By now not many people remember too much about the short lived Seaport Village that is located on 22nd street in North Wildwood. Most new Wildwood visitors, past the summer of 2008,  know it as that empty pier that smells really bad. It’s a shame to know that at one time it had shops, recording studios and a performance stage and was also the local fishing pier, well sort of. 

Take a trip back in time with me as we re-discover the history of Seaport Village.

If you were to look at many historical documents you would notice that Seaport Village and the pier that it sat on didn’t exist until 1988. Before this pier was built there were two another ones in it’s place both called Ocean Point Pier.

1950s

Photo of Ocean Point Pier in the 1950s, By HistoricAerials.com

 Built sometime in the 1930s, Ocean Point Pier was a 300 foot long fishing pier that spurted out into the North Atlantic Ocean.
It even had tarot card readers and horoscope readers who claimed they could predict your future.  The Ocean Point Pier was home to the local fishing club called “The North Wildwood Fishing Club”. Some would say that is was the sister pier to the north of the “Wildwood Crest Fishing Club” and pier that still stands today on the beach, waterless and fishless.

Anyone was able to fish off of this pier for 25 cents a day or $25 for the season running from Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend. Membership into “The Wildwood Fishing Club” allowed you one key and a pass for one guest to fish year round. Membership would also give you access to the “club house” that was an enclosed pavilion in the middle of the pier.

At the end of the pier, on the ocean side, there was a bait stand that offered bait, tackle, hot dogs and sodas. It was a nice convenience to have instead of walking all the way back in land to get what you needed.

1962 after storm

Photo of “After Storm” Pier is almost gone. (You can barely see it on here)

Fishing life on the Ocean Point Pier was great until the storm of 1962. The storm of 1962 ran from March 6th until March 8th and was considered by U.S. Geological Survey to be one of the most destructive storms ever to affect the mid-Atlantic states and was classified as a level 5 Nor’easter. (More to come about this storm on another article).

1964

1964 rebuild of the pier, Notice not near the water. Photo by HistoricAerials

This storm caused so much damage to the pier that all that was left were the pilling.  On top of that the storm moved so much sand that the pier and pillings were too far away from the ocean’s edge. 

Ocean Point Pier Storm

Ocean Point Pier Storm  Photo by Bunky Gretton

With the money raised by the club and the city, a brand new Ocean Point Pier was built at the same length as the original pier. It was the hope of the club that the ocean would return to the original level but never did. Even at high tide the pier was high and dry. In a final attempt to keep the fishing pier alive, they extended the pier 100 feet more making the total length of the pier to 400 feet. It just so happened that, that summer the beach extended further making all their efforts fruitless.

By 1970 the city added steps to the back side of the pier (side facing the ocean), so that people could use it to walk down to the ocean. Long time North Wildwood Police Officer, Roland Bebler, took advantage of the stand at the back of the pier and opened a chair and umbrella rental stand.

After some time the pier had been falling out of shape and honestly was just an eye sore on the North Wildwood Beach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Entrepreneur, Tony Bongiovi, who was a cousin of the famous performer, Jon Bon Jovi, saw the old Ocean Point Pier as a great investment. With other business partners such as Erich Gruetzmann, the team purchased the pier in 1987, knocked it down and built the pier you see today. Of course it looks nothing like it did when it opened in 1988

In Summer 1988, Seaport Village opened with much fanfare. Built with gray buildings with blue and yellow trim, Seaport Village was made to mimic the old fishing piers of New England but with a twist, commercial retail spaces.

2008-08-26-1631-13

Seaport Village was different then the average stores on the boardwalk. It housed a tattoo parlor, a restaurant (C.C. Clams) two radio studios, a performance gazebo, the Wildwood famous “Candy Barrel” and electronic equipment stores.

Just to high light one of the studios called “Star Talent Studios”. This was a place where they would record you singing and make you a music video. In the video below you can see an example of what they did.

Steven Szabo, the manager of Star Talent during the summer of '92...

