A Prompt for Restoration

A year ago, Ron Goldstein, then president of Cape May’s Chamber of Commerce, knew little about Stephen Smith and the summer home he built on Lafayette Street in 1846. And whenever Goldstein passed it on his way downtown, he could barely see the building behind the shrubs and trees that obscured it. But last year…

Small Town, Big League

The first sign that something unusual was happening on a freezing day in late January, deep into Cape May’s off season, was that there was nowhere to park within blocks of Convention Hall. Outside, latecomers were streaming in twos and threes up the steps, and unlike many events in town that lean toward beach casual,…

Stephen Smith: Cape May’s Underground Railroad Leader

You’ve probably walked past the unimposing pale yellow house at 645 Lafayette Street many times, and perhaps you read the historical marker out front—the one saying that Stephen Smith was a businessman, philanthropist, abolitionist and founder of Cape May’s AME Church. But what you didn’t know is that Smith, who spent many summers in Cape…

All-American Recovery: The Bald Eagle

On an ordinary afternoon in March, Cape May resident Linda Portewig was standing outside with her son when she witnessed a fierce battle suddenly erupt in the sky. To her great surprise, two Bald Eagles had forcefully collided and appeared to be stuck in a deadly embrace as they spiraled down through the air. Linda…

The Quinine King— And His House, the Survivor

Cape May—in its heyday as the first and most popular seaside resort—attracted all sorts of VIPs. Lured by the restorative powers of the sea and the status of socializing at the beach were United States presidents, southern plantation owners, entrepreneurs, inventors, industrialists, military heroes, architects, artists and—the Quinine King. William Weightman of Philadelphia, the Quinine…

On a Mission

With towering plaster walls to be painted, vaulted ceilings to be refurbished, and a surrounding cemetery to maintain, the old Goshen United Methodist Church, which stood empty for three years, is once again a swarm of activity and community involvement. Musicians are congregating for nightly jam sessions in the sanctuary, craftspeople are donating their skills,…

Family Affair

In the early part of the 20th century, when the Wildwoods weren’t so wild yet, dreamers came to the shores here with a little money, rolled up their sleeves and built the place we know today. They were men like Sebastian Ramagosa, the “King of the Boardwalk,” who ushered in tram cars and arcades. William…

In the Beginning: The Mainstay Inn

Forty-two years ago,  God visited the Mainstay Inn. Well, it wasn’t actually the Supreme Being, and it wasn’t quite the Mainstay Inn, at least not the one that stands proudly on the intersection of Columbia Avenue and Stockton Place now. But back in the early 1970s, the self-appointed deity of the bed-and-breakfast industry was one…

Rescue Squad

It’s a system of loyalty and trust. Loyalty to those who visit Cape May beaches, and trust among the lifeguards themselves. No occupation seems to embody the all-American summer like that of a well-tanned, able-bodied, vigilant and attentive lifeguard. Lifeguards sit upon their chair, constantly scanning the horizon looking for anything amiss. Clad in red…