J. H. Cook’s Bee Hive was one of the earliest dry goods stores in Asbury Park. It was started by John Harry Cook, a Philadelphia born son of German Immigrants who arrived in Asbury Park in either 1879 or 1881 while in his mid-twenties. At first, he opened a small dry goods store on Cookman Avenue. Cook was so successful that he soon built a much larger three-story store at 200 Main Street on the northeast corner of Cookman and Main. That structure, built ca. 1885 of local brick, is said to have been the first brick building in Asbury Park. A large bee hive representation on the roofline symbolized all the activity buzzing in the store below.
The bee hive symbol was used in the early years’ advertising. J. H. Cook’s Beehive sold men and women’s clothing, house furnishings, dry goods and sewing accessories. In 1904, the store enlarged by adding on an adjoining store to the original. The store added linoleums, oil cloths, carpeting, all utensils needed for kitchens and dining rooms, hammocks, swings, croquet sets, outdoor seats, and benches.
Through much of its existence, J.H. Cook’s Bee Hive competed with Steinbach’s department store across the street. Still in operating in 1925, J. H. Cook’s Bee Hive closed prior to 1930, reopening as Thomas’ Department Store. The building is still standing today. – Pamela Horner
(c) Pamela Horner, Asbury Park Museum