Taylor Swift’s Jersey Shore Childhood the Subject of Museum Exhibit

Swift spent summers in Stone Harbor for more than a decade. An exhibit at a local museum celebrates the singer through photos, memorabilia and more.

Taylor Swift in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, as a child
Taylor Swift spent many childhood summers in Stone Harbor. A new exhibit at the Stone Harbor Museum celebrates her Jersey roots as well as some of her recent projects. Photo: Courtesy of the Stone Harbor Museum

Unless you’re a die-hard Swiftie, you may not know that the Pennsylvania-born megastar is also a New Jerseyan: For 12 summers, Taylor Swift’s family owned a home on the bay in Stone Harbor, which she has called a “magical place to grow up.”

This summer, at the Stone Harbor Museum, you can get a peek into Swift’s formative years in the idyllic Shore town. Swift, 34, vacationed there from 1992 until 2004, when her family moved to Nashville to help her break into the music industry.

The exhibit includes photos of Swift as a child in Stone Harbor, provided by her family. Other items include four vinyls of her Midnights album that form a clock display, a “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert film poster, a Taylor Swift-inspired Peter Max poster, and a Midnights-themed guitar signed by Swift.

“We are thrilled to have these items,” Teri Fischer, president of the board of trustees for the museum, said in a news release. “Taylor Swift is definitely part of the Stone Harbor story, and I know that she does delight and inspire so many of us.”

taylor swift

“When I would run out of material, I’d just start making up songs on the spot,” Swift once said of playing in cafes in Stone Harbor. Photo: Shutterstock

The Swifts were woven into the fabric of Stone Harbor. Scott Swift, the singer’s father, was an EMT with the Stone Harbor Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, while the budding star herself could often be found playing her music in local coffee shops and cafes.

“I used to sing karaoke at Henry’s [on Third Avenue] and play acoustic shows for hours on end at Coffee Talk, a little cafe on 98th Street,” Swift said in a 2009 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I used to drag my parents into those places all the time, and all of their friends would show up and put dollars in my tip jar. When I was younger, I used to play for hours and hours in cafes like that. When I would run out of material, I’d just start making up songs on the spot.”

Henry’s has since shuttered, along with the Italian Garden restaurant, another favorite of Swift’s. But for those who want to walk in the shoes of the pop icon, the Coffee Talk cafe is still open, along with Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream (which is also one of New Jersey Monthly‘s favorite ice cream shops). For an authentic reenactment, order the cookies ‘n’ cream, which Swift says was her favorite.

“When I was little, I used to walk in there and just stare up at all the flavors and toppings, completely frozen and unable to make a final decision,” she told the Inquirer. “I was always so overwhelmed.”

The Swift memorabilia will be on display at the museum through the end of September.

Swift was back at the Shore last summer, when her close pal and collaborator Jack Antonoff married the actress Margaret Qualley on Long Beach Island—causing a frenzy among Swifties and paparazzi. Antonoff, who grew up in Bergenfield, has a home on LBI with Qualley.

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