The Essex and Sussex
                A Centennial Celebration

                                         The Essex and Sussex 

A Centennial Celebration


The Essex and Sussex Historical Timeline

1882               The block between Essex and Sussex Avenues on the east side of First Avenue is known as Hastings Square.  Ten free standing double cottages are built each with its own entrance and name.  One of the cottages is called the Essex and another is called the Sussex.

1/12/1891       Mrs. Susan Urie purchases Hastings Square for $80,000 from Mrs. Anna Baird. 

9/19/1900       A fire starts in the laundry room of one of the cottages, destroying the Essex Cottage,  Monmouth House, stores, and other cottages on First Avenue. 

3/14/1914      Mrs. Urie sells complex to the Hastings Square Hotel Company.  The Guy KIng & Co. then designs the landmark Colonial Revival Essex and Sussex Hotel with its colossal columns.  Two Hastings Square cottages, known as  Essex and Sussex, become part of the new hotel.  The owner is Frederick F. Stock Sr.

7/1/1914     The Essex and Sussex Hotel with a capacity for over 400 guests opens for business as a seasonal resort with elegant Edwardian furnishings.  It becomes a popular place for upper society from New York and Philadelphia who appreciate tradition, elegance, and gracious service.

7/6/1916          Jersey Shore is plagued by shark attacks during the summer of 1916.  An E&S bell boy captain, Charles Bruder,  is killed by a great white shark while swimming in friont of the Hotel.  This was shocking because at the time, experts did not believe sharks attacked people.  

1929           75-rooms are  added to the building which becomes  the north wing along Sussex Avenue. 

9/8/1934    The Morro Castle burns off the Coast of New Jersey.

1955          The Essex lounge opens offering dance and entertainment.  It becomes a popular night spot for local residents.  The Hotel flourishes as a summer residence of the socially and politically prominent, as well as hosting both private and public social events.    

7/5/1964    The Essex and Sussex Hotel celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a Grand Ball that included such invited luminaries as future President Richard Nixon, Governor Richard J. Hughes and Mrs. Charles S. Krom, widow of the man who managed the hotel for 34 seasons. During this time, generations of children attend dancing lessons every summer.

6/25/1976    Frederick L. Schock, third generation of the Schock  family to own the Essex and Sussex hotel, leases it to Charles and Terri Carroll owners of the nearby Warren Hotel.

1977          The Carrolls sell their interest in the Warren Hotel to a brother-in-law and buy the Essex and Sussex Hotel for $875,000 with the intention of owning and operating it.  Through the years, many local events such as St. Catharine-St. Margaret Parish's Candlelight Ball are held there.

1980          THe Essex and Sussex Hotel is used as a backdrop for the movie, "Ragtime", set in 1906, starring James Cagney.  225 area residents are used as extras in the film.  They were paid $3.10/hour.

1985          Andrew Befumo (E&S Development Co.) buys the Hotel for $4.5 million with plans to convert the 400 rooms into 206 luxury suites that would sell from $125,000 to $1 million.  

9/1985          Essex and Sussex Hotel closes for good at the end of the 1985 summer season.

11/12/1985   It's furnishings are sold to the public by Andrew and Louise Befumo.

11/29/1989   70 of the units are sold before the project goes into bankruptcy and is taken over by National Westminster Bank.  The Hotel is abandoned.           

8/27/1992    Joseph Barry (Applied Cos. of Hoboken) purchases the property for $3.5 million with planning to convert the building into 168 luxury senior-citizen apartments. 

9/19/1997    Spring Lake Borough Council approves an agreement to convert the Essex and Sussex Hotel into a luxury residence for senior citizens.

12/2/1998    Initially the Spring Lake Planning Board denies the construction permit but finally an agreement is reached.  Work commences on the project.

8/27/1999    Superior Court Judge Robert O'Hagen rules in favor of the Essex and Sussex senior residence project and the site plan is approved.  Applied Cos. of Hoboken resumes construction.

4/12/2001    The Spring Lake Town Council approves an agreement between the Borough of Spring Lake, its Planning Board, and Essex and Sussex Associated LP (the operating arm of Applied Cos.) with restrictions.  Applied Cos. markets the building as a rental residence for active adults.

2001          The existing  ballroom is reconfigured into a dining room

5/1/2002    The new Essex and Sussex facility greets its new residents; 31 units are leased. 

