The Bayshore Center at Bivalve (BCB) was founded in 1988 to save and restore the AJ Meerwald (AJM), a 1928 Delaware Bay Oyster Schooner. BCB works to advance the understanding of the human impact on New Jersey’s aquatic environment through education, advocacy and programming.
In 1996, AJM was listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places and was designated by the state government as the Official Tall Ship of New Jersey in 1998. During the restoration, a framework for a region-wide educational facility and shipboard programming was built, membership base initiated, a volunteer program instituted, and educational initiatives and cultural events hosted. In 1991, BCB opened the Delaware Bay Museum to document the people and their history that made the growth of the oyster industry possible. The museum is housed in the Oyster Shipping Sheds located along the banks of the Maurice River in Bivalve (Commercial Township) Cumberland County, NJ. Originally built in 1904 the Shipping Sheds are now the home port of the AJM , houses BCB’s administrative offices and the Oyster Cracker Café.
The Museum interprets the Delaware Bay’s maritime traditions and history of human life and its impact on the aquatic environment. Through a multi-media approach, as well as, exhibits of historic artifacts, patrons can see and contrast life on the Bay then and now. Patrons learn about the oyster industry today and what actions are being taken to ensure the industry is sustainable and that over oyster harvesting is prevented. The collection is not only on display at the museum, but is on loan to nationally known museums and its archives are available to the public for historic study and genealogy.
From April through October, the AJM visits ports around the state offering educational sails, public sails and charters and participates in regional events. BCB uses its deep knowledge of the Delaware Bay’s environmental history as a template to highlight the history of ports around the AJM visits.
What started out as a grassroots effort of a few to save the historic schooner has grown into an effort of many to a professional staff of 6 plus a seasonal crew of 12 including a well-respected and proficient Museum Curator and a ship Captain. The organization is a proud ambassador of New Jersey’s maritime history both on land and sea.