After decades of memories, closed Jersey Shore bar moves to new location down the street
Chances are if you come across someone who has spent a lot of time in Wildwood, they will have a Shamrock story.
Located on the ground floor of a 1900s Victorian house, the popular orange and green painted bar and restaurant was the place for local music and old-fashioned beer prices.
“Everyone has a fond memory,” said Tom Gerace, owner of Shamrock, who bought the bar in 2016. He recalls that in 1979, when he frequented the bar after high school, beers cost five for a dollar.
On Wednesday morning, those keepsakes were retrieved and moved, as the house began its journey to its new location, about 200 feet away on East Lincoln Avenue.
There will be no more Shamrock, but the historic building will live on – it will now be Gerace’s residence – offering passers-by the chance to reminisce about the good and bad times the bar had to offer.
“A guy told me they used his head to open the door,” laughed Gerace.
He said he had decided to permanently close the bar and sell the property, which also included Castaways Pirate Bar and Club Amnesia, after it closed in May last year for breaching state restrictions on coronaviruses in November 2020 and March 2021, including social distancing. rules and a 10 p.m. curfew on indoor dining services.
Gerace said he could have reopened after that, but decided it was time to stop. He didn’t want to be under the same microscope as before.
“I’m getting to a point in my life where I just don’t need the aggravation.”
Gerace, who is a lover of old houses, said the new owner would have demolished the building, so he decided to move it and keep it as a summer residence.
For the past five years, Gerace has lived upstairs after converting the original 18 boarding rooms, which resembled sleeping in closets, into a nine-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home with three living rooms with the original double staircases.
According to Taylor Henry, president of the Wildwood Historical Society, the house was built around 1900 as the Berwind Hotel and was an example of Queen Anne resort architecture similar to Cape May styles.
In its original location, the one-of-a-kind, cross-gabled house had floor-to-ceiling north-facing windows and an ocean-facing turret.
She said that Queen Anne’s architecture is always different and that “if someone is torn down, they are gone forever. There is nothing like it anywhere else. »
In 1924, the hotel was sold and a Senekoff & Fils grocery store opened on the ground floor while the upper floors were still used as accommodation.
In 1937, Irish immigrant Cornelius Ward bought the hotel, lived upstairs, and established the Shamrock Cafe. The Shamrock was actually a bar but it was called a cafe back then because it was Prohibition era, Henry explained.
During the 1970s the bar became a popular spot for local bands and became a starting point for many local musicians.
Henry described the Shamrock as having a laid-back, old-fashioned atmosphere where people went to have their first drink, make new friends, and get engaged. Although these memories and stories of the Shamrock are not historically significant, they are sentimentally important to people and will live on like the Victorian home.
“That’s what preservation is for. Not just preserving the architecture, but preserving the places that matter to people,” she said.
Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron, who frequented the Shamrock in the 70s and 80s, was happy Gerace saved the structure, but is disappointed the bar is closed.
“If I had the choice, I would prefer to see the original Shamrock still in its original place and open for business.”
Byron said the bar was one of those iconic places where it’s not uncommon to see someone wearing a green Shamrock shirt anywhere in the country.
For now, Gerace said he would relax and consider his next move and did not rule out opening another bar in the near future.
“My former employees are already asking me to open something else.”
For people longing for those wild days of Shamrock, they won’t have to walk far from the original location to stir up memories. Gerace said he could incorporate into the front of his house a steel beam that was in the building with “Welcome to Shamrock” written on it.
They can also visit the historical society where part of the bar and the brass rail were donated.
For now, and to the disappointment of some, the only bar business for Gerace will be for friends and family once his house is complete.
“The only bar they’ll see if they drink in my garage.”
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Tim Hawk can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Tim on Instagram @photog_hawk.