Here are a few of the most important places on Springwood Avenue. Many of these places are no longer standing, as the neighborhood has changed dramatically over the past century.
Explore AP-AMP’s interactive Digital Museum for maps, photos, and more about the places of Springwood Avenue.
|Almyra Tea Room||Madonna’s Bar|
|Alpha’s Liquor Store||Metropolitan Hotel|
|Big Bill’s Lounge||Nahan’s Shoes|
|Bunce & Carter Drugstore||Nellie Tutt’s|
|Capitol Tavern||New Deal Cafe|
|Carver Hotel||Orchid Lounge|
|Cosmic Birth||Palace Bar|
|Cuba’s Spanish Tavern||Reindeer Rest|
|Elks Lodge (“Big Elks”)||Saturn Lounge|
|Elks Lodge (“Little Elks”)||Savoy Bar|
|Fisch’s Department Store||Scott’s Music Store|
|Griffin’s Tailor Shop||St. Stephen AME Zion Church|
|Hammory’s Billiards||State Ballroom|
|House of Hits Records||Turf Club|
|Joe Carter’s Photography Studio||Two-Door Tavern|
|Kershaw’s BBQ||West Side Community Center|
|Knuckles Electric||West Side Drug Store|
|Lyric Hall and Garden|
Almyra Tea Room
1022 Mattison Avenue. Owned by the Parreott family.
Alpha’s Liquor Store
1515 Springwood Avenue.
Big Bill’s Lounge
1718 Springwood Avenue. Owners: Andy and Bill Sanders. Big Bill’s opened in the early 1960s, and was converted from a former Hampton Inn. The house band was Sam Pugh’s trio. Memory of Big Bill’s from Cliff Johnson: “I was fortunate enough to play at [Bill’s] grand opening. That was a good gig. We stayed and played there about four or five weeks. What a time when they opened up, because everybody loved Big Bill and his brother. From that point on, all the way down to Main Street, music was everywhere.”
Bunce & Carter Drugstore
1045 Springwood Avenue.
1210 Springwood Avenue. This was the location of local drummer Al Griffin’s first gig. Memory from Dorian Parreott: “When we played there, we played on weekends. People used to come in on buses, lots of buses coming in. They would feed them, then they would sit there and dance, and eat, and talk. Boswell was the keyboard player at that time. …Sometimes people would come [sit] in. Count Basie’s trombone players used to come and sit in with us. It was an exciting time. What happens a lot of times, when musicians from the other venues [on Springwood] took a break, they would come in and sit in with others, and play for a few minutes, and then go back to their jobs. We would do the same going back and forth.” (Interview with AP-AMP)
312 Myrtle Avenue. The original Carver Hotel was built early 1900s. Owner: Helen Johnson. The basement bar hosted many musical acts. People who stayed at the hotel include Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, Sammy Pugh, Cab Calloway, Joe Lewis. Memory by Cliff Johnson: “Downstairs [at the Carver Hotel], they had a bar, kind of like a cocktail lounge downstairs. We played jazz down there. We played jazz right on the corner, where the liquor store is, on the corner of Myrtle and Springwood.” (Interview with AP-AMP)
