Eventually, however, the Christian Beacon Press, the company that owned Congress Hall and other properties, began to run into rough financial straits. Congress Hall was built in 1816 and was acquired by Cape Advisors in 1995. “She took it over in 1904, when she was in her forties,” says Reilly, who compiled a fair amount of research before using her theatrical skills to create a character about whose personality and bearing very little is known. The town was like, ‘We’re losing our identity to this guy.’” McIntire clashed with the city over a number of issues, including beach fees and back taxes, and he frowned on drinking and other vices. Congress Hall: Congress Hall, Cape May History speaks for itself!!! Order breakfast, lunch and dinner off a delicious menu from the Blue Pig Tavern and have your meal delivered right to your guest room. “People used to come here for health reasons, and to breathe the ocean air in, and I wanted that to be part of the feel of the room. “I’ve never met any of them. Review of Congress Hall. 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. Complete details of this offer can be found here. 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. So I think about finding the right protégé who would take it for the next 60 years.” He pauses, and laughs again. Pool Service is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest. Annie Knight, the owner and proprietor of Congress Hall strolls slowly down the building’s central, dark-paneled hallway, guiding guests and tourists through the two centuries since the building was first erected in 1816. 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. Working with a prominent carpet design firm, Colleen experimented time and time again until she felt it was right. Amenities are subject to change based on state and local guidelines. In 2002, after a decade-long struggle, Bashaw presided over the hotel’s grand reopening, which he and his company, Cape Resorts, Inc., now own. She stuck to her guns. Over the years, it had become dilapidated, and it was desperately in need of a roof-to-foundation renovation. Last year, Cape Resorts’ payroll was close to $14 million. Congress Hall was first built in 1816 and was named after its first owner, Thomas Hughes, who was elected to Congress. The third-floor hallway is said to be haunted. President Harrison, his wife, and family, would enjoy riding around Cape May County to take in the local culture and environment. “That was an insane process! He’s giving a lot of thought to changes at the Acme center. 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. His Christian Beacon had a circulation of 650,000 at its peak, and McIntire’s radio broadcasts had 20 million listeners over 600 radio stations around the country. What everyone asks, especially newcomers to Cape May, is: Why is it called Congress Hall? There were slaves here in Cape May County, and the idea that there was slave labor in building the hotel is likely. This property is not currently available for sale. 207 Congress Pl, Cape May, NJ 08204 is a 7 bedroom, 6 bathroom, 3,578 sqft single-family home built in 1878. Valet Parking is provided. In 2003, according to the Press of Atlantic City, Congress Hall was assessed for tax purposes, when it reopened, “at a whopping $11 million;” today, Bashaw says, the assessment for Congress Hall by itself has risen to $28 million. The third-floor hallway is said to be haunted. Stockton? And he did it all from his headquarters in Cape May. Press file photo. 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. Congress Hall, located in Philadelphia at the intersection of Chestnut and 6th Streets, served as the seat of the United States Congress from December 6, 1790 to May 14, 1800. On a Congress Hall History Tour, you'll be guided through this grand hotel's storied past. July 1985. “We can’t find any other.” And while it’s possible to quibble with that—it depends, in part, on how many rooms you use to define a hotel as opposed to, say, an inn or guest house—it’s not easy to prove him wrong. Congress Hall. I wanted that to shine through.”. The tax bills piled up. 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. “We’re probably the biggest private employer in Cape May county,” says Bashaw, whose Cape Resorts, Inc., last year employed 761 people at the height of the summer season. Describing a carnival held in August, 1865, just after the end of the Civil War, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: “The appearance of the ballroom beggars description. On her tour, Reilly describes the tangled and tumultuous history of a building that truly has seen it all. It was originally built in 1878, but was burned down the following year in a fire that consumed 40 blocks of the city. “Change is gonna happen. Ok, so I booked an ocean view king for my recent 10 year wedding anniversary.. Congress Hall: Wonderful place steeped in history. 200 CONGRESS PLACECAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY 08204(609) 884-8421. Congress Hall in Cape May. Congress Hall. Asked where he would like to take things now, going forward, Bashaw grows reflective. New regulations—including fire codes, disability access, asbestos and lead paint rules—added onerous costs to McIntire’s holdings. (Kelly Roncace | For NJ.com) When he was 21 and a junior in college, Bashaw's grandfather asked him to manage Congress Hall. 