Any hope of truly preserving the classic Doo Wop feel of the Wildwoods, which is much of what first drew artists and working families to the island decades ago, is likely long gone, experts fear. preservation experts.
As recently as the turn of this century, listing the Wildwoods’ massive collection of 1950s and 1960s motels on New Jersey and the National Registers of Historic Places “seemed to be in the bag.”
But that effort quickly dissipated, and today there is no promise of the creation of a historic district as a means of maintaining what was once a collection of more than 300 mid-century motels along a six-mile stretch in Cape May County, according to Stephanie Hoagland.
Hoagland, who works with Jablonski Building Conservation, recently gave a presentation on Zoom about the rise and fall of Doo Wop in the Wildwoods, as part of a program presented by Preservation New Jersey.
“Today, approximately 100 Doo Wop motels remain in operation and have been renovated and upgraded”
The term “Doo Wop” refers to the unique space-age architectural styles that made North Wildwood, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest motels stand out from the rest.
Between 2001 and 2006, nearly 100 motels were demolished, Hoagland noted — motel owners couldn’t refuse offers made by developers, many of whom were interested in making space for condos. Doo Wop’s bones may remain in the Wildwoods, but the skin has been removed, she said.
“Today, approximately 100 Doo Wop motels are still in operation and have been renovated and upgraded,” Hoagland said.
Below is a sampling of photos shared by Hoagland, detailing the early motels that began a rush to build motels in the Wildwoods.
Early Wildwood Motels
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]
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