Dennis Township Old School House Museum & History Center
Belleplain, Clermont, Dennisville, South Dennis, North West Dennis, Eldora, South Seaville, Ocean View
South Dennis Railroad Crossing DT Museum Logo South Dennis Railroad Station

Dennis Township Old School House Museum & History Center
Accent image Village of South Dennis Page 1 Accent image

accent image  Village Boundaries  accent image

There are no specific set boundary lines for any of the eight villages of Dennis Township!

accent image  Village of South Dennis Page 1  accent image

Please realize that it will take a lot of time and volunteer effort to fill out the history of each of the eight villages of Dennis Township. As we gather written and photographic data for each village we will post it to the individual village web page. If anyone can contribute to this effort with historic information please contact us so we can preserve it.

Dennis Creek in years past the creek was spanned by a covered bridge. The Dennis Creek Landing was the Port of the area with a number of wharves, stores and most importantly three very productive and prosperous ship yards from which many ships were built, launched and towed out the Dennis Creek to the Delaware Bay and on to either Philadelphia or Delaware for outfitting of their sails. The Dennis Township School House Museum contains a number of displays of some of these early vessels as well as a list of the ships built and the names of the hearty souls who were the Sea Captains from the surrounding villages of the Township.

accent image  Dennis Creek Landing Ship Building  accent image

In the second half of the 19th century; the Dennis Creek Landing shipyards are estimated to have built upwards of 50 vessels.

Ultimately, shipbuilding at the landing fell victim to competition from larger urban shipyards, the transition from sail to steam, and the use of iron and steel in place of wood. The gristmill closed down sometime in the early 1890s, around the same time that the Sea Coast Railroad Company constructed a rail line through North and South Dennisville, bypassing Dennis Creek Landing. Before long, the causeway was largely reduced to its original primary function, that of providing a crossing over the creek and tidal marsh. By the late 1920s, when the bridge over the creek was replaced for the fourth time, the landing and its related industrial and commercial facilities had all but vanished from the landscape, leaving behind a line of abandoned wharves for sporadic usage by local fishermen and recreational boaters.

Dennis Creek Landing

Dennis Creek Landing
Dennis Creek Landing about 1915

Dennis Creek Landing about 1915. The wooden bridge over Dennis Creek, at right, was built in 1885 and replaced in 1908. (Source: George W. Brewer Jr.)

The pony truss bridge over Dennis Creek Landing about 1925. This bridge was built in 1908 and replaced in 1928. (Source: George W. Brewer Jr.)

In the second half of the 19th century; the Dennis Creek Landing shipyards are estimated to have built upwards of 50 vessels.

Dennis Creek Landing 1925
Dennis Creek Landing 1925

accent image  Ship Building at Dennis Creek Landing  accent image

Some consider Dennis Creek Landing a part of the village of Dennisville and some say it is a part of South Dennis, so all the ship building information will be listed under the "Museum Collections Menu" - Ship Building at Dennis Creek Landing.

Architecturally, research revealed that throughout the 18th century and into the first decades of the 19th century, the site present-day South Dennisville (the fast ground south of where the causeway would cross the creek) was largely the private domain of the Ludlam family. With the construction of new causeways and bridges over the north and south branches of Dennis Creek after 1789, and the re-routing of the stage route through South Dennisville about 1800, the complexion of the local economy (and with it, the cultural landscape) changed dramatically. James J. Ludlam erected a blacksmith shop and tavern to take advantage of the new highway traffic, and new houses began sprouting up around the intersection of the main Bayshore Road and County Road and along both sides of the Bayshore Road, southward towards Goshen. By the 1870 the main proponents of Dennisville's maritime and commercial interests had made South Dennisville their principal place of residence. The owners of the three shipyards, J.H. Ludlam, R.S. Leaming and L. Edwards, all occupied houses on the Bayshore Road to the south of the creek. Maps of the time show buildings lining both Route 47/Delsea Drive/Bayshore Road and County Road, many of them labeled with the names of ships' captains and families involved in the shipbuilding industry.

accent image  South Dennis Union Cemetery  accent image

Here stands the Monument and Grave site of John Grace, hero of the Revolutionary War. John was described by General George Washington as "His trusted scout, that the British could not buy". The monument was dedicated by the school children of the county. "Museum Collections Menu" - Union Cemetery.

accent image  Union Church currently South Dennis Methodist  accent image

On the corner of the Union Cemetery and School House Lane, once stood a Meeting House originally owned by the Ludlam Family and referred to in early writings as the "Dennis Creek Landing Chapel" and later as "Union Church". This small structure provided early education and a Sunday School which was organized by Methodists and filled many other community needs. Before changing its name to the Union Church it provided services for those of both confederate and northern views prior to the Civil War. It was the first church to permit the use of its building by other denominations. "Museum Collections Menu" - Historic Churches.

Today South Dennis is notable for its surviving body of 19th-century and early 20th-century architecture. Since it was home to families who had prospered as a result of the developments at Dennis Creek Landing, the buildings are evocative of South Dennisville's significant historical associations with the regional shipbuilding and cedar harvesting industries, coastal trade, and the economic and political development of Cape May County during the 19th century.

Abraham Eisenberg 1895-1976 AJ Meerwald Marriage Certificate AJ Meerwald Baptist Church
Beaver Dam Hunting Club 1922 Beaver Dam Hunting Club ticket and membership list Charles Nickerson Home Christopher Ludlam House
Clint Nickerson Delsea Inn Delsea Inn Delsea Inn