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. The current Trulia Estimate for 207 Congress … Columbia? Fist built in 1816, Congress Hall stands today after being re-built since being destroyed by the 1878 great fire. Joe Uhler. The Ballroom at Cape May's Congress Hall, May 16, 2017. Built in 1816, Congress Hall burned down two years later. Imagine being poor E.C. Enjoy a varied selection of cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner—all without having to leave the grounds of our hotel. Learn More. And it didn’t work! For one thing, it didn’t operate on a year-round basis, just in the summer season. “I came back just in the nick of time,” he says. Come get to know our beautiful town by the sea. And, he says, “There are properties that I would be interested in helping to renovate.”, But in the long run, the ghosts of the former owners will continue to haunt him. Congress Hall: Wonderful place steeped in history. This exhibit also considers how Cape May and Congress Hall’s history fits in with the larger community of New Jersey ocean resorts. The 1850s included grand renovations of Congress Hall, visits from Presidents Franklin Pierce and Benjamin Harrison, another hotel fire, the Mansion House in 1857, and the construction of a new lighthouse in 1859, that still exists today. 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. The Sea Spa at Congress Hall is a full-service spa that offers unique ocean-inspired treatments in a bright, uplifting atmosphere. Daily Newspaper Service is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest. The tour guide, dressed in period dress, did a nice job with her "interactive" tour. Choose from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, or the New York Times. The band had created little interest outside Washington until Sousa assumed leadership in 1880. If you get too nostalgic about everything staying the same, you lose it all. 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. Enjoy food and drink service from our Beach Menu. Gilbert Ramagosa and Charlie Sandman. Once you're here, our Concierge is a great resource on all things Cape May. Built in 1816, Congress Hall burned down two years later. Toward that end, he played an instrumental role in organizing a group called the Fund for Cape May to raise money for a public-private partnership whose first project was a face-lift for Rotary Park, now nearing completion. And she’s definitely not in her twenties. The walls on both sides of the hallway are lined with scores of photographs, documents, letters and mementos of the historic seaside establishment’s place at the heart of Cape May’s hospitality industry. Great tour of this historic hotel in Cape May, NJ for only $5.00 per person. Cape May Tourism 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. I was super excited as I love Cape May. July 1985. According to a new biography, Fighting Fundamentalist: Carl McIntire and the Politicization of American Fundamentalism, McIntire was the pioneer of mixing Christianity and politics. Special Offer for my readers: Book a stay at Congress Hall, or one of its sister properties, The Virginia Hotel or The Beach Shack, using the code MOMBLOG before July 31st (for travel anytime in 2011) and receive a $100 resort credit. The refurbished hotel has quickly established itself as a prime destination for families, featuring annual Easter and Fourth of July celebrations. Sessions are first-come, first-serve. 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. Massive hotels they were, with broad … “He was definitely extreme by most people’s standards, philosophically,” admits Bashaw. “The hauntedness of the place!” he exclaims, when asked what the storied history of Congress Hall means to him. 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. 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. Its walls are lined with photographs, letters, and documents of its past within Cape May’s history. Stay connected with complimentary high-speed WiFi, available in your guest room or anywhere on our beautiful grounds. So the question is, Are we going to be a change agent or not? Waters Burrows Miller. Beach Service is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest. - See 1,504 traveller reviews, 692 candid photos, and great deals for Congress Hall at Tripadvisor. History buffs welcome: Congress Hall has overlooked the Atlantic Ocean, in the town of Cape May, New Jersey, for over 200 years. In speeches around town, Bashaw has outlined a series of ideas for the future of Cape May, including expanded low-cost and affordable housing, ideas for improving the island’s schools, changes in zoning rules, creation of an expanded, car-free pedestrian town in the city center during peak season, and more attention to the city’s public spaces. Tomorrow: the food, the staff, and the history of 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. - See 1,504 traveler reviews, 692 candid photos, and great deals for Congress Hall at Tripadvisor. The Fitness Room is reserved for one guest at a time and is sanitized between sessions. View Google Map & Enter Your Starting Point. Benjamin Harrison, our 23 rd president, made Cape May’s Congress Hall his “Summer White House” during his term (1889-1893). 17th Century. Congress Hall: Lovely piece of history! Jacob F. Cake. Edward C. Knight and Annie Knight. Our seasonal Activities & Events will keep the whole family smiling all vacation long. Looking back, however, she says that in many ways they didn’t get it right the first time. In the background is the hotel’s famous soaring colonnade, and at the center is Knight, looking decidedly dour. The hotel is located in the heart of the Historic District, right across the street from the beach and the Washington Street Mall. Today, you'll find cutting-edge restaurants in the parlors and terraces of former summer homes, as well as trendy boutiques and shops lining the wooden storefronts of Washington Street. Amenities are subject to change based on state and local guidelines. “He was an accidental preservationist,” says Bashaw. 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. Fitness Room access is included in your stay as a Cape Resorts guest. But we wanted it to have a relaxed, seaside feeling.”, As she shows a visitor around Room 200, a completely renovated, L-shaped corner suite with a glorious ocean view, she explains how a light blue, gray and white color scheme, accented by a red upholstered chair and a lacquered, black four-poster bed, is designed to take advantage of the natural light reflected from the Atlantic. He imparted a lasting set of values to his family, and he remains an inspiration to Bashaw despite his legacy of confrontational politics and radicalism. He’s looking at opportunities in retail, to help build what he describes as a “vibrant” downtown. The spacious hall was crammed with the elite of Philadelphia, [with] hundreds of ladies dressed in queenly splendor.”. 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. “A quarter century after the country was founded, this hotel was a watering hole, a gathering spot. The next stop on the tour is the majestic Congress Hall. Beginning in January, when traffic is lightest, workers began ripping out everything, in the hallways and room by room: all the furniture, all the fixtures, carpets. 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. 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 … It is, according to Bashaw, maybe America’s very oldest hotel. 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. Our street names are ghosts of hotels that are no longer here. In 2001, Colleen joined Curtis in the massive effort to restore Congress Hall to its original glory. Plan your trip with our online guides of restaurant recommendations and local points of interest. By the middle of the 19th century, Congress Hall had earned a reputation as a glittering refuge for the wealthy. You can feel the history...: Congress Hall - See 1,509 traveller reviews, 695 photos, and cheap deals for Congress Hall at Tripadvisor. He just said, ‘It’s between you and the Lord. “I imagined that if she had a sense of humor, it would have been pretty dry. The owners decided to renovate the hotel in 2000, and encountered a lot of activity during demolition. And his holdings include the Acme shopping plaza and the retail arcade along Ocean Street. “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. Answer 1 of 4: Great article from nj.com on the history of Congress Hall hotel in Cape May: nj.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/06/congr… Colleen Bashaw, Curtis’ sister, is an interior design specialist, and she has had her own firm, Colleen Bashaw Designs, for two decades. Benjamin Harrison, our 23 rd president, made Cape May’s Congress Hall his “Summer White House” during his term (1889-1893). He has no children or obvious heirs, and he admits that he can worry about who’s going to succeed him. There's nothing quite like the simple pleasure of room service during your vacation. And, despite his reputation as a tut-tutting moralist, when Bashaw came out as gay, McIntire didn’t reject him. Congress Hall in Cape May. Cape May Tourism Among other things, Bashaw credits McIntire for keeping Congress Hall intact in an era when it could easily have been a victim of a wrecking ball. We'll deliver a complimentary newspaper to your guest room each morning if you'd like. Congress Hall was first built in 1816 and was named after its first owner, Thomas Hughes, who was elected to Congress. Sousa, who would live to be 77, would later rise to worldwide fame, including playing for President Harrison’s inaugural in 1889. Does the government own it? The structure being celebrated for its bicentennial isn’t, of course, the one first constructed by old Tom Hughes. The hotel’s gone. But, for all the work, it retains its magnificent, historic personality and its grand dame  charm. Many of the changes are subtle, designed to blend in with the original framework and fixtures, so that even long-time patrons may be pressed to notice what’s different. Congress Hall. Well, almost, since it does refer to or include two congress members. After a $25 million renovation, Congress Hall finally opened for business again on June 7, 2002. Carl McIntire. And he said, ‘I want you to manage Congress Hall for me next season.’”, Bashaw, today, expresses unbridled admiration for his grandfather. By 1995, Bashaw and a handful of partners secured financing to buy the Admiral and Congress Hall, then closed and shuttered, from the federal government, which had taken possession of the two buildings, and to pay back taxes to the city of Cape May. “Congress Hall” (1882) Congress Hall is the name of a historic inn at Cape May, New Jersey. As our guest, you'll have access to the fully-equipped Fitness Center and Sauna at the nearby Sandpiper Beach Club. © 2020 Cape Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. 