811 Main Street.
Cuba’s Spanish Tavern & Night Club
1147 Springwood Avenue. Owner Henry Lopez (Puerto Rican native). Opened in 1934. Together with his wife, Minnie, they also owned a candy/newspaper store (also called Cuba’s) located about four doors down from the night club. Performers include Billie Holiday, Ike and Tina Turner, Little Richard, and the Four Tops. Memory from Cliff Johnson: ” I can remember being still in my teens and we were playing in Cuba’s. In Cuba’s, they
had a bar in the front, and a nightclub in the back. They had Broadway-type shows back there, they had two or three showgirls, they would have a comedian, they would have a tap dancers, and all sorts of entertainment – the kinds of things you would see if you went up to New York. I was fortunate enough, when I was still a teenager, to play there in the back of Cuba’s. Many of our parents – because we were all teenagers, the guys in the band – our parents came to see us perform there. And not only our parents, but back in those days, people who wanted to hear jazz music, people who wanted to have a good time and go to a nightclub, they came from the east side of Asbury Park – with their furs, pulling up with their limousines, big time. Going to the back of Cuba’s. And there was no racial incidents whatsoever. Everyone just melded together.” (Interview with AP-AMP)
Elk’s Lodge (“Big Elks”)
Atkins Avenue and Adams Street. The Elks hosted many large parades down Springwood Avenue. Dolores Holland (organ) was a member of the Elk’s house band c. 1963-1970. Memory from Cliff JohNson: “They had a bar downstairs, and quite often on the weekends, they had music. I played there with Dolores, and a drummer by the name of Willie Sparks. He was in the Army Band out at Fort Monmouth, and he was our drummer there. We played for various affairs there — dances, fashion shows, and things of that nature.” (Interview with AP-AMP)
Elk’s Lodge (“Little Elks”)
1613 Springwood Avenue. Memory from Dorian Parreott: “We had a [teacher named] Mr. Richardson who was a one-armed conductor; he lived in Neptune. Mr. Richardson used to teach us the marches and all the classical music. We would go up the Little Elk’s and practice with the trumpets and trombones and tubas. I really got my eyes open when Mr. Smalls died, and we played his funeral, marching up and down Springwood Avenue, [playing] “When the Saints Go Marching In,” New Orleans style… ‘Whoa, this is something else!’ We followed the casket going down Springwood Avenue. That was one of the experiences that I’ll never forget.” (Interview with AP-AMP)
Fisch’s Department Store
1025 Springwood Avenue.
Griffin’s Tailor Shop
1310 Springwood Avenue. Birthplace, home, and family business of local musician Al Griffin (drummer).
1145 Springwood Avenue.
House of Hits Records
1006 Springwood Avenue.
Joe Carter’s Photography Studio
1207 Springwood Avenue.
Adams Street, between Avenue A and Atkins Avenue.
1043 Springwood Avenue.
Lyric Hall and Garden
126 Atkins Avenue.
811 Lake Avenue.
1201 Springwood Avenue.
1000 Springwood Avenue.
Nellie Tutt’s Restaurant and Boarding House
1207 Springwood Avenue.
New Deal Cafe
929 Springwood Avenue.
906 Springwood Avenue. Owner: Odyssey Moore, later Duval Moore. Opened 1965. Memory from Duval Moore: “Purple and black. Oh, you’re talking about pretty! That was a pretty club. That was a nice club. I’ve been in a lot of them – Big Bill’s had a nice club also, down the street; the Turf Club. But, I thought the Orchid was – I might be a little prejudiced on this – but I thought the Orchid Lounge has the real “look.” It was clean – he made me clean it, but he kept it right. He did it up real good when he did it. The chairs were nice, the barstools… We added on later in the years, to put [in] a lounge. It was [like] a horseshoe, with the band’s stage up front.”
1100 Springwood Avenue.
162 Main Street.
Savoy Bar and Grill
1108 Springwood Avenue. Local saxophonist Cliff Johnson often played here. Memory from Cliff Johnson: “The Savoy Bar and Grill, which was just before you get to Sylvan Avenue, they had the bar in the front – pretty much like Cuba’s – and they had a very large showroom in the back. They had shows back there.”
Scott’s Music Store
410 Main Street. Memory from Dorian Parreott: “Scott’s Music was where I purchased my [first C-melody saxophone]. I used to work for them. They used to have a bench in the back, and I worked the instruments. I said, ‘You know what, I’m giving this guy all the money, and I’m only getting five dollars an hour. I don’t think this is right.’ You know? Come on! So I used to start taking them home, bringing them back, charging them my fee, and then he’d charge them more. That’s how I got started after I went to [instrument repair] school. I did that for a few years, and I bought a lot of his stuff when they went out of business. So, that’s what I basically do. I try to keep that same image that we had years ago.”
