Surfside Restaurant (drawing), circa 1960s


Surfside Restaurant (inside), circa 1960s


Rendering of new museum & sign garden


Rendering of new museum & sign garden


Construction of the new museum


Construction of the new museum



Grand Opening in April 2007

 

In 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 expansion.

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 been dedicated.

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 1960s.

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!