to present the seventy-plus year history of Highland Beach and Sandlass Baths."
The exhibit is expected to remain in place for at least two years, continually refreshing and expanding upon the themes presented in the four galleries - Local History, Maritime, Technology, Lighthouse. “We are about to add another artifact in our gallery”, said Tyler, “and I expect that the look and content will be continually changing and evolving.”
The JCHM board is planning an event at the Twin Lights Museum for later in the year, to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment. In the meantime, we encourage you to come see for yourself. While there, don’t forget to climb the north tower where you will get a birds-eye-view of our beloved Sandlass House!!
EXHIBIT AT TWIN LIGHTS MUSEUM
HIGHLAND BEACH (Local History) – GALLERY I
Gallery 2 - Maritime
Gallery 3 - Technology
Gallery 4 - Lighthouse
OUT ON THE HOOK
At the turn of the 20th century, the United States was flexing its economic and cultural muscle as a new world power. The country’s ambition and optimism was embodied by its middle class, which had more leisure time and discretionary income than any group in human history. The transformative impact of this exploding demographic was recognized by operators of day-trip amusement parks and resorts.
One of the first places to cater to the diversion-seeking masses was the Highland Beach Excursion Resort, operated by William Sandlass and his family. At its peak, more than 15,000 visitors a day used it as an escape from city life. The resort, which was reachable by train and steamboat, offered a family-friendly “middle ground” between the chaos of Coney Island and opulence of Atlantic City. At Highland Beach, with its swimming, boating, switch-back roller coaster and carousel, there seemed to be no limit to the sun and fun.
At the tip of Sandy Hook, however, was a reminder that the world was also getting smaller. Fort Hancock boasted the nation’s most sophisticated harbor defenses, and later served as a proving ground for some of the world’s most powerful weapons of war.
-- Mark Stewart, Twin Lights Historical Society
YOU can save a historic piece of the by-gone era of the Jersey Shore!!!
Preserve a cultural resource so that this history can remain in the memory of future generations and build community identity.
See History Come Alive!