Lakewood, NJ – A Resort Town Booms Again
Lakewood, NJ – A Resort Town Booms Again
“Lakewood Kosher Rentals”
Relax where the Astors, Guggenheims, and Rockefellers vacationed – now kosher!
By Shachne Arye Rowner
The first settlers came to this area when Freehold, Tennent, and Toms River were focal points in the American Revolution.
They found the Lakewood of today a dense forest, situated on off beaten Indian trails. Gradually clearing the land, these settlers built their homes and created hamlets, mostly named for their families or local events of note which had taken place there.
Historian Charles Mandell, Esq writes, “The first recorded history of present Lakewood began with the “Three Partners’ Mill,” an area running parallel with the present State Highway 88, in the area of the South branch of the Metedeconk River. In this area, three Skidmore brothers John, George and Henry, settled. They dammed the stream and built a sawmill; in fact, lumbering continued to be the main source of income for the settlers until it was discovered that the soil was rich in ironstone, a brown lumpy ore, hard and studded with gravel.”
In 1814, Jesse Richards, a blast-iron furnace operator moved here, and with a partner, William Irwin, organized a company to develop ironstone. They built a blast furnace, purchasing large tracts of land to obtain watersheds for their mill ponds, ore for their smelters, and timber for their fuel. Soon the settlements of “Three Partners’ Mill” became known as “Washington’s Furnace.”
Name Change from “Washington’s Furnace” to “Bergen Iron Works”
In 1832 the iron ore business began to fail and was purchased by Joseph W. Brick, who revived the blast-iron business and reorganized as the Bergen Iron Works. Within the next several years, the business grew rapidly and by 1884 the population of “Washington’s Furnace” had grown to 200, with nearly all of the inhabitants employed by Brick. The community changed the settlement’s name to “Bergen Iron Works”.
Housing consisted of rows of log huts extending along present-day Clifton Avenue from First to Main Streets and again between the two yet unnamed lakes.
The foundry itself was located south of Main Street, between Hurley and River Avenues, at the site of the present FirstEnergy Park. After Brick’s death, the settlement changed its name to “Bricksburg” in his honor. A close friend of the Brick family, Henry Alexander, named the two lakes the larger of them being named “Carasaljo” after Brick’s three daughters, Carolina, Sarah and Josephine, who were known to the town folk as Carrie, Sally and Jo and the small lake named “Manetta” for Brick’s wife, Margaret.
From its earliest beginnings, Bricksburg and its predecessors in name were a part of Monmouth County. In 1850, Ocean County was created and the then settlement of Bergen Iron Works became a village of the Township of Brick. In 1863, the New Jersey Southern Railroad was built and the rail facilities were constantly busy between Bricksburg, New York, and Philadelphia.
An Industrial Era’s End and a Town’s New Beginnings
By the mid-1860s, the discovery of large iron deposits in Pennsylvania spelled the end of the bog-iron industry in this area, and the Bricksburg Land and Improvement Company was formed to restructure and somehow revive the dying area. The land was placed on the market, advertised in five and ten-acre tracts in various New York City newspapers.
In the late 1860s, several prominent bankers came to Bricksburg to invest in the real estate They acquired all of the stock of the Bricksburg Land and Improvement Company.
A Resort Town is Born – Hotels and Mansions Sprout for the Rich and Famous
In 1865, an opulent hotel was erected by the Brick family on Main Street, an architectural wonder named the Bricksburg House, more familiar to many as Laurel House, it’s later and more commonly known by name. Hotel guests included such prominent families as the Vanderbilts, Goulds, Rockefellers, Astors, Tilfords, Rhinelanders, Kipps, Arbuckles, and scores of other families of social prominence.
Because “Bricksburg” was no longer suited to the vision of a relaxing resort retreat, “Lakewood” was selected as the new moniker and on March 20, 1880, the name was officially recognized by the Post Office. The beautiful and scenic vacation town very quickly became known as the most popular resort area in the heart of the New Jersey pinelands.
Several magnificent hotels were constructed during the ensuing decades, among them the famous Laurel-in-the-Pines and the Lakewood Hotel, both of which opened their doors in 1891.
The Lakewood hotel was built by (Nathan Strauss of Macy’s fame,) and its structures covered 14 acres between Clifton and Lexington Avenues.