6/12/2002   A Grand Opening Celebration  includes a VIP Reception.

4/27/2003    The Spring Lake Town Council approves the agreement between the Borough and the Essex and Sussex, tramsitioning it from a rental property to a property with units for purchase or rental.  Existing residents are given the option to either purchase their unit or continue renting.

1/2004          The Essex and Sussex Condominium Association assumes ownership and control of complex.

7/10/2004    The Essex and Sussex celebrates its 90th Anniversary.  The theme is:  "A Sense of History, Culture, and Class."  Attendees wear attire with styles ranging from the 1930's to the present.

6/21/2011         The Essex and Sussex Condo Association negotiates a new agreement with the Spring Lake Town Council granting relief from certain regulations imposed in the 1997 Settlement Agreement and the subsequent 1998 Amendment.

2014          The Essex and Sussex will celebrate its Centennial (100th) Anniversary with a series of events culminating with The Essex and Sussex Centennial Gala on June 27, 2014.

Mapping out some more of The History of The Essex and Sussex.

Photos of the Essex and Sussex in disrepair probably around the year 2000.  The picture on the bottom shows the main entrance as it  used to be on The North Side.  Note the E&S sign above the door. Thanks to Tom Luciani, a resident at The Essex and Sussex,  for giving us these pictures.

The Rennovation Complete.  Photo from Tom Luciani.
. Thanks again to Tom Luciani for this great post card of The Essex and Sussex to add to our History Collection!
Ginny Shuttner, a resident of the Essex and Sussex shared a few pictures and a writing "Life on the American Plan" by Terri Carroll which we would like to share with all.

We thank Terri Carroll for taking the time to share some of her fascinating memories of the Essex and Sussex as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of this historic landmark.

                                                      "Life on the American Plan"
In 1976 we decided to take a risk and lease the Essex and Sussex Hotel.  After our first summer the business seemed promising so we negotiated the purchase of the hotel from Frederick L. Shock the following year.  I had no idea what wonderful people, both staff and guests, I would meet in the years to come.

This beautiful hotel had been built in 1914.  Spring Lake and its hotels attracted the wealthy from New York and Philadelphia for many generations.  The staff included a core of department heads that returned each year.  Many of them worked in the warmer climates during the winter months and then would head to Spring Lake for the summer season.  The rest of the staff was made up of college students.  They either lived nearby or came specifically to spend a summer at the beach and to work at one of the hotels.

The lifestyle of the guests could be compared to those on a cruise ship.  Many stayed for several weeks and some for the entire season.  Most chose to be on the "American Plan" which meant that they would take their breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the hotel.  The regulars would have their same table in the dining room and the cocktail lounge from year to year.  They would even make requests as to the decor in their bedrooms.

Many coordinated their stays with friends so that they would all be there at the same time.  Everyone enjoyed renewing their acquaintances and many had seen each other during the winter at some of the big hotels in Florida.  Each group would take their turn hosting cocktail parties in the lounge.  The men all dressed in colorful summer jackets and often their jackets would match the gown and jewels of their spouse.  It was a comfortable place for the unattached too.

After dinner there would be dancing in the cocktail lounge and bridge parties were sometimes held in the lobby.  Each evening the entertainment would be varied with music, bingo, lectures, and ethnic gala shows at the pool.  The staff would occasionally present a talent show which was enjoyed greatly by the guests.  They would be coached by a vivacious and talented local girl, Betsy Smith.  After breakfast everyone would disperse to the beach, pool, walk the boardwalk or take an easy walk into town to browse through the shops on Third Avenue.

Lunch was always served poolside.  All the food was prepared under the supervision of Executive Chef James Clarke from the Augusta National Golf Club.  Lunch was buffet style with special treats like fresh lobster served on the weekends.  Every Monday night there would be a complimentary cocktail party for all the guests.  It was a great opportunity for the new arrivals to be welcomed and for everyone to mingle.  There was an unwritten rule however that once cocktail hour was finished everyone proceeded to the dining room to their separate tables.

Ed Carmody

The role of Maitre d was a very difficult one and a very tiring one.  There were three meals a day to be covered as well as the possibility of several weddings on the weekends.  College students were employed as waiters, waitresses, busboys, and captains.  Ed had worked at all the big resort hotels.  He had developed a very efficient and logical system for training the young staff.  He would hold classes at the beginning of each season to teach his system.

