The Great Auditorium – Ocean Grove, New Jersey - Atlas Obscura

The Great Auditorium

Ocean Grove, New Jersey

A wooden theatre that remains the heart of a charming Victorian-era New Jersey enclave. 

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Ocean Grove exudes Victorian charm, which is not surprising considering it was founded in 1869 as a Methodist summer camp meeting site created by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. 

At the center of Ocean Grove sits a wooden architectural marvel, the Great Auditorium. This theater, which houses exceptional acoustics, could originally seat 10,000 but now only allows for just over 6,000. A statue of the Reverend Ellwood H. Stokes, who helped found Ocean Grove, sits out front.

The massive auditorium was completed in 1894 and has remained virtually unchanged since its construction. It still features its original lighting system that was very modern for the times. Many worshippers began spending their summers in Ocean Grove as part of the religious retreat, now the longest active camp meeting site in the United States. 

Over the decades, the Great Auditorium has welcomed preachers such as Booker T. Washington and Billy Graham. Along with speakers the likes of William Jennings Bryan, as well as a cavalcade of other entertainers. The Great Auditorium also boasts one of the largest pipe organs in the world and is surrounded by more than 100 tents that are erected every summer for seasonal renters. 

Know Before You Go

The Great Auditorium also hosts a number of concerts and performances throughout the year, check the box office for details.