Photo by Steven Szabo

As the years went on, more and more stores kept on closing. By the end of it’s time the only really worth noting places still open were was the Hawaiian ice stand and the candy barrel. Oh and just to remind everyone of something that terrified me as a kid, who remembers the freaky looking monsters in the buildings?

2004 was the last time the pier was open. The police stayed in the front of the complex as a boardwalk hub but the pier was closed off. In 2008 the city of North Wildwood had the pier claimed as a safety hazard and hired Albrecht & Heun to knock down the New England style building for $92,642. The police placed a trailer there as their new hub and a restroom.

Dale Gerhard

Photo by Dale Gerhard

By now I know you are wondering, why hasn’t anyone tried to do anything with the pier yet. Truth this that many people have tried. It isn’t as easy as one would thing to get something moving from scratch.

In 2007 the city had a contract with an redevelopment company named “WB Resorts Development” who wanted to turn the pier into a 90,000 square foot pirate themed indoor water park. They also were going to have a 16 story tall hotel connecting it from the street side of the boardwalk. This fell though as the as the economy crashed in 2008. (NOTE: I used to have renderings of what it was supposed to look like. When I find them I will upload them)

Sadly I wish I could leave this article with a hope for the future but as of right now I do not see that hope.   I do want to know what you think about this. Below answer this one question. What would you like to see done with Seaport Village?

Thank you and have a Wild day!

Make sure to give us a like on both of our Facebook Pages “The Wildwood Boardwalk” and “Wildwood Archive

Thank you for the following people and websites for the photos and information.

HistoricalAerials.com (For all the aerial photos) (They Provided them free of charge) Thank you!!!!

Press of Atlantic City

Philadelphia Inquirer

Joseph Contino (Sr)

Steven Szabo, Dale Gerhard, Tim Stevens, Rachel Wright.



About The Author

My name is Joey Contino. I am a big lover of anything Wildwood. I have lived and worked in Wildwood my whole life. I worked jobs from working on the beach renting umbrellas and chairs to being a supervisor at Morey's Piers. Wildwood is my life and my home!

22 Responses

  1. Eyewillrefuse@gmail.com'
    Bob D.

    I would like to see a pier with rides from the past. Even if they were reproductions, and not the originals. Obviously the Golden Nugget tops just about everyone’s list when it comes to rides no longer with us, but there are dozens. While the original Wipeout slide is gone, I’ve seen slides nearly identical at your bigger state fairs, etc. I think that as much as nostalgia is a huge influence on Wildwood, in the form of the Doo Wop styling and such, a pier dedicated to nostalgia inducing attractions would be a big draw for parents like myself, trying to give their kids a further glimpse into what Summer’s on the Wildwood Boardwalk were like for us, before they were ever a thought in our minds.

    Reply
  2. mploschke@gmail.com'
    Mary

    I would love to see the pier be restored back to a pier with shops and a restaurant as it was when it was called Seapoint Village. Lots of great times on that pier!!

    Reply
  3. Minriedel@gmail.com'
    Melinda

    I have always imagined a year round establishment going on that pier. The reason being that I truely believe people would come if they had a reason. I use Montego Bay as my example. People go year round so what if you could build off of that establishment? I have often been there in the winter with my children and wished there was more to do at night. A small closed in pier with rides and a restraunt mini golf, etc that could be opened up in summer or maybe a luxury hotel with a spa to add a higher level experience to the town with a pool on the beach and a lazy river. Or maybe use it to put in a swim club.

    Reply
  4. adkeen@msn.com'
    Ann

    I would love to see some Cape May or Stone Harbor quality shops in North Wildwood and a nice restaurant.

    Reply
  5. Alynn829@verizon.net'
    Amy

    Shops would be nice. Not t shirt shops. Real, nice shops. I’m sure the Morey’s would never allow anything to happen there.

    Reply
  6. Mccullough61@vetizon.net'
    Dottie McCullough

    I think they should make the pier with all the retro rides of wildwood past. With hot potato chips and fresh squeezed lemonade.

    Reply
  7. Smithfmom@gmail.com'
    Dorothy

    A resort hotel with indoor and out door pools and amusements, for year round use.