He had devised another technique that he called "the wave".  This was used during the banquets and weddings when there was a set menu.  The wait staff would start at the top of the room and everyone would serve each table.  This way all the guests seated at the particular table received their meal at the same time.  The whole procedure would begin again for clearing, serving the next course and so on.

He was responsible for all the scheduling, hiring and organizing the seating arrangements for the guests.  The only downside about Ed was that he loved catching races at Monmouth Park.  Sometimes he would go missing in the afternoons!

One day Woody Allen arrived from New York and asked me if he could look around the hotel.  He was considering it as a location for his next film.  He was walking around the lobby measuring the space.  Ed walked over to me and said that I had to see this man in the lobby who looked exactly like Woody Allen.  I said that it was Woody Allen and Ed couldn't believe it.  In the end he selected the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium to serve as the exterior of the "Stardust Hotel" for his film "Stardust Memories."

Ed often complained about how hard hotel work was but then said that once he smells the aroma of the fresh coffee being brewed in the morning he would realize that hotel life was in his blood.

The Front Office

Lorraine Ryan was the head of the Reservations department. She had two or three girls to assist her in answering and confirming bookings. Tracy Cohen, Mary Judge, Claire Kennedy and Aedemar Purcell were some of her able assistants.  Lorraine would stop at the post office on her way to work to pick up the mail.  Then she would sort and open everything.  All letters were answered; many were just requests for information, rates, and availability.  There was a standard letter and brochure that was sent out for these.  Those requesting specific times and rooms were dealt with by looking at three large boards.

The boards were lined in a grid system with each room and each day of the season.  Blocking the confirmed room reservations was done with strips of different coloured tape.  The name of the guest would then be written on the tape.  Credit cards were only starting to come into use and there were no computers or internet bookings.

The bell Hops

These handsome young men were responsible for greeting the guests upon their arrival at the hotel.  They would unpack their car and deliver the luggage to their rooms.  They parked cars, delivered ice, cut extra keys, operated the elevator, organized bingo games and racing nights.  They set up meeting rooms for groups and the ballroom for lectures.  John Prendville, Kevin and Brendan Judge, Mitch Llewellyn, Tommy Wville, Clark Rienhard and Art Farren were a few of the many who worked in this department.

The Switchboard

Maureen Hennicke and Eileen McCabe were the ladies who organized the schedules and manned the phone lines.  We inherited the old switchboard and it had a high back panel which consisted of rows of jacks.  Each was designated for a bedroom or location in the hotel.  On the desk area in front of the operator were columns of keys, lamps, and cords.  The front key was the "talk" key and the rear key was used to  physically ring the extension.  When a call came in from outside the hotel, the operator would plug in and answer it then connect it to requested room.  Lamps would flash when the parties had finished.  Sometimes there would be so many cords in all the jacks that it looked like nothing more than a tangle of wires!  When the operator would disconnect a cord, a pulley weight behind the switchboard would pull the cord back into place.

Maddy Byron, Pell Wayne, Neil Dennehy

Maddy Byron worked on the front desk and I always thought that she was a double for Carol Burnett.  She loved to sing and dance.  When "Ragtime" was being filmed at the hotel she was thrilled to be offered the part of the front desk clerk!  She actually had an actor's equity card so was permitted to say a few lines.

Neil Dennehy worked several seasons as then night auditor.  Charges to the guest bills were made on an NCR accounting machine.  Each evening Neil would have to balance the books and cash out the machine for the next day.  He would also answer the phones and be on hand for whatever went on after midnight.  The hours were very unsociable and the only other person on duty during that shift was Ted Raatz, the night-watchman.

Pell Wayne was a lovely Southern lady who worked as a cashier.  She also followed the seasons and would head south to another hotel for the winter.  She was checking out a guest who was disputing his bar charges.  When she found the appropriate chit, the guest took out his wallet to pay and a moth fell out.  Both Pell and the guest had a good laugh about that as the guest said, "See I really am cheap!"

Ann and Bob Blair

Bob Blair was the beverage manager and his wife  Ann worked on the front desk.  They lived in Florida and came to Spring Lake every season to work at the Essex and Sussex.  During the course of a conversation that we had, I found out that Ann's family came from County Clare in Ireland.  At the close of the season we all decided to travel to Ireland together.