In addition to the great hotels, Lakewood saw the establishment of a large number of magnificent homes, including the John D. Rockefeller Estate, now Ocean County Park; and the Grover Cleveland Cottage, formerly located on Lexington Avenue, north of Carey Street. Socialites, such as the Packs, the DeForests, the Willocks, and the Lynches, settled here.
By 1891, the village of Lakewood was the largest in the Township of Brick leading the village itself as a Township on March 23, 1893. The building boom that followed the close of World War I increased the population of Lakewood to 8,000. Many hotels were built with the added tourist trade, the population during the winter months rose to 35,000.
Economic Decline and Metamorphosis to Poultry and Egg Farming Lands
Lakewood, by this turn of the century, was well established as a meeting place to the elite and a renowned winter health resort.
Many modes of transportation brought visitors from all parts of the country; among them the Jersey Central Railroad’s famous “Blue Comet”, the Public Service, Greyhound, and Capitol Bus Lines. A private bus line operated by Pillion and Shibla also made several daily runs between Lakewood and Asbury Park.
Subsequently, during the 1920s the original four hundred began to leave Lakewood, and with their exodus, the complexion of the town changed.
With the encroachment of surrounding farmlands, the poultry and egg business quickly took over, fast becoming one of Lakewood’s biggest industries – a far cry from the pine-scented resort town the founders envisioned.
Many immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe settled in the Township and, at one time, there were approximately 60 poultry farms in Lakewood. Economics slumped, and any remaining wealthy residents fled to more pleasing resorts.
BMG and the Resurgence of a Prosperous Yeshiva Boomtown
In 1943, Rabbi Aaron Kotler, Dean of Beth Medrash Govoha, a School founded in Eastern Europe (Belorussia) in 1898 for the study of the Torah and Talmud, purchased a building in Lakewood and reopened his Yeshiva with 13 students, bringing a new era of growth and economic prosperity to the area.
Today the Yeshiva is commonly known as BMG or Lakewood Yeshiva. As of 2020, the yeshiva has 6,500 married and undergraduate students, making it the largest yeshiva in the United States and one of the largest yeshivas in the world.
In the ensuing decades, estates and mansions were converted into hotels and apartment houses, and by the mid-1960s, Lakewood saw the end of most of its largest hotels, and by 1967 the Lakewood Hotel, Grossman Hotel, and Laurel-in-the-Pines Hotel were no longer in existence.
In the past 25 years, the creation of large industrial park facilities serving over 350 local, national and international companies brought approximately 15,000 jobs for Lakewood and the surrounding area.
Sensing the energy, vitality, and spirit of the Lakewood community, as well as affordable housing options, parks, and location centered around the ever-growing Yeshiva, the town has seen its population grow from approximately 20,000 in 1960 to over 100,000!
The Rebirth of a Vacation Destination, Now for Kosher Consumers
Lakewood of today encompasses multiple areas, developments, and individual communities, all of which feature amenities our ancestors only dreamed about! Kosher groceries, boutique restaurants, tailored shopping, shuls, schools and eruvin abound, with options limited only by your time and budget.
The great demand for kosher vacation rental homes and villas in Lakewood was brought to the attention of Shaya and Shifra Weinberger of Florida Kosher Villas. With years of experience serving the frum clientele in South Florida as the number one vacation destination, they banked on their professionalism and know-how, forming an elite new team to manage their new Lakewood kosher vacation rental company: Lakewood Hosts.
With tens of beautiful suites, apartments, mansions, and other kosher vacation properties in and around the regional Lakewood, NJ area, customers now rave about the attention to details and bespoke luxury accommodations tailored specifically for the religious traveler’s needs. Growth has been exponential and new kosher vacation rentals are frequently added, as demand and new areas mature.
A vacation resort town of old is once again a vacation destination like no other place in North America.
See for yourself what the founders two centuries ago, as well as the rich and famous vacationers that followed, saw in this pine-scented paradise. But the log cabins are surely a thing of the past, and the current, contemporarily decorated vacation rental properties come standard with the top-notch service for which the luxury kosher vacation team at Lakewood Hosts has become world-renowned.
Find your Lakewood Hosts luxury kosher vacation rental today.