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Home | About Us | Branches | Beachwood Branch | Community Profile
Beachwood Community Profile beachwood branch

History  

Beachwood began in 1914 as a purposely-created summer resort on the Toms River. In a project backed by the New York Tribune, 1,763 acres of Berkeley Township were sectioned on a “grid pattern” into lots of 20’ x 100’, and sold for $19.60 each to those who also bought a six-month subscription to the newspaper. Most of the early houses were summer cottages, owned by doctors, writers, teachers, theatrical people and police officers from both the Philadelphia and New York City areas. In 1916, the Pennsylvania Railroad joined the Jersey Central Line in making Beachwood a regular stop. The town became an official Borough in 1917. Churches and schools were established for year-round residents, but recreation and camping remained top priorities. In 1924, the first library was established, and the Polyhue Yacht Club, for many years a focal point in the borough, was built.

During the Great Depression, growth slowed and use of the community as a summer resort declined. In the latter half of the 1930s, with the slow but steady build-up of the local military installations in Ocean County, Beachwood began to see an increase in the year-round population. Throughout this time, the borough remained a close-knit community. The large number of community activities, fund-raisers, and summer entertainment contributed to the “family” atmosphere. Borough residents reached out to help one another in good times and bad, and in 1942, they entered wholeheartedly into the war efforts.

During the 1940s, many clubs and churches were active in the community. Among them were the Women’s Civic Club, the Beachwood Rifle and Pistol Club, scout troops, the Polyhue Yacht Club, the Beachwood Players (a drama group), the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce, St. Paul Lutheran Church, and the Beachwood Athletic Club. By then the police force, fire department, and first aid squad were well established. There was a dance hall for young adults, and residents enjoyed weekly square dances at the old Borough Hall (near the intersection of Beachwood and Atlantic City Boulevards). Most of the businesses were small and often family-owned. Borough law prohibited garages, diners, cabins, and motor courts, and service stations could only be located on Atlantic City Boulevard (Rte. 166).

Around 1946, major changes began taking place in Beachwood. The two railroads serving the community discontinued their runs. The opening of the Garden State Parkway, which by-passed downtown Toms River, cut some of the route 166 traffic by the library, but funneled other potential library users down Route 9, the Parkway access road which runs near the other side of the library. The expansion of Toms River Chemical Company (later bought and known as Ciba Geigy) also helped to increase the year-round population.

By the early 1950s and the mid-1960s, Beachwood had changed from being  a summer resort for the urban affluent to a year-round home for middle class workers. The 1960 census recorded 2,765 permanent residents, and the population continued to grow through the 1960’s and 70’s.

The early 1980s brought change once again. With the major downsizing of Toms River Chemical Company, which employed some 400 Beachwood residents, and the skyrocketing cost of real estate, Beachwood underwent a population shift.  Locally employed blue-collar workers began to be replaced by blue- and white-collar workers who commuted to the urban centers north and west of Beachwood. The 1990 census revealed a population increase to 9,324 and that of 2000 showed 10,375.

Today Beachwood attracts many young families, especially commuters to jobs further north of Ocean County.  Only 2.8 square miles in size, Beachwood is a densely populated community, with 3,700 persons per square mile and 3,623 housing units. It is nearing its maximum growth potential with few available lots left for building.

A strong sense of community pride has carried over from the past; houses are generally well maintained and attractively landscaped. Most streets are tree-lined. Newly built houses remain in character with older homes, retaining an attractive diversity of style.

In 1995 the original 1924 municipal building on Rte 166, housing the Borough Hall and fire department, was replaced by a new facility on Pinewald Road. It was named the William T. Hornidge Municipal Complex in honor of this mayor’s twenty years of service to the community.

Topography

The land in Beachwood is very flat and the soil is sandy. Two main roads, Routes 166 (Atlantic City Blvd.) and 9, funnel heavy traffic through the northeast end of the borough. A new bridge over the Toms River will impact on future traffic passing through Beachwood.

Routes 9 and 166 divide the older neighborhood north and east of these roads from the newer one to the west. Most new construction is in the western area, although new families have also bought and updated homes in the older section.

Commerce

          The main commercial “strip” in Beachwood covers about a 20- block stretch of Route 9/166 (Atlantic City Boulevard), at the northeast end of the borough. Most of the businesses are small family-owned retail stores and services. The library is on Beachwood Blvd., half a block west of Atlantic City Boulevard. The Post Office is two blocks west of the library on Locker Street, just before Route 9.

Beachwood Nursery School and the Candle Factory (http://www.candlefactoryproducts.com/) are on the western side of the Borough. Residents also use grocery stores, the Ocean County Mall and the other stores in Toms River and nearby area.

Other businesses in Beachwood, among 267 cited in Reference USA, an online business database, include small manufacturing companies, a commercial caterer, a CPA firm, a landscaping company, and an underground utility trenching corporation. The largest employer is the Borough of Beachwood. Most of the population is employed outside the area.

Transportation 

Route 9 (the Parkway access road) and Route 166 are the main arteries, carrying traffic north/south through the northeast end of the borough. These roads merge just before they exit into Berkeley Township. Pinewald Road runs along the western perimeter. All other streets in Beachwood cross on a grid pattern, and most connect with one of these arteries.

There are two bus routes through Beachwood. NJ Transit Route #559 runs from Lakewood through Toms River and Beachwood to points south, terminating in Atlantic City. It follows Route 9/166, stopping in Beachwood at the merger of Routes 9 and 166 (a few blocks down Atlantic City Boulevard from the library). About 22 daily trips run each way; passengers can connect in Toms River for other destinations. Ocean County Transportation bus Route #7, operates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, covering some of the residential streets of the borough. It connects the towns of Bayville, Ocean Gate, Pine Beach, Beachwood, and South Toms River. This bus passes the Beachwood Branch Library, and stops about a block away. Taxi service is also available in the borough. Seniors and physically challenged residents may book transportation for medical appointments and occasional shopping through O.C.H.E.T.S. (Ocean County Handicapped and Elderly Transportation Service).

