Bayshore Center at Bivalve


2800 High Street
Port Norris, NJ 08349
County: Cumberland


Mr. Brian Kennan
Executive Director

Grant Amount


Program Area


Grant Details

Rapid response grant.

Organization Background

Located in New Jersey?s poorest county (Cumberland) and one of its most distressed municipalities (Commercial Township), the Bayshore Center at Bivalve builds upon the historic assets of this once prosperous region ? using history to inspire hope for the future. Established in 1988, BCB has grown from a small group of conservationists who took on the task of restoring a dilapidated oyster schooner to a multi-faceted institution with over 5,000 patrons annually working statewide. The organization has undergone name changes since its founding to reflect the growth of the organization from Schooner CLYDE A. PHILLIPS Foundation to Delaware Bay Schooner Project to Bayshore Discovery Project to now Bayshore Center at Bivalve. Shipboard Programs - In 1988, Meghan Wren, BCB?s founder and former Executive Director, envisioned the decrepit A.J. MEERWALD as a sailing classroom, and an effort was launched to authentically restore the 1928 schooner. Funds were raised through a variety of community-based fundraising activities, and the restoration project was galvanized by major grants totaling $690,000 from the NJ Historic Trust in 1991 and the NJ Dept of Transportation in 1993. Upon her completion in 1996, BCB was recipient of NJ Preservation Office?s Excellence in Historic Preservation Award. Today, the MEERWALD is listed on the National and NJ Registers of Historic Places and, since 1998, the MEERWALD has had the honor of being NJ?s official Tall Ship. The MEERWALD is certified by the US Coast Guard, fully insured, and staffed by professional crewmembers and educators. Trained volunteers help carry out the schooner?s programs. Facility- The restoration of the 1904 Bivalve Shipping Sheds & Wharves - a National Register property and heritage tourism destination consists of the Delaware Bay Museum & Folklife Center, Bayshore Gallery, Oyster Cracker Cafe and resource center for education about the area?s maritime history and ecological significance, was completed in September 2011. Major grantors to the nearly $5 million project have included the Cumberland Empowerment Zone, the Delaware River and Bay Authority, the Cumberland County Improvement Authority, NJ Department of Transportation and NJ Historic Trust. Thousands of volunteered hours, in-kind services, donated materials and business sponsors including a multiyear commitment by the Port Norris Rotary have also contributed to the restoration. The Delaware Bay Museum is the anchor of BCB?s shore based activities at the Bivalve facility. It started in 1991, with the exhibit Maritime Traditions of Delaware Bay funded by the NJHC when the museum was located in an old storefront in Port Norris. The Museum moved to the Shipping Sheds in 2001 and was later placed in storage during the Shipping Sheds restoration. Currently, the Museum interprets the 1904 Oyster Shipping Sheds & Wharves and the Bay?s maritime traditions - shipbuilding, oystering, commercial fishing, and recreational uses- and is also designated as a site on NPS?s NJ Coastal Heritage Trail. In 2011, the Interpretive Plan was completed, which drives all exhibit and programs (funded by NJHT). This same project also generated an orientation film and exterior interpretive signage that focuses on BCB?s historical resources. The same year, two exhibits were mounted including Bringing Bivalve to Life (NJHC funded) and The Abundant Oyster? (NJCH funded). In 2013, phase II of Brining Bivalve to Life (NJHC funded) was installed, collection storage was moved and PastPerfect online was implemented. A new core exhibit, Play on the Bayshore (NJCH funded), is being developed along with an exhibit featuring the dredgeboat CASHIER. Community Programming- Starting in 2019 BCB began providing community based programming state wide by partnering with history and environmental organization the AJ Meerwald docks in. BCB will continue this work in 2020 in Atlantic Highlands/Raritian Bay, Atlantic City/Atlantic Ocean and Burlington NJ/Delaware River. Our community programs focus on local environmental concerns and education along with history and the arts.

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