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Oscar Wilde In America

a selected resource of oscar wilde's visits to america

Freehold, NJ

The Decorative Arts* | Shinn's hall | Monday, May 8, 1882

* See Clarification below



Newspaper Report

Monmouth Democrat, (Weekly), May 11, 1882



Newspaper Article

Monmouth Democrat, (Weekly), April 27, 1882



Newspaper Article

Monmouth Democrat, (Weekly), May 4, 1882



Newspaper Advertisement

Monmouth Democrat, (Weekly), May 4, 1882


historical note

Shinn's Hall
107 Bennett Av., Freehold, NJ (now the midpoint of Lafayette Street at Court House Square)

Opened: before 1876 (George W. Shinn)
Seating: 1000
Aka: Shinn's Hall - Opera House and Skating Rink, c. 1885
Renamed: Freehold Opera House, c. 1892
Converted: for the National Guard of the State of New Jersey, c. 1911
Photograph: no contemporary image is known to exist of the Shinn's Hall. Above is detail from a c. 1911 photograph of the building after its conversion to an armory for the NGSNJ.
Subsequently demolished.


Sanborn Map Company, Freehold (Sheet 1), N.J. (1885)
Princeton University Library

With thanks to Joseph Hammond, Curator of Museum Collections, Monmouth County Historical Association



It can be inferred from a contemporary newspaper article that Wilde stayed overnight, as might be expected, in the remote town of Freehold:

Quite a crowd gathered at Matawan Station last Monday evening, and again on Tuesday morning, to see the "too utterly-utter" Oscar Wilde...
Matawan Journal, May 13, 1882, 2

However, no record has been found to verify at which hotel he stayed, although his choice was limited, probably to the American Hotel, or the Washington.


Main Street, Freehold, NJ, looking west from Court Street


As to lecture title

Advertised as The English Renaissance, (see opposite) but, owing to the smaller houses, Wilde had written to his manager, Col.W. F. Morse in early March to say:

"Kindly see that I am not advertised to lecture on 'The English Renaissance'. I have not delivered that lecture since February 11, and yet I am always advertised for it. It is very annoying, and besides, 'The English Renaissance' is printed in the Seaside, so people think they know it, and stay away. The lecture is on 'The Decorative Arts'..." [1]

[1] Complete Letters, 147. See examples of an original and amended advertisement at Decatur

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