Sea Breeze, NJ~ Is the “Bees Knees” on the Delaware Bay

Sea Breeze, NJ

Delaware Bay

Only one way in and only one way out.

I like to study maps for a lot of my adventures for this website. I found this area because of a very long beach I saw on google earth. After I did a bit of research, I soon found out it’s an abandoned town. Sea Breeze is much like Thompsons beach I have written about before. I soon discovered after even more research, that this place was a very happening town in the early 1900s.

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Picture of some of the remaining homes, an old lifeguard stand, and beach in Sea Breeze, NJ.

Sea Breeze was first incorporated in the 1800s. A rebuilt steamship called the John A. Warner would transport folks from Philadelphia to this bay town. The “John A. Warner” played a huge part in the civil war. It transported union soldiers to and fro the battlegrounds. This ship was built locally in Wilmington, DE. and was the fastest ship of that era. The John A. Warner is referred to as one of the three musketeers that trolled the Delaware. The other 2 were called Columbia and Twilight. During the Civil War, the John A. Warner was a haven for wounded soldiers. It transported Union soldiers to a hospital in North Jersey for recovery. I have been able to find some old writings of the soldiers onboard. It also aided in the transport of the soldiers for combat in the South.

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Royalty free picture I found on the John A. Warner steamship

Almost 20 years later, this poor steamer was a bit defunct. However, two businessmen from Gloucester City, NJ. sought an opportunity and fixed this bad boy back up. They began an operation of transporting vacationers to and from Sea Breeze in 1887. At this time, is when Sea Breeze was in its heyday. There was an amusement pier with a carousel, a tavern, and a hotel. Plus, an expansive beach for bathing beauties.

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The expansive bay road in Sea Breeze. Homes once stood to the left of the road and a few ruins remain

It was the Bees Knees leading up to the 20th century to the prohibition era. Its access to the water was a great way to secretly transport illegal alcohol during this time. Making it a popular drinking refuge like Atlantic City was at the time. Drink up my friends.

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Picture of the few remnants of decks on the back bay

After the prohibition, there were a few taverns that burned down. People didn’t need to travel here for liquor any longer since it was legal. The Jersey Shore became popular with the expansive boardwalks and attractions. A highway was developed traveling from Philadelphia to the Atlantic City. Also, a railway.

Sea Breeze was becoming a distant memory because of the location and no direct route or access to get here.

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Old ruins

It became a small fishing village over the last 70 years, with a nice beach, and bay front homes. A true oasis from everyday life. Serene and quiet.

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The Beautiful Delaware Bay

By 2008, beach erosion and severe storms over the years were damaging homes. Six of the nineteen homeowners asked the government to buy their homes. In 2010, the last remaining homeowners sold their property.

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Another back bay deck

It is now an abandoned town. My GPS wouldn’t even pick it up and was “blacked out.” The government has knocked down most of the homes and what remains is the beach, some old homes, and a few back bay docks. A few homes were tragically burned to the ground. In what some people say was a bit “sketchy.” Since most folks were trying to sell their homes to the government with no avail. Eventually the government purchased the homes outright, but with a big fight from the local residents to do so.

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Beach area at end of street

Sea Breeze is now a wildlife refuge. It is a gorgeous property. Expansive views of the bay and wildlife all around you. The ride coming in is gorgeous and is nicely isolated so that there aren’t many people around except for a few folks catching fish.

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Back marsh in Sea Breeze, NJ

A great place to bring the dogs and let them explore. To feel free and let the wind blow in your hair. There is true beauty all around you.

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Back bay marsh area

Enjoy your day here. Just bring the bug spray and pack a picnic lunch! It’s truly a magical place.

14 thoughts on “Sea Breeze, NJ~ Is the “Bees Knees” on the Delaware Bay

  1. Visited Sea Breeze 4/18/13 looks like Sandy had her way with the sea wall. The shed from your photo is lying on its side and Beach ave. is almost undriveable even if you ignore the road block.

    • Steve, I was there about a week or two ago. It is pretty bad. Folks still have property there and they are rebuilding. God bless them. I parked at the roadblock and just walked around. I posted a before and after shot from a year ago to recently on the facebook page.

      Hopefully the link goes through so you can see it. Hope you still enjoyed your time there. I still thnk it is a beautiful place. -Best, YG

      • Visited Sea Breeze 4/18/13 looks like Sandy had her way with the sea wall. The shed from your photo is lying on its side and Beach ave. is almost undriveable even if you ignore the road block.

  2. One other observation from our trip to Sea Breeze, we had to ask a few locals for directions and as helpful as they were, they all had the same tag line of ” you know there’s nothing back there” Nice to know that that local folks think enough of this place to want to protect it from outsiders.

  3. Spent many summer days in Sea Breeze as a child. There were boats you could rent. Go crabbing fishing or just swim. Harry owned the Bar and his daughter Mae served food. Lots of fond memories. There was a pig that would stand in the water and get cooled off and people would give him a drink of soda. This was a long time ago, sometime in the 1940s and 50s. My first memories were when I was about six, I’m 71 now. Was there maybe 15 years ago the bar was in ruins. everything I remembered was gone. Very sad, AnnaMae McClure

    • I’m Mae’s grandson and I grew up spending many summers at Sea Breeze. My family lived outside of Philadelphia so going to visit Grandmom wasn’t that far. I used to fish off the old barges that sat right outside her Sea Breeze Tavern. The barges held the row boats that my great-grandfather Harry would rent long before I was born. There were many bedrooms on the second floor of the restaurant where we slept. Many good memories of myself and my cousins swimming, fishing and certainly crabbing. I was too young to have seen the pig but I heard many stories about him. I’m 56 so a little younger than you AnnaMae but my memories of the 60s and 70s were similar to yours from the 40s and 50s – not much changed down there. I have many photographs from back then and also one of the stained-glass chandelier lamps from the restaurant hanging from my kitchen ceiling. Can’t even begin to recount all the memories.

      • Dear Paul I was wondering did you know my family ?i grew up down there also I am 54 now ,but I remember every thing also ,Ed and George used to hang with us,,,our house was at the end of the boardwalk ,first house on beach in front of the barge that the boardwalk was attach to.i had a lot of memory’s there , and really miss it,(my dad was Tom clover, your grandmom Mae knew him well.we used to hang on the barge with the row boats, and the building we called the white house in front of it where we had bonfires…lots of memory’s .

        • Hi Cathy!! I do remember you and where you guys lived. One particular memory of you was a hike a bunch of us did down the beach and we encountered a rather large water snake in an inlet. We all took off running as if the thing was going to chase us!! I do not remember any of your siblings but I believe you had a brother around my age? Also, did your family have a boat? I have a memory of going out towards Ship John lighthouse with you and others. You may even remember my other cousins, Joe and Christine, who were younger than us but they lived (I believe) in the last bungalow on the boardwalk, probably next door to you guys? Anyway… I could write all day. What a time though, huh?

  4. Pingback: Two South Jersey Bloggers Explore The Area’s Secrets, From the Pine Barrens to the Rural Communities. – The Glassboro History Handbook

  5. Great stories! I would love to see some of the old photos of Seabreeze that some of the past residents might have. Someone should write a book about the place…it really has quite an interesting history

  6. I remember my boyfriend (now husband) Taking me for a date to the tavern/restaurant on a date. There was a man playing I believe a fiddle. Would really love to see pictures of this wonderful place! Thanks to all who have written. Love the memories. Also my Dad always rented a house at Gandys Beach for a few weeks every year.

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