[This text is taken directly from Pauline S. Miller's book on Ocean County, Copyright 2000 by the Ocean County Cultural & Heritage Commission. Library of Congress Catalog Number: 99-70605, pg. 461-472]
The name "Point Pleasant" formerly referred to the neck of land that lay between the Manasquan River, and the Atlantic Ocean, which now comprises the boroughs of Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant, and Bay Head. Since 1920, thre have been two "Point" municipalities in Ocean County, each with its own identity and political structure. This more than five-square mile area of Brick Township was favored by geography and slow settlement. Large farms dominated both the oceanfront and the Mansquan River with small farms dotting the stretch in between.
Point Pleasant Beach
The initial move toward division began with John Arnold's development of his 103-acre farm, called "Arnold City." Here, he laid out an east/west road called "Arnold Avenue." In 1878, the more organized settlement, "Point Pleasant City," was constituted by the Point Pleasant Land Company and finalized when Sidney Forman's 250-acre farm, south of the Arnold tract, formed the nucleus of today's Point Pleasant Beach Borough. By 1886 other adjoining farms became incorporated into the borough.
Like other self-proclaimed "cities" on the Jersey Coast, Point Pleasant was designed by men from Trenton who had laid out the street grids, in 1881 in the Philadelphia Plans.
Point Pleasant Beach's easy access to both salt and fresh water naturally brought shipping and fishing industries to the community. The proximity of the Manasquan Inlet and Manasquan River's deep channel made access easy for offshore fishing fleets returning to unload all docks just inside the inlet.
On May 18, 1886 the area's populaton of 660 citizens incorporated as the Point Pleaasnt Beach Borough. Edward H. Murphy, president of the development company, became the first mayor at the borough's organizational meeting on June 3, 1886. Elected to the borough council were John Arnold, William Curtis, C.E. Cline, D. Coles, H.W. Headley, and J.J. Pearce. H.B. Knight was selected to represent the borough as a member of the board of Freeholders.
One of the borough's more successful enterprises was the establishment of the Point Pleasasnt Beach Boardwalk. Its origin can be traced back to about 1915. After Point Pleasant Beach went bankrupt, the borough sold the entire beachfront and boardwalk to private entrepreneurs who operated profitable businesses of bath houses and pavilions. The first pavilion on the boardwalk was Johnson's, followed by Risden's, then Jenkinson's around 1925, which hosted the big bands in the 1940s and 1950s. The town of Point Pleasant Bech takes pride in its boardwalk, a self-proclaimed family center, rather than a "honky-tonk" attraction.
The Point had many early churches. St. Mary's By-The-Sea Episcopal congregation initially held services in 1873 in private homes in the community until the church could erect a building. Capt. John Arnold gave the church a lot in 1879 on the northwest corner of his cemetery, Whitelawn at Rue and Trenton Avenues. The doors did not open until July 4, 1880.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church had its genesis in 1881. Father Peter Jackson of Lakehurst fell asleep on a train while out scouting for a place to locate a mission church. He woke up in Point Pleasant and being pleased with what he saw, decided to promote a new parish among the local few Catholics, which consisted of permanent residents and the nucleus of summer visitors. Part of the church provided the background for the movie Amityville Horror which filmed in this church in the early 1970s.
The Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church, located on Bay and Forman Avenues, was founded and organized in 1882 by Dr. Charles E. Knox, president of Bloomfied Theological Seminary. This church was built in early Gothic revival style and had neo-colonial details added in 1889, seven years later.
The beach was the site of the annual "Big Sea Day" at first a custom of the Lenni Lenape Indians, who used the Burlington Path (rt. 528) to reach the shore to gather shellfish and to bathe. Early settles revises the Native American tradition in the 1890s. In a holiday spirit, they arrived in horse drawn carriages with enough food for a day of fun, games and frolicking in the ocean. For more than a century this tradition has been carried on annually with similar festivals and activities.
The manasquan Inlet Coast Guard Station, built in 1939 within the loop of Inlet Drive, near the inlet and fishing docks, reinforces the importance of the Point Pleasant Canal and Manasquan Inlet as a major maritime landmark for sport and commerical fishing fleets in the ocean and back bays.
The Point Pleasant Canal
The Point Pleasant Canal, an extension of the Inland Waterway, connects the Manasquan River to the head of the Barnegat Bay. The canal took years of planning. Because residents had anticipated the increase in boat traffic, as well as the certain destruction of freshwayer fishing, there was substantial local opposition to the plan. The canal, in fact, did destroy the vegetation on which local fish - freshwater bass, bluegill perch and pike-fed. This affected the baymen and market fishermen who could no longer supply these freshwater products. Nonetheless, Gov. Woodrow Wilson signed the Newman Bill in 1911 which authorized the work to begin on the canal. By 1915 the intercoastal waterway canal had reached Bay Head. The Bay-Head Manasquan Extension was finally completed in 1924. In 1964 Sen. Clifford B. Case introduced a bill that officially changed the name of the extension to Point Pleasant Canal.
