One reason for visiting Cape May during Christmas week this year was my desire to visit the annual "Designers' Showcase House." This year the featured house was the "Memucan Hughes" house at 608 Hughes Street. Built in 1847 for Hughes, a ship pilot, this house had many Federal architectural features and had been added to or renovated several times over the years. It seemed odd at first that the house was not a Victorian, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
For this showcase, each room had been decorated by a different designer, and almost every room had been decorated for Christmas as well. The house is extremely large featuring 11 bedrooms and 6 baths alone, but we were not allowed in the private rooms. What I did see were the library, parlor or living room, kitchen, enclosed sun porch, basement spa room, and wine cellar with dining room, the upstairs dining room, one bedroom and 2 baths, and the home theatre and game rooms on the top floor of the house. The necessary places had obviously been updated but the rooms sported beautiful furniture sprinkled with just the perfect antiques, inviting linens, fireplaces, and cozy spaces throughout. The many tasteful Christmas decorations and Christmas trees were the icing on the cake.
Also located on the property and to the side of a very good size backyard was a renovated Carriage House which had no less than 3 bedrooms and 2 baths itself!
This fabulous property was for sale, furnished for the amazing sum of $3.8 million dollars including the Carriage House. If interested in the Carriage House along, the asking price was $890,000!! Much too rich for my blood, but I still dream of owning a Victorian cottage here in Cape May some day!
Stroll around the Historic Center of town and marvel at the numerous victorian houses such as those pictured here. Many were built during the periods of the 1870s thru 1890s. Today, many of these historic homes are still lived in while others serve as Bed and Breakfasts and even some are retail shops.
The fancy pink house now houses a bridal shop.
The main draw for Cape May over other shore locations is the Victorian houses EVERYWHERE. I've actually visited in the winter when they were decorated for Christmastime. You can either take a tour to find out more historical information or just wander around and enjoy the architecture on your own.
Many lucky people are fortunate enough to own private, summer homes in Cape May about the size of the one pictured here. It may have a small lot, but don't be fooled. Houses of this size could cost probably around $400,000 (2005) or more unless they are in need of major repair. On our recent visit to Cape May (7/4/05), we found prices have sky-rocketed on the Jersey shore. For a somewhat larger Victorian with several bedrooms, and a larger yard than pictured here, you can expect to pay $750,000 and up if it is located near the center of town. The more Victorian detailed homes are the most sought after.
It is unfortunate that the accompanying picture of this little house doesn't reveal just how special it is in shades of cream, mauve and purple with hanging flower baskets of the same colors. I especially love the little window with lace curtains and shutters high up on the second story. (It's a girl thing!) Too bad it doesn't have a large yard, but I will wager that it has a lovely garden in the back.
This beautiful house is another example of the ornate, wordwork trim called "gingerbread" which is the signature feature of houses and often hotels in Cape May. During the 1800's, well-to-do families from Philadelphia and other areas, sea captains, and captains of industry marked Cape May as a summer retreat and built magnificent summer "cottages" here on the Jersey shore. Today, many of these cottages have been preserved and are reborn as Bed & Breakfasts lodgings. You'll pay a fair penny to stay in one of them.
You can imagine the upkeep of these buildings is definitely labor intensive due to the constant wear of the salt air, and intense sun which can prematurely deteriorate the woodwork and paint.
While not the only terrific thing about Cape May, the Victorian architecture at Cape May is definitely a highlight. These cottages, while not nearly as large as the "cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island, are substantial structures. The ones pictured here have the added feature of facing directly on the oceanfront. These cottages are privately owned, but may often be rented for summer months--not for those with light wallets!
In 1869 a wealthy Pennsylvania coal baron John B. McCreary, decided to build an elaborate home on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Cape May. He contracted a famous architect, Stephen Decatur Button, to design his summer retreat and the result was a beautiful gothic villa with an imposing 60 foot tower, stenciled and ruby glass arched windows, large comfortable rooms and shaded verandas.
Today, this opulent home is a seaside bed & breakfast inn. Furnished with Victorian antiques including floor to ceiling mirrors, ornate gas lighting fixtures, tall walnut beds, private baths, and marble topped dressers, it is a step back to a bygone era.
You Can Live In An Victorian House When Visiting Cape May Many Of Them Is Hotells And B&B`s Now A Day.