Covering a 64 square mile area that stretches inland from the coast just behind Sea Isle
City, Dennis Township was incorporated in 1827. The area is decidedly rural with about
6,400 residents and has been ranked by New Jersey Monthly magazine as one of the
best places to live in the state. Communities that fall within the township’s boundaries
include Dennisville, Belleplain, Clermont, Ocean View, Eldora, and South Seaville. The
township itself has no frontage on the Atlantic, the creation of Sea Isle City in 1882 having
taken its coastline away but is still convenient to top beach areas along the Jersey Shore.
The beaches of Sea Isle City are about 10 miles away from the center of the township
and the many attractions offered by The Wildwoods resort are a half hour or less from just
about anywhere in the township.
Residents of the area work in a mix of both blue collar and white collar jobs and average
about the same income and cost of living as other residents of the state. An area with a
history as old as the nation itself, Dennis Township and its communities along Dennis
Creek were well known for shipbuilding in the1800s. Cedar mining was another important
industry in the area and one that supplemented the shipbuilding industry. Cedar mining
involved reclaiming white cedar trees long submersed in the Great Cedar Swamp for use
as shingles and to build homes and ships. Those trees were particularly popular because
their long submersion in water had actually made them fairly impervious to water once
they were salvaged and dried. The area’s rich history is preserved in the Dennisville
Historic District that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The well
preserved village features a variety of 1 and 2story frame structures with the oldest
dating back to 1691. For many years, the township was a primary source of wood for
heating the home of Philadelphia and New York. Lumber harvested from the region’s
forests and from cedar mining was shipped throughout the mid-Atlantic for building and
other purposes. In 1848, Dennis Township was almost selected as the county seat for
Cape May County but lost out to the town of Cape May Court House by 89 votes.
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