By 1950, when its population reached 2,900 citizens, Point Pleasant Beach was a comfortable homogeneous community of friends and neighbors.
Point Pleasant was informally known as West Point Pleasant after Point Pleasant Beach was incorporated. A spirited effort to name the area Point Pleasant Heights in 1911 was voted down in a referendum. The 3.70 square-mile area remained governed by the Township of Brick until it became incorporated on May 19, 1920 with 153 votes for incorporation, and 8 against. Although the census of 1930 counted 2,058 pepople living in the borough, apparently not many people voted in the election.
The organizational meeting of the newborough was held on June 29, 1920 at the six-room Ocean Road School. Melville B. Parker was elected mayor, and served from 1920-1928. J. Holmes Harvey had originally been selected mayor, however he resigned the honor due to illness. The first borough councilmen were Z.P. Johnson, Dewitt C.K. Ricketts, John McKelvey, Alfred Holman, George Brook and Charles Pearce. George Anderson became the first borough clerk, and Fred P. Cook was the tax collector for twenty-seven years until his death in 1947.
The property lines around farms became the eastern uneven and erractic bounary line of the new borough. This enabled farms to remain intact so that none were divided by boundary lines that caused them to lie partially in Point Pleasant Beach Borough and partly in Point Pleasant Borough. The southern and western boundary line followed the middle of the north branch of Bever Dam Creek to place in the former wooden Burnt Bridge on Highway 88. The center of that bridge, which crossed the Manasquan River west of the present bridge, was the point where four municipalities intersected - Point Pleasant an Brick, both in Ocean COunty on the south side of the river, and Wall and Brielle both in Monmouth County on the north side of the river.
John and Charles Maxson and William Curtis owned large farms along the Mansquan River. Smaller farms dotted the area. Israel Johnson who settled on hundreds of acres of farmland, cranberry bogs and timberland north of Beaver Dam Creek in 1823, was the progenitor of the Johnson Boat Builders in Bay Head.
John Lott Dorsett, waterman, livesaving station keeper, yacht designer, and builder, lived in an old farm house about 500 feet from Beaver Dam Creek. He docked his forty-give foot schooner, in a nearby cove. The Rosemand sailed on the bay for many years, with day fishing parties or privte cruisers on the bay.
Israel Johnson sold five acres of his land near the head of the bay to John Loveland in 1846. John's father, Charles Loveland, had also bought land at the head of the bay in 1837. This settlement later became known as Lovelandtown. William B Hill, who represented Brick Township on Ocean County's first board of Chosen Freeholders in 1850, also sold Charles Loveland a five-acre wooded lot near the Methodist Church on the road (rt. 88) from Point Pleasant to Burrsville in 1847. Bay Head was its eastern boundary. A small stream, called Herberts Creek that flowed into Barnegat Bay, was its western boundary until the creek was dredged as a section of the Point Pleasant Canal.
Lovelandtown never incorporated as a separate municipality. It lies in the Borough of Point Pleasant. It remains a tiny settlement of a few streets at the Head of theBay. The designated Lovelandtown Bridge, an extenstion of Bridge Avenue out of Bay Head, crosses over the Point Pleasant Canal.
John Morris bough 250 acres of land bordering the Manasquan River in 1750. However, it was probably his descendent Capt. Robert White Morris who built the house. A silk merchant and owner of several sailing vessles, it is believed that the captian occupied the home for several years before leaving it to his descendents who occupied the house for several generations.
The house faces Ocean Road (rt. 88), which for many years was called Captain's Row named for the other sea captains who also built houses along this road.
The Harvey Memorial Methodist Church at the corner of Arnold Avenue and Ocean Road, was built in 1872. This became the third Methodist church of the vicinity. Only an old cementery marks the site of the first church that was founded in 1828 and stood on the west side of the canal.
The Point Pleasant Hospital had its origins in rented rooms at 422 River Avenue (now Point Pleasant Beach). Dr. Frank Denniston began to administer medical care there in 1909, and in 1912 he hired a local boy, Arnold Lane, to assist in anesthetizing and assisting patients. As the practice grew, Dr. Denniston saw the need for a small, four-bed private hospital to accomodate patients who needed major surgery. By 1927, he had built a new larger, fifteen-bed private hospital. Within a few years, the hospital was incorporated as a not-for-profit facility. During the Great Depression, Dr. Denniston struggled to continue operations, which was probably a cause of a heart attack that forced the doctor to retire to Florida. Dr. Bruce Hendrickson, another surgeon, took over Denniston's practice. By 1937, the hospital had grown to fifty beds.
The Borough of Point Pleasant doubled its 1940 population by 1950 with the influx of North Jersey residents and returning G.I.s who wanted to relocate away from urban areas. About thirty small developments had been created by 1950. These developments increased the permanent resident population to 4,009.