"Ocean Grove was founded in 1869 as a Victorian-era outgrowth of the camp meeting movement in the United States, when a group of Methodist clergymen, led by William B. Osborn and Ellwood H. Stokes, formed the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to develop and operate a summer camp meeting site on the New Jersey seashore. The community's land is still owned by the camp meeting association and leased to individual homeowners and businesses. Ocean Grove remains the longest-active camp meeting site in the United States and is known as, "the Jewel of the Jersey Shore." Ocean Grove has the highest concentration of authentic Victorian architecture in the country. This national historic treasure offers one square mile of natural beauty, including pristine beaches, tree-lined streets, serene boardwalk and parks, music & lecture programs, unique eateries, magnificent Inns, and a quaint shopping district."
Inside the auditorium
Some pictures of the tent colony
As the name implies, Camp Meetings were just that, camp grounds were visitors lived in tents during the summer months to attend the religious meetings held on the grounds. Because of its many groves of trees, especially pines, Ocean Grove, which got its name from the tree groves, was a perfect retreat. Visitors were able to escape the heat of the big cities in the summer and live a more simple life in the tents which surrounded the squares where the meetings were held. Originally Ocean Grove's meetings were open air, with the worshipers sitting on rough hewn pine benches in a semi circle around a "preacher's stand" capable of seating up to 75 ministers.
However, as Ocean Grove grew in size and popularity, permanent structures began replacing the tents and many of the groves of trees were cut down to provide room for the building. Of the original 600 tents only 114 exist today. The fully modernized tents today have a wooden back room, with modern facilities including bathrooms, kitchens and sleeping space. The structure provides a place to store the canvass tents in the winter as well as providing the tenters a place to store their personal belongings. Then in the spring the tents are taken out and placed over their wood frames on the front of the platform. When the summer residents return to their tents they bring out their rugs, furniture and personal items and begin the process of decorating their canvas parlors. Many of the tenters plant gardens and individualize and personalize their tents by painting the porch rails, adding furniture and also decorative elements. Although living in a canvass tent for three months of the year provides little privacy from their neighbors at times, the tenters relish their unique community and return year after year."