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History in OCNJ is about to come to life once again

History in OCNJ is about to come to life once again

The Historical Museum and Life Saving Station are set to reopen soon with new exhibits

Do you miss seeing the Moorlyn Theater marquee? 

Many can still picture when the three-fold marquee was on the Boardwalk above the ticket window. 

Maybe you remember the Strand marquee, with the narrow ticket window placed diagonally to the Boardwalk, with room to walk around the window. 

Well, you’ll get to see them both soon, along with the Village Theater and the Showboat/Surf Theater in the Ocean City Historical Museum’s new exhibit. They hope to reopen at the end of October for the first time since COVID-19 hit. 

“You’ll walk through a faux doorway that looks like the one at the Village Theater,” said John Loeper, president of the Board of Trustees at the Historical Museum, and chairman of the board at US Life Saving Station 30. 

Each theater had its own unique qualities, like the Village. 

“Village had the kitschy, dancing, Village name (on the sign). As you walked into the Village, there was a little village there. We recreated it in the back. We have a lot of posters and tickets.”

The Strand Theater had a unique curtain.

“We’ve recreated the curtain that was King Neptune,” said John.

The Surf Theater, originally called the Showboat, had a smokestack that will be recreated. The Surf Theater still stands today… only you know it as the Surf Mall

The Historical Museum has undergone many changes since they closed in March.

“We’ve done a total revamp of the interior. We created new displays and refreshed others. We’ll have photographs available to the public. In a way, we’ll raise funds by selling copies of the pictures, but we have a whole ton of photos. They’ll all be on a thumb drive or pen drive. In the past, those photos were kind of cloistered. We’re the protectors; we actually preserve Ocean City’s history. We’re not keeping them for ourselves, they should be public information,” said John. 

There will also be a new exhibit on the Kelly family. 

“The Kelly family was so predominant with the things they’ve done in Ocean City. We decided to add the exhibit so that people can understand who the Kellys were. John B. Kelly, Sr., funded the lifeguards through the Great Depression,” John said. 

It was time for a museum revamp. 

“Nothing major has happened to the museum in over 20 years. By doing this, it’ll be new and fresh,” said John. 

The Life Saving Station is looking to possibly open weekends in October. Currently, they’ve been offering private tours.

“We’ve done it all summer,” said John. 

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Usually, the Life Saving Station is a stop on the Lighthouse Challenge that takes places throughout the state every October. This year, it’s still up in the air.

“We don’t want to be a super spreader site. We’re trying to think about the logistics of that,” John said.  

The Life Saving Station has been busy over the pandemic. They’ve acquired a new boat. 

“It will occasionally get used. It’s a 1955 surf boat that was built in North Jersey. It’s wood and in beautiful condition. There’s older lifeguards that race between themselves that might get to use it. It would be a shame just to leave it in a building. When we first got word of it, we saw older photographs. We got up there and they opened the garage door and it was beautiful. It was immaculate,” said John. “We were really happy to get it once we saw it. We were beaming on the way back.” 

They might take it to a few events hosted by a wooden boat society. 

“It’s a nice asset to the Life Saving station. Small rescue, simple boat like that,” John said. 

During the pandemic, they’ve also been working to finish the second floor of the station. 

“That was the living quarters and keeper’s room. We’ve already started to collect some artifacts. We don’t have nearly what they need. We’re working on it and we’re always looking for donations,” John said.  

To donate or to find out more about the US Life Saving Station living history museum, click here.

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