A Rich History Inviting Nostalgia

Mention “Shelter Haven” to the average, long-time Stone Harbor resident or visitor and they may tell you about fond memories from idyllic childhood family vacations – stories about catching their first sea bass and taking a dip off the docks right outside the elegant dining room of the three-story Shelter Haven Motel of the 1960s. Some might even fondly recall a quaint, but formidable, Victorian-esque building and how it reminds them of home, or the bygone days of a former Stone Harbor, before modernization refaced this quiet, seaside community.

Further back, perhaps beyond their own memories, in some yellowed scrap books and news clippings reminiscent of the blockbuster film Titanic, from the same year – 1912 – will be stories of “the Brightest Spot in Stone Harbor” and how, that very year, in the midst of southern New Jersey shore’s August tourist season, The Shelter Haven Hotel opened to 53 guests. There were a high number of bookings throughout September of that year, and an inaugural banquet was held in Shelter Haven’s high-ceilinged and expansive dining room. The hotel had 60 luxuriously appointed rooms with plush carpeting and elegant, but homestyle, furniture. The basement of The Shelter Haven was home to its Grand Floor, which housed a buffet, pool rooms, and Stone Harbor’s first fully equipped barber shop.

The property also had a yacht landing wharf on Shelter Haven basin, and its café was located right over the water. Eventually yacht-owners would have “yachting parties” that traveled throughout Wildwood, Cape May, and Ocean City. Stops on the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroad lines were right within a block of the Shelter Haven Hotel and this was the vacation place to be.

The original Shelter Haven Hotel represents the history and heart of Stone Harbor’s past. Looking ahead, The Reeds at Shelter Haven, scheduled to open its doors to a new era more than 100 years after its predecessor, promises to lay its own historical foundation with memories that our grandchildren will share with theirs.