The waters off of New Jersey can be treacherous for shipping traffic and many ships have come to grief against the Jersey rocks. In the 19th and early 20th-century, the Life Saving Service (the forerunner of the Coast Guard) set up stations all along the coast, manned by mariners who would watch the ocean horizon for signs of ships in distress. At the first sign of trouble, the Life Savers, often equipped only with small surfboats, ropes, grappling hooks, and life preservers, would launch out to sea in hopes of rescuing passengers, crew, and the ships themselves. (Visit the LifeSaving Living History site for the fascinating history of the service)
Now, Life Saving station #5 in Long Branch, New Jersey, is in peril. Not surprisingly, it’s not the rocks and ocean currents that threaten it, but rather a tidal wave of development that has all but swallowed the beachfronts of Monmouth County. A developer is looking to build 21 luxury condos on the land where the station now stands. After several years of protests from local preservation organizations, it seems likely that the development will get the green light. The developer is now offering one of the buildings for one dollar to any purchaser willing to relocate the structure.
The complex consists of three buildings, built between 1878 and 1903. The Coast Guard decommissioned the station in 1928 and for many years, the buildings belonged to the Takanassee Beach Club. The building being offered was originally built in 1897 as a Shingle-style residence for the LifeSavers, but has most recently been in use as a 3-family house. It’s described as a “Port Huron” type building, 2 1/2 stories with a brick foundation, 3450 square feet, and in fair condition. If you can move it, it’s yours for $1.
The building is depicted in the postcard at the right (probably from the 1900s or 1910s). This postcard is one from Eddie Thomas’s fantastic collection of historic postcards, photographs, and aerial views of the beach resort town of Long Branch, New Jersey. His site is well worth checking out (you’ll find several views of the Life Saving station at the top of the “West End” page)
If you’re interested in moving this rare survivor of New Jersey’s maritime history, contact the attorney handling the property- Lawrence F. Jacobs, Esq., of Wilentz, Goldman & Sitzer at (732) 636-8000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And, if you’d like to see a nearby Lifesaving station that has been preserved and opened as a museum, check out the Monmouth Beach Cultural Center.