Rock Lodge Club

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Rock Lodge is a family-oriented nonprofit nudist club located on 145 acres (0.59 km2) of privately owned land in the New Jersey Highlands of Northern New Jersey, about 40 miles (64 km) from Manhattan, New York.

Rock Lodge pond swimming lake.

Social nudism started at Rock Lodge in 1932. Currently, nonmember visits to Rock Lodge are arranged through an inquiry at the club website.

The club surrounds a spring-fed lake which is over 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level, where summer temperatures are generally about 10 degrees cooler than in New York City. Club activities include swimming, tennis, hiking, volleyball, boating, sailing, and badminton. In addition to its lake, a clubhouse, and its eponymous, historic Stone House (described below), facilities include hard and clay tennis courts, a sauna and hot tub. Club members and visitors represent a diverse group of ages (from babies to senior citizens) and cultures. Social activities include seasonal parties, kids' activities (such as a Lake Day), and a Sunday afternoon Coffee Klatch, where members serve up a meal for everyone present.

CNN correspondent Jeanne Moos visited Rock Lodge and interviewed several people. One told her they found the experience to be a "great stress reliever." Another described it as "very natural."

"They tend to have a sense of humor," Moos quipped after one person described the convenience of visiting a destination where you only need to pack a small bag with just a few clothes. "There are plenty of kids," she reported. "They love running around without clothes: the whole atmosphere seemed wholesome, sort of back to nature." She added, "the mood is anything but sexy, the bodies come in all shapes and sizes, young and old."


The eponymous Rock Lodge Stone House built as a model fireproof farm house by engineer A. L. A. Himmelwright in 1907 and presently used as a residence and overnight rental facility at Rock Lodge Club. This photograph is circa 1938.

In the late nineteenth century, A. L. A. Himmelwright, an engineer at the Roebling Construction Company, bought the land that today is used by Rock Lodge nudist club. Prior to this, the property, located in the Stockholm area of Hardyston Township, New Jersey in the New Jersey Highlands, was used for timber and agriculture. There is also evidence of iron prospecting, possibly connected to a Thomas Edison mine works located nearby.

In 1904–1905, Himmelwright used oxen to dredge a swamp, and built a dam to create a lake fed by a stream located near the lake, as well as by 17 underwater springs. This main spring is mentioned in deeds and early leases as a water supply for surrounding neighbors as well as for Rock Lodge.

In 1907, Himmelwright erected a "model fireproof farmhouse", now known as the Stone House, which features a poured concrete roof, stained glass, a basement with coal furnace, and a state-of-the-art (in its day) water supply system which pumped water from the spring to a holding tank on the third floor. In 2007, to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the Stone House, the original plans for the construction of the building were reproduced. A booklet containing the plans is available from the club for $15 (US) plus shipping.

This newspaper ad probably ran in the 1940s during World War II given its reference to saving gasoline and "rubber" tires, and touting Rock Lodge Club's proximity to New York City. In the ad, AGA stands for the American Gymnosophical Association, the group promoting social nudism at the time.

Other early buildings that are still standing and in use today included a stable (now known as the Hacienda that houses the Club's office), an ice house, where, prior to the availability of refrigeration, ice harvested from the lake in the winter was stored for use through the summer. Around 1919, Himmelwright built a bungalow (clubhouse), when the property was being used as a training camp for boxers—during the Roaring Twenties the property was a training camp for Jack Dempsey and other boxers. Amenities for the boxers included an indoor handball court and coal heat, with a fireplace and living room.

During the Great Depression, Herman Shoshinsky leased the property as the proprietor of the American Gymnosophical Association, and nudism came to Rock Lodge.

In 1938 or 1939, the property was bought by Francis E. DePaolo, a chiropractor who lived across Rock Lodge Road near the spring. In 1942, Dr. DePaolo and Shoshinsky had a falling out, and the A.G.A. moved to Newfoundland, New Jersey. Rock Lodge as a cooperative nudist club began that year with a one year lease. In 1946, a 10-year lease was negotiated with DePaolo, and summer cabins began to appear, though some may have been built in the 1930s. In 1957, a 40-year lease was signed, and a building boom occurred. Along with summer cabins, much of the club infrastructure was built in the late 1950s and 1960s.

By the late 1980s, the end of a 40-year lease was in the near future, and several attempts were made to organize a purchase by members. In 1990, Rock Properties Inc. was formed as a nonprofit organization, and money was raised by members for the purchase of 35 acres (140,000 m2). Another land purchase was made in 1995, bringing the total present club to 145 acres (0.59 km2).

Rock Lodge Club is a member of the American Association for Nude Recreation.

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Coordinates: 41°04′22″N 74°32′01″W / 41.07287°N 74.53361°W / 41.07287; -74.53361