We went into Moran's of the Weir for dinner.  She began telling the waiter her story and that her family came from the vicinity.  He said just wait a minute and I will get my father.  Michael Moran came out and sat next to Ann and listened to her story.  He sat there quietly and then said that your father and my father were brothers.  He invited Ann and Bob to join his family for lunch the next day.  They visited the cemetery where she could see her Grandparent's graves. It was a very emotional time for them.

We all couldn't believe that it was just a stroke of luck that led us into that particular restaurant where she found her relatives.  We had selected Moran's because we had heard so much about their famous Clarenbridge Oysters.  Never did we think that Ann would discover her Irish family there.

Thursday Night Poolside Galas

Every Thursday we presented what we called an Ethnic Gala night on the poolside terrace.  We would have an orchestra for dancing and entertainment representing whatever the theme was.  I worked with a talent agent from New York to book good but affordable acts.  Henry and Stasia DeFriedberg always assisted me with the entertainment for Polish night.

They were very active in an organization called Polish Assistance.  They were familiar with many different Polish musicians and dancers.  Polish Assistance was founded in 1956 to provide financial aid to Polish immigrants, especially the elderly.  Every Year Stasia organized a dinner banquet to raise funds for this charity.

We often had the Polish American Folk Dance Society perform.  They were a group of beautiful young people and they would dance the polka, mazur, oberek and of course the Polonaise.  The real coup was when Stasia was able to engage Martta Eggert and her son Jan Kiepura to sing for us.  She was a most elegant and gifted singer and her son joined her in duets from the Merry Widow.

One year a singer who had been in the 2nd Polish Corps that took Monte Casino during the World War II battle performed "Czerwone Maki na Monte Cassino".  He was a very handsome man and became very enraptured with the hotel life and the attention that he was getting from many of the ladies.  He asked if he could sing every night for his room and board.  We allowed that for a few nights.  He stayed and stayed and finally had to be given a hint that he would have to begin to pay for his room and board!

 General Wladyslaw Anders' daughter also was a guest at the hotel and presented me with a signed copy of her father's book "An Army in Exile."  He was the commander of the 2nd Polish Corps in Italy from 1943-1946 and led the battle that captured Monte Cassino.

On every hour from the tower of St. Mary's basilica in Krakow, Poland a trumpet signal is played called the Hejnal.  The tune ends on a broken note.  This is because the famous 13th century trumpeter was shot in the throat by an arrow while trying to sound the alarm of an impending Mongol attack on the city.  The Essex and Sussex Hotel had a magnificent cupola on the roof that could be accessed through the attic.  Henry had the idea that he would tell his story during one of the Polish nights.  He would then say listen and a huge spotlight would light up the tower and shine on a trumpet player who would play the Hejnal.

One of the orchestra members was talked into doing this.  Henry taught him the tune.  On the night of his performance he insisted that a rope be tied around his waist before stepping out onto the platform under the cupola.  It all went off without a hitch and was a very dramatic act.

Irish nights were fun and very easy to book entertainment for as there was a plethora of Irish bands playing on the Jersey Shore.  On occasion double bookings happened and we would be left without entertainment for the gala Irish night.  The house orchestra would fill in and a quick call would be made to see if Father McGinley was available.  He was a Jesuit priest who would come to  St. Catharine's on weekends to help say the extra masses that were scheduled to accommodate all the summer visitors.  He was a magnificent tenor and had the persona to match his voice.  He always enthusiastically arrived and went through his repertoire of Irish songs.  I was talking with him once just before he was due to get up and sing.  I was so worried that it might rain.  He just looked at me and smiled and said, "Terri, it never rains on Camelot!"

Another Jesuit priest who would spend weekends helping out was Father Frank Hamill.  He would say Saturday evening Mass in the Ballroom of the Essex and Sussex but word got out that his mass was very short and soon many people were flocking to the mass to hear "Fast Frank".  One parishioner even named a racehorse after him.

