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Cape May a history lover's paradise COLT SHAW Staff Writer Dec 2, 2019 Dec 2, 2019; 0 {{featured_button_text ... Cape May Historic Congress Hall. The hotel is located in the heart of the Historic District, right across the street from the beach and the Washington Street Mall. Congress Hall: Congress Hall, Cape May History speaks for itself!!! And it didn’t work! For one thing, it didn’t operate on a year-round basis, just in the summer season. Eventually, however, the Christian Beacon Press, the company that owned Congress Hall and other properties, began to run into rough financial straits. Enjoy food and drink service from our Beach Menu. Hotel’s gone. “Change is gonna happen. 17th Century. The hotel, which was nicknamed “Summer House of Presidents” due to its history of presidential guests in the 19th century, underwent extensive renovations in accordance with the National Park Service standards of … Jacob F. Cake. The Congress Hall allows guests to walk to Cape May Beach, Poverty Beach and Washington Street Mall. And a youthful John Philip Sousa, age 28, came to Congress Hall in 1882, where he led the U.S. Marine Corps Band in a week-long concert series. Hotel’s gone. Since 2012, Congress Hall has been honored by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the top US hotels in the Northeast and was recently awarded the #13 spot on Condé Nast Traveler's 2018 Reader’s Choice Awards Top 20 Hotels in the Mid-Atlantic and New York. Our Housekeeping Team will refresh your room twice a day if you'd like, replacing linens and using enhanced cleaning protocols to ensure your space is spotless. Built in 1816, Congress Hall burned down two years later. As our guest, you'll have access to Congress Hall's Fitness Room that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They thought that their town was becoming known as Carl McIntire’s town. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. The next stop on the tour is the majestic Congress Hall. If you get too nostalgic about everything staying the same, you lose it all. The Fitness Room is reserved for one guest at a time and is sanitized between sessions. In the background is the hotel’s famous soaring colonnade, and at the center is Knight, looking decidedly dour. “McIntire played [an] underappreciated but utterly crucial role in the politicization of conservative people of faith in the latter half of the twentieth century,” writes author Markku Ruotsila, who inscribed a copy of the book for Bashaw. New regulations—including fire codes, disability access, asbestos and lead paint rules—added onerous costs to McIntire’s holdings. Learn More. Congress Hall and Cape May: New Jersey’s First Resort explores the implicit connections between this significant hotel and Cape May’s development as a seaside destination. Its replacement—larger and more magnificent—underwent a series of expansions, including the addition of one entire wing, and it lasted exactly 60 years, until the Great Fire of 1878 reduced much of central Cape May to … This exhibit also considers how Cape May and Congress Hall’s history fits in with the larger community of New Jersey ocean resorts. It acquired its moniker back in 1829, when the then-current owner decided to honor the fact that its builder, Tom Hughes, got himself elected to the House of Representatives that year, serving two terms. But in the long history of Congress Hall, it’s fair to say that none of the owners who preceded Bashaw were as flamboyant or controversial as Carl McIntire, Bashaw’s grandfather, who took over Congress Hall in 1967. And so I feel like my job as the current custodian is to lay the groundwork and to make sure that we stay relevant. “A quarter century after the country was founded, this hotel was a watering hole, a gathering spot. “He was definitely extreme by most people’s standards, philosophically,” admits Bashaw. The 4-star property is also a few steps from the Easy Lynne Theater and Cape May State Professional Equity Theater. We'll set you up with complimentary chairs, towels and umbrellas on the beach in front of Congress Hall. Learn More. Bashaw, along with his cousin Norris Clark, disentangled the mess, and set his sights on integrating the Admiral and Congress Hall with Cape May’s burgeoning Victorian renaissance. © 2020 Cape Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. “I’ve never met any of them. Love the history and ambience. But at least four U.S. presidents have ensconced themselves in one of Congress Hall’s ocean-view suites, though you won’t find Lincoln, Wilson, or the Roosevelts in the mix: Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Ulysses Grant, and most notably Benjamin Harrison—who, partisans of Congress Hall are fond of pointing out, settled into a kind of summer White House on the ground floor in 1890 and 1891 while the real White House was being renovated. Does the government own it? But you have to think about these things.”, Receive 1 year of Cape May Magazine (6 issues) for $29, Rendering of the original Congress Hall in the 1800s, pre-fire. Congress Hall, America’s First Seaside Resort is located in the quaint Victorian beach town of Cape May, New Jersey. He remembers McIntire, in his trademark white suit and white shoes, coming down to the beach one day, back in 1967, saying, “We just agreed to buy Congress Hall. Cape May Landmarks: Congress Hall The two centuries of history that surround Congress Hall, from its earliest days when Elias Hughes operated the town's first tavern on the site for local whalers, are as fascinating as the massive two-year restoration project the hotel's been going through. It was originally built in 1878, but was burned down the following year in a fire that consumed 40 blocks of the city. Working with a prominent carpet design firm, Colleen experimented time and time again until she felt it was right. He’s looking at opportunities in retail, to help build what he describes as a “vibrant” downtown. Knight, who didn’t really want to be in the hotel business, and the year after he takes it over it burns to the ground!”, For Bashaw, who grew up in Cape May and for whom Congress Hall was part of the furniture of his childhood, the people who came before him have created a unique sort of collective legacy, and he sees himself as the heir to all of it. The structure being celebrated for its bicentennial isn’t, of course, the one first constructed by old Tom Hughes. He’s giving a lot of thought to changes at the Acme center. Congress Hall in Cape May. - See 1,504 traveler reviews, 692 candid photos, and great deals for Congress Hall at Tripadvisor. Amenities are subject to change based on state and local guidelines. Order breakfast, lunch and dinner off a delicious menu from the Blue Pig Tavern and have your meal delivered right to your guest room. Congress Hall was first built in 1816 and was named after its first owner, Thomas Hughes, who was elected to Congress. “He was not happy, but he never banned me from his house. July 1985. Choose from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, or the New York Times. The third version—whose builders, the Knights, conspicuously advertised to apprehensive vacationers as having been rebuilt out of fireproof brick, not wood!—went up in 1879. And, sporting its characteristic brilliant yellow brick façade, it still commands its premiere position overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the heart of Cape May city. Congress Hall went on to open Cape May's first post-Prohibition cocktail bar (where the Brown Room sits now) in 1934. Press file photo. - Read 1,490 reviews, view 691 traveller photos, and find great deals for Congress Hall at Tripadvisor. In the 1950s, under the bulky Joe Uhler, who’d taken over Congress Hall from the Knights during World War II—when it profited handsomely by hosting military personnel from nearby bases—the stately old edifice saw itself turn tacky, with the color scheme and décor turning to deep red paint and burgundy velour in keeping with the look of, say, a bordello in New Orleans. “They wanted to keep their power base,” says Bashaw. In 2016, celebrating its 200th anniversary, Congress Hall has just undergone a complete makeover, the third in its history. “The town was asleep, and he’s on a thousand radio stations, the main fundamentalist guy in America, this God-and-country preacher. The tour guide, dressed in period dress, did a nice job with her "interactive" tour. The structure, rebuilt in 1879 after a fire destroyed the earlier edifice, was first renovated a century ago and then again in 2002. - See 1,504 traveler reviews, 692 candid photos, and great deals for Congress Hall at Tripadvisor. Citing just one example of the painstaking work that went into the project, after much research Colleen worked up a design for new carpets in the halls, with a newly designed crest, including an image of Annie Knight’s key, and a new, subtly striped pattern for the guest rooms. Sousa, who would live to be 77, would later rise to worldwide fame, including playing for President Harrison’s inaugural in 1889. View Google Map & Enter Your Starting Point. Except Congress Hall. Stockton? Congress Hall: Wonderful place steeped in history. Congress Hall. You’re always stepping into new territory.”, He’s thinking, he says, about adding another two hundred rooms or so to Cape Resorts current properties. Congress Hall in Cape May. This exhibit also considers how Cape May and Congress Hall’s history fits in with the larger community of New Jersey ocean resorts. “All these ghosts, these hauntings, were inspiration to me in trying to bring the place back.”, Bashaw, whose grandfather, the fiery preacher Carl McIntire, owned the hotel for a couple of decades, is proud of the fact that of all the grand hotels that graced Cape May’s avenues since it emerged as a Victorian resort, Congress Hall is one of the last ones standing. Back in the 1990s, she and Curtis collaborated on the renovation of the Virginia Hotel on Jackson Street. Congress Hall. Carl Curtis McIntire, born in 1902, was a Biblical literalist who in 1936 founded the Christian Beacon newspaper and, the following year, established the Bible Presbyterian Church. Congress Hall. Congress Hall is currently closed for a winter refresh and will reopen on March 19th. “Imagine being Thomas Hughes, having built this building you were so proud of, and to have everyone call it Tommy’s Folly, because no one thought it would work,” he says, chatting in a conference room in his office suite just across Perry Street from Congress Hall. “My relationship to the history has become very personal, because those are the few people that have shared this place with me,” he says. Led by "Annie Knight" who owned the hotel from 1904-1931, our 60-minute History Tours are an interactive and engaging way to learn all about the Big House by the Sea. Over the years, it had become dilapidated, and it was desperately in need of a roof-to-foundation renovation. Its replacement—larger and more magnificent—underwent a series of expansions, including the addition of one entire wing, and it lasted exactly 60 years, until the Great Fire of 1878 reduced much of