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. Cape May celebrates its living history through the preservation— and the clever adaptive reuse—of these grand old buildings. “My relationship to the history has become very personal, because those are the few people that have shared this place with me,” he says. 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. This exhibit also considers how Cape May and Congress Hall’s history fits in with the larger community of New Jersey ocean resorts. Back in the 1990s, she and Curtis collaborated on the renovation of the Virginia Hotel on Jackson Street. For years, rumors swirled in Cape May that Harriet Tubman once worked as a cook on the island at the tip of New Jersey’s tide-washed peninsula, sauteing bacon at the storied Congress Hall hotel and stowing away money for her work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Twice-Daily Housekeeping is included in your stay as a Congress Hall guest. View Activities Calendar. I don’t think it’s the right choice.’ There was no shunning.”. “I mean, I’m still good for another twenty years or so! “He was not happy, but he never banned me from his house. “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. The 4-star property is also a few steps from the Easy Lynne Theater and Cape May State Professional Equity Theater. Does it have anything to do with Congress? Hotel’s gone. The Congress Hall of the early 1990s was a vastly different place from the way it is today. Love the history and ambience. Fitness Center reservations can be made for 45 minutes at a time by calling the Sandpiper Front Desk at (609) 884-6620. “Or imagine being poor Jacob Cake, who built the Perry Street wing, expanding it to accommodate 800 guests. Congress Hall. Congress Hall, America’s First Seaside Resort is located in the quaint Victorian beach town of Cape May, New Jersey. “When you go back to 1816, it’s almost the entire history of the country,” says Bashaw. President Harrison, his wife, and family, would enjoy riding around Cape May County to take in the local culture and environment. We'll set you up with complimentary chairs, towels and umbrellas on the beach in front of Congress Hall. “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. As our guest, you'll have access to Congress Hall's Fitness Room that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Hotel’s gone. Using his newfound business acumen, Bashaw started to decide what he could save from his grandfather’s bankrupt empire. Tours run twice daily....11:30 and 1:30. Cape May Tourism “It outlived all of its peers,” he says. “Congress Hall” (1882) Congress Hall is the name of a historic inn at Cape May, New Jersey. Congress Hall: Wonderful place steeped in history. Certainly, it predates some of the grandest old ladies still standing: Boston’s Parker House, built in 1855, and rebuilt in 1927; Chicago’s Palmer House, erected in 1871; and San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado, 1888. The catch was that they’d decided that they had no choice but to tear down the Admiral, and use the cash that would result from the sale of its oceanfront parcel to kick start financing for Congress Hall’s restoration. “They wanted to keep their power base,” says Bashaw. “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. “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. It’s a tour that Reilly scripted, with the help of a few others, and reenacts regularly. Bashaw, who’d just finished at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, returned to Cape May. Windsor? Congress Hall Useful Findings Situated steps away from the beach, the Congress Hall is great for that rewarding vacation. Its walls are lined with photographs, letters, and documents of its past within Cape May’s history. Indeed, according to Tommy’s Folly, a book by Jack Wright that recounts the history of Congress Hall, Knight left the brick unpainted to reassure visitors that, like the last of the Three Little Pigs’ houses, it was rock solid. - See 1,504 traveler reviews, 692 candid photos, and great deals for Congress Hall at Tripadvisor. Colleen and Curtis went through all of the voluminous archives, checked out the furniture gathering dust in the warehouse, and pored over hundreds of photographs of Congress Hall during its multifaceted eras. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976, the Cape May Historic District comprises one of the country's largest collections of free-standing 19th century architecture. : Congress Hall - See 1,490 traveller reviews, 691 photos, and cheap deals for Congress Hall at Tripadvisor. She was feisty. In a tribute to President’s Day, I thought it would be interesting to see if our town hosted or housed any of our U.S. Presidents. We’re still here.”, The spirits of the former owners continue to inspire Bashaw, who sees himself as a caretaker. “We did forty-six strike-offs before we got the result we wanted!” she says. “I was in my junior year. The twenty-something Knight, resplendent in a Victorian-era dress, points to one of the photographs. 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. 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