Before beach erosion and human development changed the face of Long Beach Island forever, the northern end of the island from the Barnegat Inlet to the Great Swamp (Surf City) was covered with a cedar wood. Early inhabitants of the area harvested salt hay and seaweed to make a living. The name Harvey Cedars was derived from the combination of harvest quarters used by these farmers and the cedars that grew in the area. Incorporated in 1894, the area established its government and retained its independent status after the founding of Long Beach Township in 1899.
At one time, the area above Sussex Avenue (71st Street) had been called High Point, named by Mr. Isaac Lee, who built the first house in the area (His home still stands on what is now Lee Avenue). High Point was made part of Harvey Cedars in the 1930’s, which extended the community to 87th Street.
Samuel Perrinepurchased the home of Sylvanus Cox in 1841. Cox had built his house along the bay on a mound of land that protruded through the water. This hummock was several acres wide, and a creek separated it from the island. Perrine made many improvements to the structure and expanded it for use as a boarding house. His Connahassett House soon became well-known and was eventually known as the Harvey Cedars Hotel. The mid-1800’s was a prosperous time for the hotel.
Because of his experience at sea and his ability to lead, Perrine was placed in charge of the Government House constructed at Harvey Cedars in 1847. When the U.S. Life Saving Service was established in 1871, the government house was sold and towed down to Beach Haven to be rechristened the Hotel DeCrab. A new structure was constructed for the Service, and Perrine continued as Captain of the Harvey Cedars Life Saving Station until his death in 1881. The building still stands at Long Beach Blvd. and Cape May Avenue and is the home of the Long Beach Island Fishing Club.
The Northern communites of Long Beach Island became less popular after the turn of the century. Both Harvey Cedars and Barnegat City suffered. The railroad did not stop there as often, and even after the automobile causeway was constructed in 1914, the roads from North Beach on up were nothing more than muddy paths.
The Harvey Cedars Hotel was sold and resold until it was purchased by the Philadelpiha YWCA in 1921 and became a women’s vacation resort called Camp Whelen. The camp did well until 1935, when it finally had to submit the Great Depression. The Hotel lay dormant until 1941, when it was sold to Jack Murray and Bill Ritchie and converted into the Harvey Cedars Bible Conference. The building is still stands today, the only existing survivor of the Grand Hotel Era.