St. Leonard’s Tract is an historic jewel. Amazingly, in the nine decade sInce the Tract was established, the unique architecture and feel remain largely untouched. Its community spirit and pride are untarnished.
The earliest homes in St. Leonard’s Tract were buillt around 1906 as part of “The Ventnor Plan”. Many were built in the 1920’s by Atlantic City hotel operator Emmanuel Katz. Mr. Katz was an entrepreneur with a colorful history. During prohibition he was called the “Jersey Rum Runner” and went to jail in 1921, being the owner of 152 cases of Scotch whisky, believed to have been part of the British auxiliary schooner, Pocomoke. (New York Times, published July 30, 1921)
We are fortunate that many of the original homes can till be seen today.
This Spanish Colonial masterpiece on the corner of Atlantic and Dorset Avenues shares a rich history with the pioneers of the Jersey Shore. Designed by Vivian Smith, who designed the Ocean City Music Pier, The Flanders Hotel, the Ocean City and Ventnor City Halls. It has a grand foyer with a magnificent oak staircase inlaid with Italian marble, a green barrel tiled roof, a gas fireplace with Italian marble baseboard and porcelain logs imported from Belgium.
Charles Lindbergh stayed at this home on the corner of Ventnor and Derby Avenues following a story about the possible whereabouts of his kidnapped son near Atlantic City, which unfortunately turned out to be a false lead.
This lovely Queen Anne style home is located at Atlantic and Oxford Avenues. Its style is similar to the home owned by Rodman Wanamaker, son of John Wanamaker, Philadelphia department store mogul, which was located in the Wanamaker tract. The Wanamaker tract consisted of ten lots on Atlantic from Dudley to Dorset Avenues.
In 1964 this elegant white French Provincial home at the corner of Cornwall and Atlantic Avenues entertained President Lyndon B. Johnson and Vice President-elect, Hubert Humphrey during the Democratic Convention which was held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Perle Mesta, a well known socialite and United States Ambassador to Luxembourg hosted the party. She was renown for her lavish parties featuring the brightest stars of Washington, D.C., society, including artists, entertainers and many top-level national political figures. She was a personal friend of Rose Kennedy. Many high profile Democrats attended the convention in Atlantic City.
17 S. Derby was built by a sea captain named John Palmer. He married the great-granddaughter of Francis Scott Key, who penned the Star Spangled Banner. The rear yard of the house still has the original carriage house, dated 1888, with horse stalls. Inside still contains the original hay and oat bins and salt blocks. The current house on this property was built in 1912. Anna Key Palmer died in this home when she was 93. No ghost sightings to date.
This beachfront home was built in 1910. Irving Berlin, one of America’s most prolific composers entertained friends by playing a baby grand in the living room. Irving Berlin composed 1,500 songs including “God Bless America”. More recently, actors Joe Piscopo and Danny Devito filmed “Wise Guys” here.
11 N. Derby, known as “Derby Hall”, was built in 1907 and hosted the Ventnor Motor Boat Club as their clubhouse where racing boats built in Ventnor would compete on Inside Thorofare. This was a popular event that attracted racing enthusiasts from as far away as Ocean City and Cape May. During prohibition, the house also served a rumrunner drop and the secret entrance for rum smuggling still exists. The house remains an exquisite example of St. Leonard’s Tract’s past and is often the venue for charity and social events.
The longest continuous member of St. Leonard’s is Maxine Stonehill, whose home was built in 1906. It is located on the corner of Winchester and Dorset Avenues.
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Governor Walter Edge had a home at Oxford and the Beach, which was rented to Irving Berlin at the time of the Lindbergh kidnapping because Irving Berlin felt his daughters would be safer in the Atlantic City area.
Former Florida U.S. Senator George Smathers, the close friend of the late President John F. Kennedy, grew up in a home here.
Former Governor Walter E. Edge also made his home at Oxford Avenue and the beach.
St. Leonard’s Tract has the home of famed Atlantic City “500 Club” owner Paul “Skinny” D’Amato. This was the playhouse for Skinny and the “Rat Pack” of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop during the heyday of the 500 Club era. Features the autographed cement walkway of 30 top entertainers from the time.