|Ludlam Beach, NJ|
Description: In the early 1880s, the Lighthouse Board recognized that a light was needed between the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City and the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse at North Wildwood. The gap between these two lighthouses was thirty-three miles, and a site in Sea Isle City, twenty-one miles south of Absecon and twelve miles north of Hereford Inlet, was selected for the new lighthouse. Sea Isle City lots 15 & 16, situated along Ludlam Beach, were purchased and plans for the combination lighthouse and keeper’s dwelling were drawn up in 1884. Besides serving as another light along the Jersey shore, the Ludlam Beach Lighthouse also alerted mariners to a shoal located off nearby Townsend Inlet.
Having been constructed on the beach, the lighthouse was susceptible to flooding during violent storms. The Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board recorded the effect of one such storm.
Much damage was done to this station by the storm of September 19, 1889, and the danger of its destruction was such that it became necessary to take out the illuminating apparatus [4th order Fresnel lens] and to abandon the light-house during the continuance of the storm [hurricane]. A new wooden sea-wall on the ocean front … had just been completed and was not apparently hurt, but the old wall connecting with it and extending around the rear of the site, was broken on both its upper and lower sides, most of the filling was washed out and the upper and part of the rear and front foundation walls of the lighthouse and dwelling were undermined. The foundation walls were rebuilt and the chimney was underpinned. A new wooden sea-wall, extending across the rear of the light-house lot, with a return of 50 feet on each side connecting it with the wall on the front, was built and filled in with sand and a top dressing of gravel.
The wooden seawall was replaced by a concrete one in 1900. However, even it could not withstand battering, storm-driven waves, as it was damaged during a severe storm in 1914. Fed up with the need for frequent repairs, Superintendent J.T. Yates of the Lighthouse Service, wrote the following report to headquarters: “This station is not a very important station and it is not considered that a great deal should be expended in protecting same, until more urgent cases have been cared for elsewhere.”
It wouldn’t be the ocean that sealed the fate of the lighthouse, but rather the keeper’s pet. On the night of November 21, 1923, Keeper Hardwick's pet knocked over a kerosene lamp that had been left burning in the kitchen. When Hardwick realized the lighthouse was on fire, smoke in the hallway forced him to escape through his bedroom window. Unable to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher or the garden hose, Hardwick ran to the nearby Coast Guard station for help.
By the time the fire was put out, the kitchen was lost along with a third of the roof. A temporary patch was applied to the roof, but it was torn away by a storm before permanent repairs could be made. Deemed uninhabitable, the dwelling was put on the auction block in 1924. The Seven Mile Beach Reporter carried the following notice: “The old Sea Isle City lighthouse, which for 44 years guided mariners along the coast, will be abandoned and the building, one of the first on the island, will be dismantled and sold to the highest bidder for the material it contains.”
Charles Adams, a Philadelphia school teacher who has owned the lighthouse since 1993, announced in 2006 that he would like to build a new structure on the half-million dollar corner lot that currently brings in only a small fraction of what it could. In response to this announcement, Bob Uhrmann founded Friends of the Ludlam's Beach Lighthouse to relocate, restore, and operate the lighthouse, which Adams has said he is willing to donate to the group.
City Commissioner James Iannone envisions the restored lighthouse as a way for the area to reclaim a part of its past. “I think Sea Isle is starving for its history, and this is part of it. All we need to do is find a suitable location. In my point of view, the expense is not as much as the heritage it's going to leave for the children. I've watched a lot of old properties go down with a lot of character, and Sea Isle really needs some local point in terms of its history."
Visitors to the beach community passed the old lighthouse for years, ignorant of the colorful history the brightly colored residence had, but this changed on September 21, 2010, when the structure was torn down after sufficient funds could not be raised to relocate the lighthouse.
Formerly located in Sea Isle City at 3414 Landis Avenue.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, Marilyn Stiborek, used by permission.