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Wildwoods Shore Resort Historic District

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Title: Wildwoods Shore Resort Historic District  
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Wildwoods Shore Resort Historic District

The Wildwoods Shore Resort Historic District, or Doo Wop Motel District, is an area in The Wildwoods, New Jersey, that was home to over 300 motels built during the Doo-Wop era of the 1950s and 1960s. Officially recognized as a historic district by the State of New Jersey, it lies primarily in the municipality of Wildwood Crest, along a two mile stretch between Atlantic and Ocean avenues, and includes areas in Wildwood and North Wildwood.[1][2] The term doo-wop was coined by Cape May's Mid-Atlantic Center For The Arts in the early 1990s to describe the unique, space-age architectural style, which is also referred to as the Googie or populuxe style.[3]

The motels are very stylized, with Vegas-like neon signs, plastic palm trees, and fantastic architecture.[4] Construction of condominia in the area has resulted in the demolition of many motels, but the Wildwood Doo Wop Preservation League has taken action to help save and restore the remaining historic buildings.[5] The Caribbean Motel in Wildwood Crest, and the Chateau Bleu Motel in North Wildwood are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A 1950s Doo Wop museum has recently been built which contains property from demolished motels such as neon signs and furniture. Neo-Doo Wop buildings in the area feature a neon lit Wawa and a 1950s styled Acme Supermarket.


Motel construction in the Wildwoods began in the early 1950s. 1958 was a banner year for construction in Wildwood Crest, with the opening of the Satellite, Caribbean, El Reno (later the South Beach Motel), Sand Castle, Swan Motel and Tangiers motels. The Rio Motel, in Wildwood proper, also made its debut that spring.[6] New motels were built into the 1970s.

The Morey Brothers

Many of these Doo-Wop motels were designed by the brothers Lewis J. (Lou) and Wilburt C. (Will) Morey, born in West Wildwood in 1925 and 1927, respectively. In 1952, their company Morey Brothers Builders built Wildwood's first motel, the single-story Jay's Motel, at the corner of Hildreth and Atlantic Avenues. In 1955 they dissolved their formal business partnership and began to work more independently on motel designs.[7]


Doo Wop motels generally include U-shaped or L-shaped designs of two or three stories, asymmetric elements, swimming pools, adjacent parking or second story sun decks over parking spaces, plastic palm trees, angular walls or windows, flat overhanging roofs, prominent neon signs and railing, bright colors, and a contemporary or fantasy theme. References to popular culture or history were also common. The themes or sub-styles have been classified as: Modern/Blastoff, Vroom, Chinatown Revival, Tiki (Polynesian Pop), and Phony Colonee. The Blastoff style is reminiscent of the jet-age airports of the 1950s and 1960s. The Vroom style includes forward-thrusting building elements. Phony Colonee imitates the mass market Colonial Revival architecture of the 1950s and 1960s with Colonial American brick and lamppost elements[8][9]

Neon signs

Each motel typically had one or more large, garish neon signs used to draw in passing motorists to their establishment. These signs became part of the architectural style and motels competed to have the most distinctive sign. Two firms supplied most of the signs, Ace Sign Company and Allied Sign Company, with W. Robert Hentges becoming the best known local sign designer. Hentges originally worked for Ace, then moved to Allied, and later founded his own company. Local laws banned flashing signs and limited revolving signs.[10]

Existing motels

Caribbean Motel

Main article: Caribbean Motel

The Caribbean Motel in Wildwood Crest, built in 1958 and now restored, was the first motel to use the full-size plastic palm trees that now adorn most of the Doo Wop motels in the area.[11] The motel was saved from demolition in 2004, when it was purchased by George Miller and Caroline Emigh, who succeeded in getting the property placed on the national historic registry. After reading the book, How to Doo Wop: the Wildwoods-by-the-Sea Handbook of Design Guidelines published by the Doo Wop Preservation League, they were so impressed by the suggested designs of Philadelphia architect Anthony Bracali that they hired him to oversee restoration of the motel. The interior design was done by Darleen Lev, a designer from New York City who was staying at the motel around the time that Miller and Emigh bought the property. An admirer of the Technicolor film process, Lev's designs are modeled on movie sets of the 1950s, as well as reflecting the motel's Caribbean motif. The Caribbean Motel was owned by the Rossi family for more than 30 years, until the early 1990s.[12]

Chateau Bleu Motel

Main article: Chateau Bleu Motel

Located in North Wildwood, Chateau Bleu Motel was built in 1962 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 25, 2004.[13][14] It features a heart shaped swimming pool.

Oceanview Motel

The Oceanview Motel in Wildwood Crest, which was built in 1964, is the largest motel ever built in The Wildwoods. In 2009, the owners had plans to demolish the motel to make way for condominia, but it was rejected by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The Oceanview was originally named the Admiral East Motel, when the Admiral West Motel (now the Admiral Resort Motel), shared the same owner.

Other motels

Notable existing motels also include: The Jolly Roger, The Pan American, The Crusader, The Waikiki, The Newport, The Sea Shell, The Admiral, The Adventurer, The Carriage Stop, The Granada, The Tangiers and the Yankee Clipper.

Extant historic motels

style="background-color:"|Name style="background-color:"|Image style="background-color:"|Built style="background-color:"|Location style="background-color:"|Coordinates style="background-color:"|Description
Admiral Motel 1971 Rambler Rd & Atlantic Ave. -74.8293|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Admiral Motel


Once the Admiral West, when its

neighbor across the street was also

called Admiral (East).

