HISTORIAN & WEB SERIES HOST LAUNCHES HISTORY TOURS IN OCEAN GROVE
Ocean Grove is one intriguing square mile of history and mystery that holds lots of questions and curiosities. Historian, author and longtime resident Kim Brittingham plans to change that, as well as enlighten about other regional landmarks with the launch of Tiny Tours of Ocean Grove.
Host and producer of the viral video series “Curiosities of Ocean Grove” that’s been viewed thousands of times, Brittingham’s content and delivery adds an entirely new, contemporary perspective to our history-rich area. Now, she’s welcoming guests to her inaugural bus trip tour to the legendary Merchant’s House in New York City, a fundraiser for the Ocean Grove Historical Society. I spoke with multi-talented Brittingham last week.
TBP: You have been thinking and planning Tiny Tours for years down to the smallest detail.
Brittingham: I launched Tiny Tours of Ocean Grove because I wanted to create the kind of history-related events and experiences that celebrated local history and made it engaging and entertaining for everyone. I wanted to orchestrate a richer experience than what someone can plan on their own – with friends or by themselves. My goal was to choreograph something wonderful where you can sit back and relax; where all your needs will be met. When I go on a bus trip I want to be swept away and that is what I am planning for the first Victorian bus tour to the Merchant’s House Museum on Saturday, Nov. 5. The day trip will be like a 19th Century tea party on wheels and costume is welcome (but not imperative).
The Merchant’s House is a beautifully furnished 1832 row house with a fascinating history. Tickets for this tour include luxury bus transportation between Ocean Grove and the museum in New York. On the way to New York City we’ll enjoy savory pies and sweets catered by Burbelmaier’s of Ocean Grove, and we’ll watch a film version of the Henry James novel Washington Square which some believe was inspired by the tragic love story of Gertrude Tredwell who lived in the Merchant’s House throughout the 19th Century. I’ve arranged for a private guided tour of the museum and extra time to enjoy the space and take photos of each other in the sumptuous parlor – a gorgeous backdrop.
Also, I’m now leading scheduled themed walking tours of Ocean Grove. I aim to pack as much information as possible into a history-rich tour that’s no longer than 60 minutes. I’ve incorporated photos into the tour so you’ll get a then-and-now experience as we go along. This year’s tour theme is “Fun and Leisure in Early Ocean Grove”.
Did you know that “The Celebrated C.C.C. Bathing Shoe” was invented in Ocean Grove in 1877? What’s the Ocean Grove connection to Harry Houdini, and what was the afterlife bargain he made with his mom? What was it illegal to do with your bathing suit in Ocean Grove in the 19th Century? Why were people from London to the mining camps of the California Gold Rush talking about Ocean Grove? I share all the answers and much, much more on the walking tours.
TBP: Your local tours are an extension of the popular video history series you produce and host about Ocean Grove on the historical society’s website as well as audio tours you’ve been commissioned to develop for other areas, including New York City. One recent tour participant said you helped her see her hometown from a whole new perspective.
Brittingham: The walking tours are a chance for me to share in-person some of the Ocean Grove stories I’ve discovered through research for my video series. I love sharing what I learn digging around through old newspapers and archives, especially when it comes to local history.
Tour tickets and walking tour schedule at TinyToursOG.com or by calling (732) 305-8677. The Victorian Party Bus to the Merchant’s Museum departs Fireman’s Park on Main Avenue in Ocean Grove at noon on Saturday, Nov. 5, and returns at approximately 6 pm. Reservations are a must. Tickets are $119 and include round-trip bus transportation between Ocean Grove and New York City, lunch, dessert and beverage on board, and a guided museum tour.