Places

Historic Places on Springwood Avenue (Asbury Park, NJ)
c. 1940 – 1970
(click to enlarge)
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.

Capitol Tavern

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.”

Carver Hotel

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.”

Cosmic Birth

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.”

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 Johson: “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.”

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.”

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).

Hammory’s Billiards

1145 Springwood Avenue.

House of Hits Records

1006 Springwood Avenue.

Joe Carter’s Photography Studio

1207 Springwood Avenue.

Kershaw’s BBQ

Adams Street, between Avenue A and Atkins Avenue.

Knuckles Electric

1043 Springwood Avenue.


Lyric Hall and Garden

126 Atkins Avenue.

Madonna’s Bar

811 Lake Avenue.

Metropolitan Hotel

1201 Springwood Avenue.

Nahan’s Shoes

1000 Springwood Avenue.

Nellie Tutt’s Restaurant and Boarding House

1207 Springwood Avenue.

New Deal Cafe

929 Springwood Avenue.

Orchid Lounge

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.”

Palace Bar

1100 Springwood Avenue.

Saturn Lounge

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.”

State Ballroom

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.”

Turf Club (“Leo’s Turf Club”, later “Wakie’s Turf Club”)

1200 Springwood Avenue. First opened c. 1955; closed c. 1973). Many local acts performed here, including Al Griffin’s combo, the Gents of Jazz. Other performers to appear here include Lionel Hampton and Illinois Jacquet. In 1970, the Turf Club closed, and it re-opened later that year as “Wakey’s.” Memory from Cliff Johnson: “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.”

Two-Door Tavern

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.”

West Side Drug Store

1201 Springwood Avenue. Closed July 1970. Cliff Johnson worked here.