There were many Irish college students working at the hotel.  One Sunday several of the girls returned from Mass at St. Catharine's and asked me why they sang "God Save the Queen" at the end of the Mass.  I was amazed and said that I am sure they didn't.  I then realized that the tune to "My Country Tis of Thee" was indeed the same as the English National anthem.  I saw Monsignor Grimes during the week and told him the girl's comments.  The next Sunday to my surprise I heard him tell the story during his sermon.  At the end of the Mass he asked the choir to sing "Danny Boy" for all the Irish students working at the Essex and Sussex.

Elie Aghnides

Many guests came for several weeks and then there were others who would come every weekend.  One of the most intriguing men that I ever met was Elie Aghnides.  He lived full time at the Pierre Hotel.  He never missed a weekend during the season except when he took his annual holiday to his native Greece.  I had many interesting conversations with him and tried to politely find out what he did for a living.  He always would be very secretive and just smile.  I received a telephone call from him one winter's night.  He said that I should watch the program 60 minutes on Sunday evening.  I asked him why and he just said that I would see.

The program was all about Elie!  I learned that he had a patented the original Spring-Flo aerator.  He explained on the program that he had been in spired while bathing on a beach in Greece.  He noticed that the ocean water was lighter in color on the top of the waves.  He correctly deduced that this was caused by air being forced into the water.  His design for faucet aerators forced air into the tap water and water flowing out became much softer.  He also invented the "Rhino" military vehicle for use as an army transportation vehicle or amphibious tank.  Elie was able to live in luxury from the profits of his spring-flo aerator patent.

Maria Von Trapp and others

I was constantly trying to think of interesting people or musicians to book during the summer season to entertain the guests.  My husband and I would take an annual trip to Florida to visit our staff and to engage them for the coming season.  We also liked to visit the other big hotels for ideas on management, decor, food and anything else that we thought would improve things at the Essex and Sussex.  During a stay at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach we became acquainted with the resident portrait artist, Dupree Fuller.  We invited him to come North during the summer and to set up his easel in the hotel lobby.  He always painted during the evening when guests would be on their way in and out of the dining rooms and lounges.  They really enjoyed seeing the progress that he was making on his portraits.

One year we took a skiing trip to Vermont and stayed at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.  We met Maria Von Trapp.  We had a nice conversation with her and she mentioned that she went on tour lecturing about her life with her fee going to a charity that she had started.  We asked her to come to give one of her talks at the Essex and Sussex.  We were thrilled when she accepted our invitation.  She delighted her audience with stories about her life, the Baron, the children, their escape from Austria and Julie Andrews.

Every other year the hotel was the venue for the Men's Fashion Association of America.  Each designer tried to outdo each other to gain the attention of the press for their collections.  One of the ways they did this was to invite celebrities to attend the fashion show.  Lionel Hampton and his orchestra played during one of the dinners.  Lonnie Anderson, George Hamilton, Ed Asner and Tell Savalas also were in attendance at other events during this time.

President Richard Nixon

I received a telephone call from President Nixon's secret service one warm September day.  The agent said that the President would like to go for a swim in the ocean.  They asked if he could use our beach and would we allow him to change in the hotel.  I said of course and it then became quite a regular occasion for him to come for a swim during the off season.  On one of the President's visits I introduced him to some of the staff with names like Ryan, Judge, McCabe, Hennicke, McCrink, Carmody, etc.  He started laughing and said do you have to be Irish to work here!  He then told us all about his wife's Irish roots.

We sold the Essex and Sussex hotel in 1985 and went to live full time in Ireland in Woodstown House, County Waterford.  Like Ed Carmody the hotel business was in our blood and it wasn't too long before we were looking for another property.  We purchased the Inn at Whitefield and the Mountain View Hotel and Golf Course.  We spent ten pleasant summers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Our travels then took us to Northern France where we purchased the Chateau de Remaisnil, the former home of Laura Ashley.  We developed this property into a small hotel.  It was located in the Somme region and near many of the World War I memorials.  It was a very interesting and historic area.  Our son, Charlie, took over management for us.  He now lives and operates his own restaurant in Middleburg, Virginia called the Fox's Den Tavern.  Our daughters Julia and Siobhan live and work in Dublin, Ireland.

It has been a pleasure for me to reminisce about my time living and working at the Essex and Sussex.  I was delighted to be asked to contribute something about the hotel during its 100th Anniversary.  It truly is a historic landmark and it is wonderful for me to see it so beautifully restored.

**These are some excerpts from Terri Carroll's book, "Life on the American Plan"**


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