History

Sea Girt Lifeguard Headquarters 1964-2006 • Rest in Peace!

History

Sea Girt Lifeguards have a rich history of Lifesaving within the Borough. From the Boroughs early years at the end of the 19th Century into the turn of the 20th Century when Sea Girt became a destination for beach goers – Lifeguards have played an integral role in the towns development. The Sea Girt Lighthouse was integral in providing navigation for ships at sea and also worked side by side with the early lifesavers of the United States Lifesaving Service (USLSS).

Visitors and residents both enjoyed the beauty of the Sea Girt Beach and with the military base as well as a train station in town – daily summer visitors helped put Sea Girt on the map. The bathing pavilion at Chicago served as the hub for all beach activities from the early 1900s until a storm damaged it beyond repair in the mid 60s. The Pavilion was relocated to the current location as a temporary fix to the loss of the Chicago Pavilion. Lifeguards were normally stationed on duty at Chicago Blvd Beach in the early years and normally consisted of a small crew of 3-8 Lifesavers a day.

The rescue of so many lives when the Morrow Castle caught fire off the shores of Sea Girt was a heroic moment for the Lifeguards of Sea Girt. More information can be found in the Sea Girt Lighthouse documenting these multiple acts of heroism.

In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s the town grew, the size of the Lifeguard staff grew and the number of beaches covered expanded. The 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s saw the Lifeguards covering the Boroughs 1.1 miles of beach with about 7 Lifeguard stands. Some beaches due to erosion – had the Lifeguards sitting west of the boardwalk as the water washed under the boardwalk.

The summer of 1998 saw the beaches begin to be replenished with a beach renourishment program through the army corps of engineers. The beach now was a wide span of sand with the majority of jetties covered. The new sand led to expansion of protected areas, equipment, Lifeguard staffing and an agreement with the State of New Jersey and the National Guard Training Center Beach in town to provide Lifeguard Services for these beaches which now connected with the newly built beaches in the Borough.

What started out as response for 911 calls to the beaches at the NGTC have now blossomed to 4 Lifeguard Towers spread out on their .7 miles of beach. This additional coverage area has the current Beach Patrol protecting 1.8 miles of beachfront for the Borough and the NGTC beaches, split into four zones with 18 Lifeguard stations spread out. The “temporary pavilion” built in 1964 was demolished in 2005 to make room for the current and new Beach Pavilion, Concession Stand, Bath House Lockers, Bathrooms, First Aid Room and Lifeguard Headquarters built and in service for the summer of 2006.

The building has weathered two major storms since its construction with Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 which washed out the first floor of Lifeguard HQ and all the storage lockers under the pavilion as well as a complete loss of the 3/4 miles of boardwalk. The pavilion, Lifeguard HQ and storage as well as the boardwalk was all repaired and rebuilt for the 2013 summer season.

The Beach Patrol is in constant search of recovering and preserving our history. Our Lifeguard Headquarters has many many pictures and artifacts from years past right back to the 1927 Lifeguards Group Picture. Please help us add to the missing years and fill in the blanks – if you know of anyone who worked as a Lifeguard – maybe a neighbor or family member – in prior years, maybe has some artifacts or pictures we do not have – we would love to connect with you. Please stop by Lifeguard Headquarters or email the Lifeguard Chief at [email protected] or the generic beach patrol email at [email protected] with any information. We would be happy to scan the pictures for a digital archive.

New Lifeguard Headquarters • 2007