the summer of 1960, a new restaurant debuted on what was then the beachfront in
Wildwood Crest. Known as the "Surfside", its unusual space-age architecture
- including a pinwheel-shaped roof with jutting angles and large glass panes all
around - became a love-it-or-hate-it-but-can't-miss-it curiosity for residents
and summer vacationers cruising down Ocean Avenue along a strip that was quickly
evolving into a showcase of colorful, flashy, modernistic architecture that captured
the optimistic, forward-looking spirit of the times.
The restaurant would
continue attracting curious eyes and serving hungry appetites until 2002, when
the Surfside's landlords wanted to demolish the restaurant to make way for a hotel
In stepped the DWPL who helped to raise the $20,000 necessary
to carefully disassemble the restaurant's steel superstructure and place it in
storage until a suitable site could be found to rebuild it.
In 2005, the
city of Wildwood agreed to play host and help finance the resurrection of the
Surfside as a museum dedicated to all things "Doo Wop" with a built-in
bandshell to house outdoor concerts and entertainment. The location would be a
perfect site across from the Wildwoods Convention Center in Fox Park - a site
kindly offered by Betty Fox of the Fox family for whom the park had previously
The new museum and bandshell were envisioned as a cultural
centerpiece for the island - a place where people can congregate, relax, be entertained,
and learn a little something about the resort's storied heyday in the 1950s and
With groundbreaking late in 2006, construction progresed quickly
on the museum as curious onlookers watched the former Surfside's still-futuristic
steel skeleton rise again at its new location. Finishing touches were put on the
structure and a collection of cool Doo Wop artifacts were quickly moved in to
fill the building's newly re-created interior spaces, just in time for a grand
opening celebration during the Wildwoods' "Salute the '60s" weekend
in April 2007.
The museum remains a work in progress, with much more to
come in the way of interior exhibits and artifacts. Outside, a "neon garden"
is taking shape that will exhibit restored neon signs that were rescued from old
Wildwood landmarks whose fate was a date with the wrecking ball. When completed,
the entire complex will glow with as much exuberance and optimism as the original
Surfside Restaurant was intended to exude in its day... only this time, it's signaling
in a whole new era of appreciation for Doo Wop in the Wildwoods!