Wednesday, May 14, 2014 / by Teresa Dipeso
May is National Historic Preservation Month and the perfect time to visit our treasured Cape May County historic landmarks. Over the last few centuries, Indians, explorers, pirates, whalers, farmers, presidents, tourists and residents have all enjoyed the abundance and natural beauty of this area's waters and the peninsula known today as Cape May County.
Rich in history, the splendor of the Jersey Shore has attracted generations to our beaches. The next time you are in the area, explore the landmarks that make Cape May County a crowning jewel. You won’t be disappointed!
Jersey Shore Historic Sites
1. Tenth Street Station (1898) is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Formerly a train station, it now serves buses. 10th Street & Haven Avenue, Ocean City
2. The Ocean City Historical Museum in the Community Center building features artifacts from the four-masted Sindia, which washed ashore at 17th Street 12/15/01. It was carrying cargo from Kobe, Japan to New York city. 1735 Simpson Avenue, Ocean City.
3. Ocean City's Boardwalk and Music Pier have been entertaining families for most of this century. Weekly concerts are held throughout the summer at the Boardwalk Music Pier.
4. The Friendship School was originally built circa 1830, making it one of the oldest schools in Upper Township. Restored from 1980 to 1983, it was reconstructed with local materials by workers who used early 19th Century vintage hand tools. Route 9 in Palermo. Friendship School and the John Wesley Gandy House farmstead, both early 1800's sites, are managed by the Historical Preservation Society of Upper Township (609) 628-3041.
5. The Society of Friends Meeting House, built circa 1716, is the oldest place of worship in the Cape May County. Sometimes called the "Old Cedar Meeting," it still serves for First day meetings. Route 9 in Seaville.
6. Tuckahoe's Railroad Station (1894-95) is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers. Its restoration is planned. Railroad Avenue in Tuckahoe.
7. Marshallville was one of the earliest glassmaking villages in New Jersey. Its historic district (circa 1840-1860) is listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers. Several 19th Century homes may be seen along the village's main road. Marshallville-Woodbine-Dennisville Road.
8. The Sea Isle City History Museum collection includes memorabilia of wide interest and time periods and features a photograph collection of over a thousand prints. Step back in time and savor your memories of days gone by! 4208 Landis Avenue. The cornerstone for Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was laid in 1884 at 44th and Central in Sea Isle City. The building was constructed there, but was later moved to its present Landis Avenue site where it is still in use.
9. Leaming's Run Gardens and Colonial Farm includes a whaler's recreated one-room log cabin next to a historical authentic vegetable garden laced with herbs. Tobacco and cotton grow just as they did in 1695. 1845 Route 9, Swainton.
10. The former Avalon Lifesaving Station (1894) is listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers. It is now a private residence. 76 West 15th Street.
11. Stone Harbor Museum, a collection of archival material and displays bring the past into the present. American Legion/Lifesaving Station, a museum on the life saving service and a military museum containing artifacts from WWII to present day.
12. Cape May County's Historical Museum is in the John Holmes House, which is also listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers. The original portion of the house was built before the American Revolution. Route 9, Cape May Court House. The Cape May County Historical and Genealogical Society preserves the artifacts and documents significant to Cape May County's History. The Museum is located in a pre-revolutionary structure.
13. The Old Cape May Court House Building (1848-50) is listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. It is frequently used for community meetings, concerts and plays. Main Street (Route 9), Cape May Court House.
14. The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse served sailors form 1874 to 1964. Its Victorian design made a comfortable home for the lighthouse keeper and his family. 1st & Central Avenues, North Wildwood. The Lighthouse is open year round for touring. Seasonal hours 9AM - 5 PM, seven days a week. Call (609) 522-4520 for hours from mid October to mid May.
15. Wildwood's Boardwalk was built at the turn of the century. The wooden walkway has become the heart of this community. Its ferris wheel can be seen for miles around.
16. The George Boyer Historic Museum captures the history of the Wildwoods through hundreds of vintage postcards, photos dating as far back as the 1880s (including an 8' x 30' aerial view shot from a blimp in 1909), the "W" tree, and a collection of firemen's helmets. 3905 Pacific Avenue on Holly Beach Station Mall.
