An Evening at Ross-Fenton
Sunday, November 13, 2016, at 4 PM - 9
The English Manor, One English Land, Ocean, NJ
Dinner-dance inspired by legendary
Mark your calendar for “An Evening at Ross Fenton Farm,” a
dinner-dance at the English Manor, November, 13, inspired by Wanamassa’s storied
nightclub. We’re recreating the excitement of the Farm in the Roaring Twenties.
A full dinner, swinging music (from the Dorian Parreott band), flapper touches,
and an $80 ticket price promise good value and a great time.
Who were Ross and Fenton?
Mabel Fenton and Charles Ross (born Ada Towne and Charles
Kelly) were a married couple and perhaps the country’s top vaudeville comedy
team of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1898, Mabel and Charlie
bought a “roadhouse” on the lake in Wanamassa and a year later, they opened Ross
Fenton Farm. Their popularity and show business connections proved a winning
combination. The biggest names in vaudeville performed at and frequented their
Mabel and Charlie continued to tour and turned the operation
of the Farm over to professional managers. But for years, they spent each summer
there, hosting the celebrities and power brokers of their day.
Charlie died at Ross Fenton Farm in June 1918, shortly after
his 31st wedding anniversary. Mabel returned to Wanamassa for several summers
after his death before moving to California, where she died in
A mecca for thirsty vacationers
When Ross Fenton Farm opened, a NJ law was in effect banning
alcohol within one mile of any religious camp—legislation that kept Asbury Park
(sitting next to Ocean Grove), dry. Thirsty locals and vacationers flocked to
the Farm, situated just beyond the one-mile limit. This beyond-the-limit appeal
continued. For its almost 50 years—through Prohibition and beyond—Ross Fenton
was famous for its gambling and free-flowing drink. Headlines splashed news of
federal agents raiding its gaming tables and seizing illegal stashes of alcohol.
Mabel herself was arrested in one raid!
A favorite rendezvous for half a
Ross Fenton Farm operated on the banks of Deal Lake from 1899
to 1947. At its height, its 14 acres housed 32 structures, including a hotel,
guest houses, greenhouses, training facilities, and casinos.
From the stars of burlesque to headliners like Fanny Brice,
Danny Kaye, and Jackie Gleason, Ross Fenton Farm offered top-notch entertainment
and world-class dance bands. For decades, it was the fashionable watering hole
of society and show business elite.
Trains and trolleys carried patrons to the dock in Interlaken,
where livery boats ran regularly to the Farm. On summer evenings, Deal Lake was
dotted with rented canoes filled with locals enjoying the live music drifting
across the water.
The Farm passed through a series of operators and owners. It
defied Prohibition and flourished despite the Depression.
The final years
In the early 1940s, Ross Fenton Farm fell on hard times. Ocean
Township foreclosed on the property. It was bought, remodeled, and re-opened in
1943 by theater executive Walter Reade who ran it until it closed for good in
The Farm burned in 1950. The Press put it well, “The brightest
of the Shore’s bright spots died early today [Sept. 6, 1950] as it had lived, in
a blaze of glory.”
Please join us at The English Manor November 13 for our own
version of Ross Fenton fun. Contact the Museum to make your reservation
(732-531-2136 or oceanmuseum.org).
The Township of Ocean Historical Museum, founded in 1984, is a
member-supported, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, incorporated under the laws
of the State of New Jersey. Its headquarters, the Eden Woolley House, is one of
the few 18th century structures still in existence in the Township. The Township
of Ocean Historical Museum offers exhibits on the history of coastal Monmouth
County and a full calendar of events. The Museum also houses a library and
archive of local history. It is open, free of charge, 1 to 4, Tuesdays,
Wednesdays and Thursday, 7 to 9 Thursday Evenings and 1 to 4 the first and
second Sundays of each month. Visit http://www.oceanmuseum.org for more information.