The George Moss Collection at Monmouth University

Monmouth County Then and Now

By Austin Bond, Introduction to Public History, Spring 2018

My classmate Alexis Martin noted on her page, "Collection Overview," that "Locals observing the collection will note that a lot of places pictured are still standing..." I'd like to share just a few examples with you here. 

The George H. Moss, Jr. collection does an amazing job of capturing what Long Branch, New Jersey looked like in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. The collection features detailed photos that exemplify what life was like for not just the Gilded Age tycoons in their summer "cottages," which we'd mostly call mansions today, but also the average person living in central New Jersey back then. Many of the buildings pictured still stand; many locales are still recognizable. 

First example: In the town of Long Branch, the Guggenheim Residence is one of the most well-known buildings in the past and present. In the early 1900s, the building was first created and owned by the Guggenheims, thus giving it its name. Leonie, Murry, and their two children enjoyed the arched walls, a beautifully landscaped courtyard, curved stairwells, glass doors, and an extravagant chandelier. The family spent many summers in this beautiful mansion. Fast forward a couple years, and the Guggenheim Foundation donated the residence to the beautiful Monmouth College. To this day, the mansion is owned by Monmouth University and is the official library of its many students. From then to now, the library today is still as beautiful as the Guggenheim mansion was 113 years ago.

Second example: In 1903, President of the New York Life Insurance Company, John A. McCall, had a mansion made just for him. The 52 room residence, known as "Shadow Lawn," was a beautifully constructed home. Some called it "the Summer White House" after President Woodrow Wilson visited during his time in office. Unfortunately, in 1927 a fire broke out in the home and destroyed most of the framework. The home currently standing on the site was built for Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Templeton Parson. Mr. Parson was the President of the Woolworth Company. The couple lost everything during the Great Depression, though. The building became a private girls school for a time, and was acquired by the then Monmouth College in 1956. Interestingly, this mansion was used in the popular movie Annie in 1982. Today, Wilson Hall is a main attraction at Monmouth University and is admired by many people.

We hope you will visit the Collection to find more examples of Monmouth County then and now! 

Further Reading: