No, this is not about some church on the water but of a
historic hotel that is so beautiful that once you see it, you want to go inside
It seems every time I go to Cape May New Jersey, I have to
see this wonderful architectural gem, and once more make my imagination run
wild about a time long ago, when things were different.
The following is from the website:
The Angel of
the Sea was built around 1850 as a "summer cottage" for William
Weightman, Sr., a Philadelphia chemist who, as managing partner of Powers &
Weightman, introduced quinine to the United States as an anti-malarial drug.
Built as a single structure, the house originally stood on the corner of
Franklin and Washington Streets where the Cape May Post Office now stands.
In 1881, Mr. Weightman decided that an ocean view from the broad
porches of his "cottage" would be appreciated by family, friends and
guests. To accomplish this goal, he hired a number of local farmers to move the
house to a piece of property on the corner of Ocean and Beach Avenues, near
where the Marquis de Lafayette now stands.
The farmers discovered the house was too large to move as one
unit. Not wanting to lose the winter work, they decided to cut the house in
half, move it in sections and then reconnect it after the move. Their task took
all winter long, pulling the sections on rolling tree trunks with mule and
horse power! Unfortunately, after both halves of the house were moved to the
new location, the farmers discovered that, although their mules and horses were
quite adequate for "pulling" the house, they proved totally
ineffective in "pushing" it back together.
Summer was close upon them, and Mr. Weightman would soon be
returning to Cape May. The farmers enclosed the sides where the cut had been
made, renovated as best they could and hurried back to their farming chores.
The results of their efforts are the two buildings as they stand today.
The house remained in the Weightman family until Mr. Weightman's
death in 1905. During the next 50 or so years the Weightman Cottage, as it was
called, was used as a hotel, guest house and, during one period, a restaurant.
In 1962 a powerful Nor'easter ripped through New Jersey and
devastated the city of Cape May. Referred to by many as the Storm of the
Century, it destroyed much of the town including Convention Hall and the
boardwalk. Miraculously the Angel survived, but not without considerable
damage. The massive rebuilding that followed the storm cleanup called for the
two houses to be torn down to make room for a parking lot. They were saved from
this fate when they were purchased by the Reverend Carl McIntire and moved
(this time on flatbed trucks) to their present location on Trenton Avenue. From
1962 to 1981, the houses were used as a dormitory for students from Shelton
College and to board employees from several nearby inns. During this time they
received very little maintenance and in 1981 they were declared uninhabitable.
Virtually unwanted, this once magnificent structure was left abandoned to
vandals and the elements until December of 1988.
About that time, John Girton, a builder and developer, and his
wife Barbara crawled through a window to check out the soundness of the
buildings. Although all of the windows were broken out, walls had collapsed and
many of the porches and stairways had rotted, it appeared the houses could be
saved! Based on what they found, the Girtons purchased the property and began renovations
in January, 1989. Time was money and John Girton led his crews seven days a
week around the clock to put the Angel back together. At times, as many as 75
people were working on the site during a 24 hour period. At the end of one
shift, one painting crew would get off the scaffolding and another would get on
A trailer set up in the backyard housed a fully functional
cabinet-making shop. There artisans and carpenters would find bits and pieces
of the original building and piece them together. They then recreated on-site
all the gingerbread detail, wall brackets and windows, copying the original
designs they found. The first of the two buildings opened in July of 1989, only
six short months after renovations had begun! One year later, the most complete
Victorian restoration in New Jersey was completed. The total project cost
approximately $3.5 million and was done with over 103,000 man hours of labor.
After its first two successful seasons as a bed and breakfast, the
Angel of the Sea was acknowledged as one of the Top Ten B & Bs in the
United States by two national bed and breakfast organizations. It also won the
Historic Preservation Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation
in Washington, DC for renovation to historic specifications.
In the fall of 1995, John and Barbara sold the Angel to their
oldest daughter, Lorie Whissell. Since then, Lorie has made numerous additions
and upgrades to the inn, refurbishing many of the guestrooms and adding
additional guest services. A new interlocking brick patio was created in the
rear of the inn and the landscaping was extensively redesigned and brand new
deck was installed on the first floor porch. Flat screen TVs have been placed
in many of the rooms and the Angel now offers guests wireless Internet access.
As we toured the hotel lobby, we walked out and two gentlemen were busy working installing some kind of electrical thing, and one of them asked us if we would be inrested in getting a view from the top of the building, off of one of the balcony/porches! We immediately took him up on it an had the most beautiful view of the beach, boardwalk and surrounding Cape May to put the icing on our cake!
If you are ever in the neighborhood, please do yourself a
favor and visit the place, or better still, make a reservation for a few days
of angelic serenity, and passion for beauty.
Address: 1231 Taft Hwy, Signal
Mountain, TN 37377
Labels: Historical, personal