by Dorothy Kulisek
There is indeed, perhaps, no better way to hold communion with the sea than sitting in the sun on the porch of a home that overlooks the sea. Above the front stoop of Bill & Michelle Sheeran’s home, hangs a sign that reads, “Take Time to Sit by the Sea.” On my way to the beach, I’ve walked past this particular house 100’s of times; always with a deep longing in my heart to live so close to the sea and be able to sit on a porch and watch its ever-changing nature. Little did I know that one day I would have the privilege to learn about its history and meet the family inside.
I am speaking about the house at 212 E. 3rd Ave. in North Wildwood on the corner of 3rd and Surf. It was built in the 1920’s but Wally & Doris Carty didn’t purchase it until around 1948 after they had established Wally’s Café at Walnut & Olde New Jersey Aves. Wally made the new seaside cottage his family’s summer home while they lived atop the bar the rest of the year. It wasn’t until 1958 that he installed heat in the house and moved in year round. Back in those days, big families were accustomed to living in small houses. It was just the modest way of the times.
There comes a time in every family when your parents pass away and the family estate either goes on the market for sale or stays in the family. In this case, it made sense that Michelle Carty Sheeran move her family into the house since she was the only one of her siblings still residing in Wildwood at the time of their mothers’ death in 1998. Bill and Michelle Sheeran, along with their children, Kevin, Meridith and Emily, (and dog at the time) Murphy, made the big move from 4th to 3rd Ave.
As Michelle gave me the grand tour of one of my favorite old houses, we began on the porch where she said beach-goers would stop and marvel at the family parrot who made his home there. We went in the front door and I was shown where curtains were hung as dividers for her parents’ room that was about the size of today’s typical walk-in closet. Michelle showed me where 4 children slept in 2 little rooms that each had a bunk bed. It’s easy to realize how much the times have changed today when you revisit yesterday. Michelle actually shared a room with her brother ~ that would be unheard of today! Over time, the Carty house underwent renovations. In the 50’s, the upstairs attic was converted into 2 teeny weeny bedrooms with teeny weeny windows and 7 ft. ceilings. In 1965, the most significant and memorable change made to the house was the addition of the Carty family rec room. I’m sure if the walls could talk they would have told me many more stories. Michelle said there wasn’t a day that went by from 1965 through 1978 that there wasn’t a party going on in there. For those of you that can say you were there, you’ll remember the pool table and the juke box and the TV and it had its own bathroom. It was designed so that Mom & Dad Carty could sit in the living room and see straight through to the rec room. That was, as long as the door was open!
In 2002, Bill & Michelle hired Coastline Construction to do a major renovation to their little seaside bungalow. Their children were growing and the girls especially needed some more space between them. Jerry Rosenberg & Ricky Davis of Coastline probably never realized that one day they would be working in one of their old hangouts, “Club Carty!”
Michelle showed me the fireplace that was built in the wall when her mother had the house renovated in 1981 after her father passed. Michelle did not have the same tastes for dark wood and stone as her mother had. When it came time, Michelle and her carpenter son Kevin, went to it with a sledgehammer. The fireplace and mantle became Kevin’s first major woodworking project. He designed a colonial looking mantle with adjacent bookshelves on both sides. It’s up at the top of the stairs in an area that’s perfect for cozying up with a good book, a crackling fire, and unobstructed ocean views… indeed a spot to “Take time to sit by the sea.”
Bill & Michelle have transformed this old house along with the corner it sits on across from the sea. However, all the renovations in the world will not change the story of the house. While sitting on the porch, Michelle will occasionally hear people comment on what a lovely home they have. She’ll still have people stop and ask if the family with the parrot still lives here. She’ll say, “that’s me!”