Longport is located on the southern tip of Absecon Island.
According to local historian and Mayor Michael Cohen, the first recorded private landowner was Thomas Budd in 1695. He later sold most of the property at cost of 4 cents an acre.
In 1854, Samuel Overshine purchased a parcel of land containing dunes that built-up at the southwestern end of Absecon Island for $130. That same year, he sold a parcel of that land for $10 to Isaac Barton. Three years later, Barton transacted a real estate deal with a James Long.
Long kept the property for 25 years. The property value increased in both value and size. Sand accumulation made the area larger.
Long then purchased more land. An entire block between 12th and 13th ave. He built a beach home there. By the turn of the century, the home was sold and became a sanatorium. The building was destroyed by a storm in 1914.
In 1882, Long decided to sell the land to his friend, M. Simpson McCullough.
McCullough, a renowned Philadelphia lawyer, businessman, developer and builder, thought of developing the area into a “seashore resort.”
McCullough purchased the area, a size of 250 acres, for $150,000. He then named the area “Longport” in honor of the previous parcel owner.
The naturally long port on the bay side also contributed to McCullough’s decision in naming this area, Longport.
Longport became shorter between 1900 and 1916.
Approximately 180 acres of sand moved across the inlet and became what‘s known as the Ocean City Gardens.
This explains why the first avenue of Longport starts at 11th Ave, instead of 1st Ave.
The early years of Longport were far more commercial compared to today. Today, Longport is mostly residential.
In 1911, Peter A. B. Widener purchased beachfront property between 28th and 29th avenues in Longport. He built the Widener Industrial School as a “Summer Seashore Home for Handicapped Children.”
The school was later re-named the Widener Memorial School. During World War I, the building was used to treat soldiers.
In 1944, the Widener School building was purchased by William J. who converted the building into the Essex Beach Club. It remained as a hotel until sold to The Gospel Hall Home for the Aged in 1949.
Longport’s first Borough Hall was once home to the town Society of Natural Sciences. After the borough’s incorporation in 1898, the town bought the society’s building for $4,750. It served as the town’s first Borough Hall.
The United States Coast Guard Building, currently the Longport Historical Society Museum, served as Longport’s second Borough Hall until 1990.
It was constructed in 1849, between 32nd and 34th avenues. A second building was built in 1900 on the oceanside corner of 23rd and Atlantic avenues.
The building then moved in 1912 across Atlantic Avenue to the bay side, where the current Longport Historical Society Museum now sits.
The current Longport Borough Hall building was built in 1924 as the Betty Bacharach Home for Afflicted Children.
The Betty Bacharach Home for Afflicted Children was founded by, two brothers, United States Congressman Isaac Bacharach and Mayor of Atlantic City Harry Bacharach in honor of their mother. The building opened on Mother’s Day in 1924.
By the mid 1940s, the Bacharach Home attained national recognition as a convalescent center for children. Considered as one of the best-equipped institutions in the east for treatment and care of those diagnosed with infantile paralysis.
Longport and state officials built an ocean-facing seawall and a groin at the end of 11th Avenue to prevent further loss of land.
Longport Church of the Redeemer was built in 1908 at 20th & Atlantic Ave in Longport. The design is Mission / Spanish Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival.
It suffered a catastrophic fire in June 2012. The surviving structure was deemed unsafe and demolished a month later. The fire was thought to be started when the church was struck by lightning from a storm
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
The Borough of Longport has a vast history.
Interested in learning more? Visit the Longport Historical Society and Museum, next to Borough Hall at 2301 Atlantic Avenue in Longport.
The museum is open during the summer, Saturdays from 9a. til noon. Contact the Longport Historical Society: 609-823-1115.