central Cape May to a charred pile of rubble. The current Trulia Estimate for 207 Congress … The third-floor hallway is said to be haunted. It was, in many ways, a labor of love, because he’d grown up there as a kid, swimming in the surf in front of Congress Hall or playing Ski-Ball at the arcade. “It was going through all of this and figuring out what tells the story best,” she says. In a town where history is everywhere, whose sprawling Historic District itself earned the distinction of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Congress Hall stands out as a singular landmark. Our street names are ghosts of hotels that are no longer here. He just said, ‘It’s between you and the Lord. “When you go back to 1816, it’s almost the entire history of the country,” says Bashaw. History of Cape May. Waters Burrows Miller. Congress Hall and Cape May: New Jersey’s First Resort explores the implicit connections between this significant hotel and Cape May’s development as a seaside destination. “I was in my junior year. There were slaves here in Cape May County, and the idea that there was slave labor in building the hotel is likely. July 1985. Ok, so I booked an ocean view king for my recent 10 year wedding anniversary.. Congress Hall: Wonderful place steeped in history. “I came back just in the nick of time,” he says. Congress Hall is also awarded with Tripadvisor's Certificate of Excellence.Voted New Jersey's Best Hotel by Travel + Leisure and its readers. That’d be a drag. It is, according to Bashaw, maybe America’s very oldest hotel. So the question is, Are we going to be a change agent or not? According to a new biography, Fighting Fundamentalist: Carl McIntire and the Politicization of American Fundamentalism, McIntire was the pioneer of mixing Christianity and politics. The Congress Hall Bike Shop offers singles, doubles, children’s bikes, surreys and helmets.View Bike Shop Hours, Enjoy complimentary chairs and towels at Congress Hall's Pool, as well as food and drink service from our Pool Bar and Grill. This property is not currently available for sale. View All Congress Hall Dining. The band had created little interest outside Washington until Sousa assumed leadership in 1880. Cape May was and is today a popular east coast resort area, and in 1882 the U. S. Marine Band made its first appearance there under Sousa’s direction. The owners decided to renovate the hotel in 2000, and encountered a lot of activity during demolition. As our guest, you'll be right in the middle of Cape May's historic downtown. View Activities Calendar. Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. Pool Service is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest. “McIntire built the networks and alliances with the GOP Right that the Jerry Falwells and [others] cemented in the late 1970s.” In a sense, McIntire was the creative genesis behind the Falwell’s Moral Majority and, later, Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition. The twenty-something Knight, resplendent in a Victorian-era dress, points to one of the photographs. The 600 buildings that form the District feature stunning examples of Late Victorian, Eclectic, Queen Anne, Italianate, Gothic Revival, Colonial and French Second Empire style. “The hauntedness of the place!” he exclaims, when asked what the storied history of Congress Hall means to him. And he said, ‘I want you to manage Congress Hall for me next season.’”, Bashaw, today, expresses unbridled admiration for his grandfather. “That was an insane process! And his holdings include the Acme shopping plaza and the retail arcade along Ocean Street. Other owners dabbled in politics too, including Charles W. Sandman, Jr., a New Jersey state senator who bought a stake in Congress Hall in 1958 and who served as a member of Congress from 1967 to 1975, including a run for governor of New Jersey in 1973. “I imagined that if she had a sense of humor, it would have been pretty dry. Stay connected with complimentary high-speed WiFi, available in your guest room or anywhere on our beautiful grounds. Does it have anything to do with Congress? Cape May Tourism Congress Hall was built in 1816 and was acquired by Cape Advisors in 1995. “So we always knew that the time was coming for us to get at it the right way.” Starting last summer, she began overseeing plans for another top-to-bottom redo of Congress Hall. Congress Hall was first built in 1816 and was named after its first owner, Thomas Hughes, who was elected to Congress. Complete details of this offer can be found here. Sessions are first-come, first-serve. Gilbert Ramagosa and Charlie Sandman. Benjamin Harrison, our 23 rd president, made Cape May’s Congress Hall his “Summer White House” during his term (1889-1893). Congress Hall has a rich history and is the premier hotel in the town. Daily Newspaper Service is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest. And I felt (and it was) a great option to celebrate for a night without having to book a flight.. nice 2 hour ride and a wonderfully charming town. “Congress Hall” (1882) Congress Hall is the name of a historic inn at Cape May, New Jersey. Using his newfound business acumen, Bashaw started to decide what he could save from his grandfather’s bankrupt empire. Mount Vernon? The new Congress Hall opened in 2002 following a $25 million renovation, utilizing whenever possible the original features of the building. A sense of humor, it had become dilapidated, and documents of its past within Cape the. Did a nice job with her `` interactive '' tour bicentennial isn ’ think. 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