Thursday, March 26, 2009
Anchorage Phone Booth
The Anchorage was always listed in the phone book under the name Anchorage Hotel, and was therefore the first hotel on the list of Atlantic County hotels when casinos came to town.
The World Famous Anchorage Tavern (EST. c. 1888), is the oldest continuously operated business establishment in Somers Point. Built (circa 1874), it was first known as the Trenton Hotel and catered to seasonal visitors, mainly bird gunners who took on the hunting of birds as a sport. The sheer numbers and varities of the avian species produced the eggs that gave Great Egg Bay its name.
Known as the Anchorage Hotel since 1888, Victorian era spindles once lined the porch, and at the turn of the century the ballroom was built as an addition. For a time the hotel catered to New York and Philadelphia society, when men dressed in tuxedos and women wore long gowns to dinner and strolled on the porch to enjoy the summer breeze.
In August, 1905, as can be seen by the newspaper clipping on the wall, Daniel Reagan, the proprietor at the time, advertised "cheerful rooms," for $8 and $10 a week, with "fish, boating and bathing" being the main attractions.
On a Sunday in 1910 the pastor of St. Augustine's Church took the ferry from Ocean City to Somers Point, walked down Bay Avenue and served the first public mass on the bar of the ballroom of the Anchorage Hotel. Charles Collins was the owner of record at the time.
The Anchorage was not always a saintly haven however. Prohibition rum runners used the same small inlets and side creeks that were used by Colonial smugglers and Revolutionary militia. The rum runners found Great Egg Bay a friendly port, and the Anchorage a popular tavern. At times the Anchorage was known to sport slot machines and its patrons were known to enjoy games of chance.
For awhile the hotel tavern was owned by Judge Larry Brannigan, who was known as a local Judge Roy Bean and "the law east of Patcong Creek." Hannah Somers, a descendent of the town's founding family, was also a proprietor for many years. Her longtime bartender, John Coyle kept a parrot named Teddy, which picked up a atrocious vocabularly from the regulars at the bar.
After prohibition, the Anchorage was issued the fifth city license C-5. In 1938 the hotel was purchased by Lucille Cornaglia Thompson, who operated the bar until she sold it to her brother, Andrew "Henry" Cornaglia in 1945. The Three Keys, who once performed before the Queen of England, were the house band for many years when the Anchorage was known for its fine Italian pasta and sauces, shuffle board and juke box.
With the death of Mr. Cornaglia in 1965, his son Andrew assumed the business and he attracted a new, younger clientele who made it a tradition to stop at the Anchorage before patronizing Bay Shores, Tony Marts and the other Bay Avenue cabarets. The Anchorage became famous for serving seven draft beers for a dollar, and the 7 for 1 T-shirts are now collector's items.
William Morris and Dave Tyson acquired the Anchorage in 1993, restored the building and kept the nostalgia alive. The Anchorage continues to serve good food and drinks to a new generation of patrons as well as those who return to remember the good old days.
The Historic Anchorage Tavern, a Jersey Shore Tradition for over a century.