Date is circa - does not appear on a

1970 overhead of property (see - is listed in 1973

G.W.H.M. Accommodations Directory

Aqua Beach Buttercup & Ocean Ave. -74.8246|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Aqua Beach


Armada By The Sea 1973 Forget-me-not & Beach Ave. -74.8311|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Armada By The Sea


American Safari 1969 Lavender & Ocean Ave. -74.8257|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=American Safari


Zoo theme
Astronaut Motel 1963 Stockton & beach -74.8359|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Astronaut


Date is circa - the Astronaut is

visible on a 1963 overhead of the

property (see

Does not appear in 1961 G.W.H.M

Accommodations Directory (though

hotels/motels did not necessarily


Attache Resort 1966 Heather & Ocean Ave. -74.8261|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Attache


Aztec Resort 1960 Lavender & Atlantic Ave. -74.8263|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Aztec Resort


Its western annex building is older and

was originally the Coral Sands Motel

Beach Colony Motel 1963 Stockton & Ocean Ave. -74.8367|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Beach Colony


Originally the Golden Nugget.

Date is circa - the Golden Nugget is

visible on a 1963 overhead of the

property (see

Does not appear in 1961 G.W.H.M

Accommodations Directory.

Bel Air 1956 Morning Glory & Ocean Ave. -74.8250|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Bel Air


Just north of the Caribbean. "7-shaped"

Date is circa - the Bel Air appears on a

1956 overhead of the property (see

Originally one floor.

Bristol Plaza 1970 Rosemary & Beach Ave.
Wildwood Crest
-74.8305|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Bristol Plaza


Cape Cod Inn 1966 Sweetbriar & Atlantic Ave.
Wildwood Crest
-74.8293|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Cape Cod Inn


Originally three floors, and expanded to

four in the 2000's.

Cara Mara 1963 Fern & Ocean Ave. -74.8329|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Cara Mara


Date is circa - the Cara Mara is visible

on a 1963 overhead of the property


Does not appear in 1961 G.W.H.M

Accommodations Directory.

Originally two floors, without oceanfront


Caribbean Motel 1958 Buttercup & Ocean Ave.
Wildwood Crest
58|45|N|74|49|32|W|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Caribbean Motel


Listed on the NRHP

Owners claim it opened in 1957.

Conca d’or Motel
Crystal Beach Motor Inn
Diamond Crest
Fleur de Lis Resort 1966
Gold Crest 1967
Gondolier 1965 Lavender & Beach Ave.
Wildwood Crest
-74.8255|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Gondolier


Italian themed, "F shaped"
Imperial 500 1964 Forget-Me-Not Road &

Atlantic Avenue,

Wildwood Crest

East end expanded to four floors (from

the original three) in the first half of the


Jolly Roger 1959 Originally on the beach, before Ocean

Avenue expanded south.

Nassau Inn 1969 Date is circa - appears in 1970 overhead

of property (see

Ocean Holiday 1973
Oceanview 1963 Rambler Rd and Ocean Ave. Date is circa - appears in 1963 overhead

of property (see

Does not appear in 1961 G.W.H.M

Accommodations Directory.

Originally called Admiral, and later

Admiral East (once the West motel

was built across the street), then by

1992 it became the Ocean View.

Initially two floors.

Olympic Island
Pan American 1964
Park Lane 1963 Date is circa - appears in 1963 overhead

of property (see

Does not appear in 1961 G.W.H.M

Accommodations Directory.

Pink Orchid
Royal Hawaiian 1969 Orchid & Ocean Ave.
Wildwood Crest
-74.8359|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Royal Hawaiian


Polynesian Pop

East wing is from 1969, West wing

from 1978

Sand Castle Motel
Sand Dune
Saratoga Inn 1960 Stanton & Ocean -74.8375|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Saratoga Inn


Phoney Colonee
Sea Chest Motel
Sea Drift
Sea Scape Inn
Shalimar 1964 Rosemary & Atlantic Ave.
Wildwood Crest
-74.8312|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Shalimar


Restored in 2005 & expanded to allow

for two-floor units + single level motel

rooms, raising the height to five stories

(originally three).

Singapore 1964
Tangiers 1958
Viking 1960 Columbine & Ocean Ave.
Wildwood Crest
Date is circa - the Viking is listed in a

1961 G.W.H.M. Accommodations


V.I.P. 1965 Forget-me-not & Atlantic Ave.
Wildwood Crest
Waikiki 1969 Wisteria & Beach Ave. -74.8292|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Waikiki


By the beach & library, Polynesian Pop

Date is circa - appears in 1970 overhead

of property (see

Waters Edge Ocean Resort
Yankee Clipper 1966 Cardinal & Ocean Ave.
Wildwood Crest
-74.8288|type:landmark_region:US-NJ name=Yankee Clipper


Demolished motels

From 2003 to 2006, over 50 motels had been demolished to make way for condominium development. In addition to the Ebb Tide, notable demolished motels in the area included the Satellite, Kona Kai, Waterways, Christine Motor Inn, Fantasy and Rio motels.[12]

Ebb Tide Motel

The Ebb Tide Motel, built in 1957 and demolished in 2003, is credited as the first Doo-Wop motel in Wildwood Crest.[3][15]

The Sea Rose Motel

The Sea Rose Motel, which was owned by Stanley and Catherine Stefankiewicz, was demolished in Fall 2004. The motel was owned for many years by the Stefankiewicz Family, who also owned the Poplar Cafe which is now known as "Goodnight Irenes".

Satellite Motel

Built in 1958, the Satellite Motel was one of the Wildwoods' signature "Doo Wop" landmarks until its demolition after the 2004 season, sparking a wave of redevelopment in the area that winter. It was located on the northeast corner of Atlantic & Aster in Wildwood Crest. The Satellite's rooftop neon sign was installed as part of the Neon Garden at the Doo Wop Experience museum in May 2008.[6] The motel was featured prominently in Thomas Hine's 1986 book, Populuxe.[16]

See also


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