    Reply
  8. sikadeer73@gmail.com'
    John Z

    Our family remembers this pier well. We always stayed–and continue to stay–at the King’s Inn at 23rd and Boardwalk each summer… our first visit there was 1971. Seaport Village was a rather nice spot, actually, and a worthy idea and good addition to the boardwalk’s north end.

    We particularly enjoyed listening to Lou De Meis sing at the far end of the pier a couple of nights a week. But to get there one had to stroll the length of pier to the ocean end, and it was the SMELL of the entire place that was overwhelmingly bad and kept us away for anything but a short visit. I suspect this had a major impact on casual visitors for whom one visit was enough. The crowds never stayed and businesses shuttered.

    I remember asking someone who worked on the pier about the stench and I was told that it was the wood used for the pilings that had been fouled somehow before construction; a fable, perhaps, but it sounded right and quite believable. Subsequent efforts over the years to seal or remove the smell proved unsuccessful. In any event, we always did then and to this day refer to it as “Stink Pier.”

    Reply
  9. debtower@gmail.com'
    Debbie Hightower

    After reading the above comments I think a nostalgia Do-Wop pier sounds like a good idea. I’d much rather see nice shopping go into Pacific Ave, where it used to be, to revitalize the downtown. A good Ace Hardware in the Blue Whale building would be fantastic.

    Reply
  10. jcatinella@verizon.net'
    Joe Cat

    I think a retro pier with rides from the doo wop era would be nice. Golden Nugget, Satalite Jets, Flyer, Jungle ride, caterpillar. Even if somehow enclosed for winter use. I often say the boardwalk could use a good restaurant with a beach bar to take the place of the now closed Coconut Cove.

    Reply
  11. Bartie68@yahoo.com'
    Nicholas diguglielmo

    Should mention the man that ran the pier for last 15 years … My fa her … NICK DIGUGLIELMO

    Reply
  12. alnkris@ptd.net'
    AL

    I don’t think getting old rides together for a pier is a feasible endeavor. How bout an adult pier? Stage at the very back with bar and cover bands playing. Maybe restaurant, outdoor style, and a few high end shops near the boardwalk. Something different.

    Reply
  13. jrhenderson16@gmail.com'
    John Henderson

    The C&C clam bar was part of the old pier. It was torn down to build the Seaport Village.

    Reply
  14. hopkinsl2@live.com'
    Laura

    Great idea about a year round pier! I love going down the shore in the winter, but with the exception of AC, there’s not much to do down there! A pier with stuff for people to do; mini golf, games, a few small rides, etc would be great since I have to young kid’s.

    Reply
  15. Bearsahlhockeyfan1@yahoo.com'
    Nicole

    I agree with the nostalgic pier. I think it would be awesome to see some of the old rides come back. One thing that stands out in my mind is the haunted castle. I can remember that as a small child. It was a staple of the wildwood board walk. I also loved watching the old fun house with the sliding stairs and escalator. That was so fun to watch people go through we laughed for hours. Giant slide and golden nugget those things are greatly missed by people who have been vacationing here for many years.

    Reply
  16. lharry@ibj.com'
    Lou Harry

    Terrific read. Thanks for the history. Small correction: You wrote ” It even had tarot card readers and horoscope readers who could predict your future. ” That’s not accurate. Should be “It even had tarot card readers and horoscope readers who CLAIMED they could predict your future.” Buying into such fakery undermines journalistic credibility.
    Keep up the terrific, important work.

    Reply
  17. dearl98@yahoo.com'
    Suzi ( Harry ) Earl

    I am generation 3 of the 5 generations of the George W. Harry family, born and raised in North Wildwood. It is hard for me to ever imagine anything other than the nostalgia and Do-wap era of the Wildwood boardwalk. I now live in Branson, MO with my husband, I am 71 years old and will never forget my wild, wild, Wildwood days! Please don’t change it all too much or too fast, us Wildwood Baby-boomers are kinda stubborn at times!!!! Good luck with your idea!!!!

    Reply

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