Community Organizations

           Clubs and organizations in Beachwood include the Democratic Club of Beachwood, the Republican Club of Beachwood, the Young Republicans of Beachwood, the Beachwood Chapter of AARP, the Beachwood Men’s Seniors Club, and the Women’s Senior Auxiliary Club. Both Beachwood and Pine Beach Elementary Schools have parent teacher organizations.  Service organizations include Beachwood Volunteer Fire Co. #1, Beachwood First Aid Squad, Beachwood Fireman’s Relief Association, the Beachwood/Berkeley Rotary, and the Friends of the Beachwood Library.  Three churches, St Paul Lutheran Church, Community Bible Fellowship, and Community Christian Church serve the community’s spiritual needs.  Beachwood residents also participate in other special interest organizations in Ocean County.

Young people, ages 8 to18, belong to local scout troops and the Beachwood/Pine Beach Little League. The Recreation Department sponsors the Beachwood Dazzlers, NJ Devils Street Hockey, and a children’s summer camp program. The Beachwood Yacht Club, formerly the Polyhue Yacht Club, sponsors a children’s sailing camp and participates in area regattas.

Recreation and Entertainment

         Beachwood’s community center, at 147 Compass Avenue along the Toms River, can be rented from the Borough by individuals and groups and is regularly used for scout meetings, senior and political club meetings, practice sessions of the Emerald Society Pipers and the Beachwood Dazzlers, and for library programs requiring more space than the current building affords. A boardwalk extends southeast along the river from the Community Center to the beach. Borough-owned boat slips and a launch ramp provide limited boating access to the river.  There are some benches for those who choose to sit and enjoy the view of the river and the opposite shoreline.

Beachwood residents and guests may swim in the Toms River at a small beach with picnic tables and a pavilion. Above the beach is a gazebo, often the site for wedding photos. Mayo Park, across the street from the gazebo, is the largest of Beachwood’s three parks. It has a baseball field, basketball and tennis courts, picnic areas, barbeque pits, bocce ball courts, playground equipment, and a large kitchen. Groups and individuals can rent the park for private or public functions.

A smaller park at the corner of Birch and Surf has a Little League ball field and a playground.  “Kiddie Park”; at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Birch Street has playground equipment for children 12 and under. There is a soccer field at the southwest tip of Beachwood on Hickory Street.  A bike path stretches from Beachwood Elementary School along Berkeley Avenue to the soccer field. There are no skating rinks, movie theaters, or other commercial recreational facilities in the borough. Ocean County has plans to develop land on the western edge of Beachwood as Jake’s Branch County Park. It will feature hiking trails, small game courts, and fishing facilities.

The Beachwood Recreation Department hosts an annual Easter Egg Hunt, the Memorial Day picnic, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas House Decorating Contest. Their staff run a six-week summer day camp for children, aged 5/6 to 12 featuring crafts and outdoor activities. The Department also sponsors the NJ Devils Street Hockey for children ages 6-16 and the Beachwood Dazzlers. This latter program provides instruction in baton and flag twirling; members participate in area parades and competitions.

The Borough sponsors an annual fireworks display over the Toms River with festivities along the beach area and a Harvest Halloween Bonfire. Special anniversaries in the town’s history are commemorated.

Started by the Women’s Club in 1923 and incorporated in a building provided by Nathan Pulsifer in 1944, the Beachwood Library became a branch of the Ocean County Library system in 1973.  It is a popular local source for books, nonprint materials, circulating magazines, and computer Internet access. The branch offers regular sessions of pre-school story time, programs for older age groups, and the Ocean County Library’s summer reading program. The Friends of the Beachwood Library sponsor and support library activities.

Schools

Beachwood Elementary School, run by the Toms River Regional School District, serves children in grades K to 6. Children on the eastern side of Rte. 166 attend Pine Beach Elementary, also part of the Toms River system. Children in grades 7-8 currently attend Toms River Intermediate School West, although a new intermediate school for local children will be soon built on Pinewald Road in Beachwood; grades 9 to12 attend Toms River High School South.

The three schools may be found on the Internet at www.tomsriver.k12nj.us/elem/Beachwood/index.html; www.tomsriver.k12nj.us/elem/pinebeach/index.html; and
www.tomsriver.k12nj.us/high/hssouth/index

History & Folklore

The library was founded in the summer of 1923 by the Women's Club of Beachwood. At that time the Beachwood Borough was a seasonal small town and most of the club members returned in the fall to their city homes.

During the winter months they collected books for the library at the shore. At the spring opening several thousand books were on the shelves. The members of the club took turns running the library which was then housed in the Beachwood Chapel.

When the women's club was disbanded five years later, the Beachwood Library moved to the Interdonominational Church in the borough.

The Beachwood Library became incorporated in 1944 and was first known as the Pulsifer Memorial Library. The building and land were donated by Mr. Nathan Trowbridge Pulsifer in memory of his wife Mrs. Almira Pulsifer.

In February 1973, the library joined the Ocean County Library system as the Beachwood station. A three way contract was signed by the Borough of Beachwood, which owns the building, the Pulsifer Memorial Library Board of Trustees, who became the Friends of the Beachwood Library, and the Ocean County Library.

Mrs. Ethel Gaunt became the station librarian and the Borough of Beachwood renovated the interior, The Library was called Beachwood Station until 1979 when the name was changed to the Beachwood Branch of the Ocean County Library.

Contributed by Emily Holman, 
Beachwood's Branch Manager

 
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