17. The Wildwood Crest Historical Society and Museum displays varied local cultures from the days of the Indian hunters and the battles of the Revolutionary War to the settling of the community in 1904. 5800 Ocean Avenue, (609) 729-4515. Captain (later Commodore) John Barry, "Father of the American Navy," came to the rescue of another Revolutionary naval officer in a skirmish against the British at Turtle Gut Inlet, which was then near New Jersey & Miami Avenues in Wildwood Crest.
18. The 18-room Emlen Physick House is the only authentically restored Victorian house museum in the National Landmark City of Cape May. Tours of both the house and the City's Historic District are offered year 'round. Info call 609-884-5404.
19. The City of Cape May is a National Historic Landmark. With over 600 wooden Victorian structures (circa 1850-1910), it boasts the greatest concentration of such buildings in the country. Cape May is also said to be the "Nation's Oldest Seashore Resort." The Greater Cape May Historical Society, located at the Colonial House Museum behind City Hall, is open June through October with changing exhibits of local historical interest. 653 Washington Street.
20. The United States Coast Guard Base was a Naval base in World War II. Today it is the only coast Guard "boot camp" in the country, as well as an active "search and rescue" center. Summer Sunset Parades on the base stir the patriot in all of us. Pennsylvania & Buffalo Avenues, Cape May
21. The World War II Bunker on the beach in Cape May Point State Park reminds us that, as in previous wars, the entrance to the Delaware Bay was a strategic military position in the 1940s.
22. World War II Lookout Tower (Fire Control Tower No. 23) is part of the massive Fort Miles defense system of the Delaware Bay during World War II. The newly restored Tower is open and equipment and interpretive panels illustrate its important role in homeland defense. Open year-round. Sunset Boulevard, Lower Township. For information, call 609-884-5404.
23. The Cape May Lighthouse was built in 1859 and is said to be the second oldest continually operating lighthouse in the United States. Climb to the top for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Jersey Cape or visit the museum shop in the Lighthouse. Open year-round. County Route 629 & Lehigh Avenue, Cape May Point State Park. For information, call 609-884-5404.
24. HMS Martin, a British sloop, blockaded the Delaware Bay in the War of 1812. Following an attack and grounding on the shoals, it was burned in 1813 and drifted to Cape May Point. Hurricane Hazel exposed what are believed to be the Martin's remains in 1954. County Route 629 & Coral Avenue, Cape May Point.
25. The Concrete Ship, U.S.S. Atlantus, broke loose from her moorings during a 1926 storm and sank where you see her remains today, just off of Sunset Beach.
26. The Fishing Creek Schoolhouse (19th Century) is listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers. Bayshore Road, Villas. Lower Township Historical Society is a non-profit community group dedicated to the investigation of the history of Lower Township. A major project of the Society is the restoration of the Fishing Creek School in Villas. (609) 886-7717
27. "Old Brick" Presbyterian Church in Cold Spring, opposite Historic Cold Spring Village, was built in 1823 and is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Its cemetery is the resting place for many early County residents. 780 Seashore Road, Cold Spring
28. Historic Cold Spring Village captures Cape May in the 1840's. This shaded, 30-acre, recreated farm community boasts nearly 25 structures from the 18th and 19th Centuries, moved here from their original sites throughout the County. 720 Route 9, three miles north of Cape May City. The Village is also home to an organic farm complete with a horse, chicken, sheep and more! In addition to the craft buildings, visitors will find the Country Store, Bakery, Ice Cream Parlor and Cold Spring Grange Restaurant. The Welcome Center, located at the Route 9 entrance of Historic Cold Spring Village is a good starting point for the visitor.
29. The Cape May County Airport, formerly a US Naval Air Station, built during WWII, is operated by the County as a general aviation airport. The airport is active year 'round, offering food, fuel, tie downs, and events such as Fly-Ins and Vintage airplane shows. A World War II hangar serves as the site for the Aviation Museum containing over 15 airplanes and helicopters, exhibits, displays etc. beginning with WWII though present day. Museum is open 7 days, 609-886-8787.
30. Congress Hall was a favorite presidential retreat. Five United States presidents enjoyed Cape May and the hospitality at Congress Hall: Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Ulysses Grant, Chester Arthur and Benjamin Harrison. Their visits started more than 150 years ago when Cape May was the nation’s foremost seaside resort.