St. Stephen A.M.E. Zion Church
126 Union Avenue (current location: 1001 Springwood Avenue. Memory from Dorian Parreott: “A lot of the music really came from the church. I started as a youngster singing in the children’s choir, then the advanced choir, at St. Stephen’s A.M.E. Zion Church, which was on Union Avenue, then we moved it to Springwood Avenue, where it’s located today. I was always a part of all of that activity at that particular time.” Memory from Cliff Johnson: “I grew up in the St. Stephen A.M.E. Zion Church; my grandfather was a pastor there when I was very little. My mother came over to St. Stephen [and] took over what you call the Junior Choir, which, my brother and I were a part. She played there, at St. Stephen [for] five or six years, but I was singing all the time. I was just around music all the time.”
1140 Springwood Avenue. Before this was a music venue, it was a movie theater. Closed by 1954. Count Basie played here in the 1940s; other performers include Dizzie Gillespie’s Orchestra, Savoy Sultans, Andy Kirk and the Clouds of Joy. Memory from Cliff Johnson: “Benny Bryant and I joined a big band out of New Brunswick. The bandleader was named Don Linton. He was well-known throughout the state. It was about a 13-piece band; it was a full orchestra. I remember coming back with the Don Linton Orchestra and playing at the State Ballroom. What a thrill that was. We were up there, and they’d come to the bandstand and they’re looking up at us, and we felt like, ‘Oh boy, look at us! We’re big time!’ To come back home, in a big band, well-known throughout New Jersey, was quite a thrill for Benny and I.” (Interview with AP-AMP)
Turf Club (“Leo’s Turf Club”, later “Wakie’s Turf Club”)
1200 Springwood Avenue.
The last surviving structure that was once a music venue on Springwood Avenue.
The Turf Club originally opened at 1125 Springwood Avenue by Robert and Caroll Brown, most likely in 1940. Later that year, ownership was transferred to John Moore, who continued to operate the Turf Club until 1947. In 1948, after a lengthy series of hearings, ownership of The Turf Club was transferred to Leo Karp and Sol Konvitz, who continued to operate the club at 1125 Springwood Avenue until 1955. There is no evidence of music being performed here during this time.
In December 1955, Leo Karp published his construction plans for the new Turf Club building, which would be located across the street at 1200 Springwood Avenue. He planned to tear down the dilapidated Victory Hotel which was currently on the site. In April 1956, Karp reported that construction had begun on the site, and that he plans a “a modern, one-story fireproof brick building on the site, which has a 62-foot frontage on Springwood Avenue, and 50 feet on Atkins Avenue” (Asbury Park Press, April 1, 1956).
On June 30, 1956, the new Leo’s Turf Club at 1200 Springwood Avenue opened, where the building remains today. Music became a mainstay of the Turf Club beginning in 1959 and particularly the 1960s, offering local and national jazz, blues, and R&B acts. Many local musicians have performed here, including Al Griffin and the Gents of Jazz, Cliff Johnson and the Squires of Rhythm, and keyboardist Dee Holland. Nationally-recognized performers such as saxophonist Clarence Clemons (who would later join Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band), jazz saxophonist Illinois Jacquet (known for his work with Lionel Hampton), organist Jimmy McGriff, and countless others performed at the Turf Club during this era.
On January 14, 1970, the club was renamed Wakie’s Show Place, and ownership was transferred to Waylon Goldston, a local African-American businessman. Wakie’s grand opening was April 2, 1970, and featured Irene Reid, a vocalist who performed with Count Basie. In the uprising of July 1970, many west side businesses were burned and never reopened. But, Wakie’s Show Place survived and continued to book musical acts. There were many performances advertised at Wakie’s between 1970-1972, including JT Bowen and The Chosen Few.
In 1972, the bar was once again renamed, this time to “Turf Melody Lounge,” branded as “the Heart of the Avenue.” It had new owners, but many of the same musical acts. It continued to operate throughout the 1970s, but there is no evidence of music performed there after 1973. By 1979, the Turf Melody Lounge was no longer the brilliant club it once was. Since then, it has changed owners and names several times, becoming “Mae’s Melody Lounge” in 1988 and “Sports Turf Club” in 1990. The Turf shut its doors for good in 2000, and has remained vacant ever since.
Memories of the Turf Club
“I could sit on my step and hear music from the Turf Club… what a time! … I played at the Turf Club; I want to tell you this story. At the Turf Club, they had a bar, and so many of these bars, they had the bandstand in the middle of the bar. So people are sitting around you, and boy, you’re really in the spotlight… the bandstand was raised. On the Atkins Avenue side of the Turf Club, there’s a window. I was playing at the Turf Club, I was living on Atkins Avenue. I was playing, and I kept seeing this head jumping up and down at this window. I said, ‘What is this?’ Every time I turned, I could see someone jumping up to see, because the window’s kind of high. It’s still there. It was my son! He had never really seen me performing in a club. He was just a kid, and it was him. That touches me so deeply, even now.”
– Cliff Johnson (Interview with AP-AMP, January 2018)
“My first night out of the service, and I went into the Turf Club… Our main place was the Turf. They had some great bands, good musicians came in there, from all over. That’s the one thing about Asbury too: they used to bring people in from all over the world.”
– JT Bowen (Interview with AP-AMP, May 2018)
“The Turf was my hangout.”
– Charlie Smith (Jazz Legends of Asbury Park panel discussion, 2007)
“There was the Turf Club. … They had jam sessions. … That’s how many musicians in Asbury Park learned how to jam..”
– Cliff Johnson (Jazz Legends of Asbury Park panel discussion, 2007)
“I went to the Turf Club. It’s called Leo’s Turf Club. They had all kinds of groups that come, the bands that come. It was just a nice night club. … Sammy Pugh! I used to go and see him at the Turf Club.”
– Rose Johnson (Interview with AP-AMP, May 2018)
INSIDE THE TURF CLUB
“I can describe the layout like the back of my hand. The Turf Club was a very unique club. … The front was on the corner of the building. When you walk in, you have to walk through the front door, and there’s a little vestibule there, [where] they would take your money if it cost to get in, or they would ask for your ID…
On the left side on Atkins Avenue, that’s where the door [was] that went into the package goods [store]. On the right side of the building on Springwood, that’s the door that musicians brought their equipment in, or if they wanted to get everybody out in a hurry, they would open that door as well…
When you walk in, you’re walking at the left-hand corner of the rectangle, if you’re facing the stage. The stage was elevated behind the bar. Right in front of where the stage was, that’s where they stack all the top-shelf liquor.
If you come into the door where the packaged goods are, if you go the opposite way down the bar, there’s steps that you can go to a platform where they had tables and chairs and a railing that came across, so that when you walked down the end of the bar, you’d walk by the tables and chairs. If you make a left at the end of the bar, there’s the men’s bathroom and then there’s the ladies’ bathroom, which the ladies’ bathroom had a partition that came out from the door and came across so when the ladies opened the door, you couldn’t look directly into the bathroom. …If you go down past the bathrooms, there was another door that you went through that went to where the supply area was. And you can also walk up the steps going to the stage.
There was a big disco ball… right in the middle of the bar. They had stage lights, professional lighting. It was a wonderful place to play. The bands could see you from the stage and from wherever you were in the Turf Club, you could see the bands. The way it was made, you can hear the music outside, but you couldn’t hear the outside noise. A fire engine could ride by while the band’s playing and you couldn’t hear them. It was a very unique place.
There’s a curtain… that’s in the back of the stage and there’s a wall behind the curtain. Behind that wall was a walkway that you can go from the package goods to the supply room. The curtain [was] a burnt, top burnt orange or a dark sienna with sequins. If you had a banner for your band, you can pin it up to the curtain. [When] the air conditioner was on, the curtain used to shimmer.”
– Al Holmes (Interview with AP-AMP, Sept. 2019)
1513 Springwood Avenue.
West Side Community Center
115 Dewitt Avenue. Opened November 2, 1922. Memory from Cliff Johnson: “They used to have, at the West Side Community Center, a Drum and Bugle Corps. My son was part of that.” Memory from Dorian Parreott: “The West Side Community Center was one of the catalyst places that youngsters learned to play in the band back then. We had the West Side Marching Band, and it came from the West Side Community Center. These guys used to play all over the place. They played all the Elks’ parades that went right down Springwood Avenue and Main Street.” (Interview with AP-AMP)
West Side Drug Store
1201 Springwood Avenue. Closed July 1970. Cliff Johnson worked here.