August 14, 2016

Victorian Houses in Cape May

During our stay in Wildwood, my family went to Cape May to enjoy some shopping as well as admire the Victorian houses on the streets. Like I have previously mentioned in my "Day Trip to Hudson Valley" post, touring old homes is one of my favorite hobbies so getting to observe some Victorian houses from the outside is just as pleasurable. 

As we drove down the backstreets, we would often slow down to admire the unique and intricate architecture. There were so many old cottages that I couldn't resist capturing on my camera...
When it came to porch design, this was my favorite!
This was my favorite cottage!
I was also able to spot a "widow's walk" which is a railed rooftop platform commonly found on 19th-century coastal houses.
A widow's walk
As a delightful surprise, I successfully located the Emlen Physick Estate - the only Victorian House available year-round for inside tours! 
Compared to the smaller cottages, this house was very large with several acres all around. Unlike other home tours my family has previously taken, the museum staff were dispersed throughout many of the rooms, ready to describe to us how each room might have been used. They would also enthusiastically point out the confusing design techniques. As one of the staff had mentioned, the interior design of the Victorian Era was not ill-favored towards meshing completely different patterns together.
I suppose that is why the simple and sometimes plain contemporary theme (which is the total opposite of Victorian design) eventually gained momentum. 

Some of the things I admired while perusing the house included one of the bedrooms, an old piano imported from Philadelphia and the lace curtains in the sitting room.
A dainty bed to rest on after a day at the beach!
Apparently there's a difference between "cyclopedia" and "encyclopedia" - click here for a good article I found explaining the difference!
While taking a brief glimpse of the upstairs bathroom, I noticed there was a natural sea sponge in the bathtub. It reminded me of the time I walked into a bath and beauty store that sold sea sponges. Before then, I had never known of a more-natural alternative to exfoliating!
It seems that sea sponges came before exfoliating bath sponges which reminds me of the many 19th century products and appliances that were natural-based and non-synthetic. I know this is partly due to how obtaining cheaper, more conventional products was not readily available back then, but I still appreciate how much simpler the lifestyle of the past century must have been. 
In this case, instead of using the harsher, synthetic bath sponge produced from the factory, back then, people would use the softer-pored sea sponge produced from the sea! 
The woman in the portrait was the owner's mother
Concerning the background of the house, the owner who was Dr. Emlen Physick had always wanted to own an estate in Cape May. His father agreed to give him enough money to do so with the only condition being that he had to go to medical school. So Emlen did what was required, and after finishing medical school, he moved to Cape May, bought a handsome estate and dropped all of his medical knowledge to become a farmer. An intriguing story, is it not? It shows how everyone has their own interests and hobbies, no matter how unappealing they may be to others. At least, he finally got to be happy and grow his own food while living near the coast! 

After touring the estate and driving back to our hotel room, we saw less and less of the Victorian houses as more of the modern-looking houses took precedence. 
Though I find it somewhat disappointing how rare victorian and colonial architecture is to spot nowadays, (especially when I overheard a carriage tour guide mention how new homes in Cape May are no longer being designed to look Victorian) I suppose that gives every Victorian cottage it's own "diamond-in-the-rough" feel. Not to mention, I do like having a mixture of Victorian and contemporary themes whenever I redecorate my room so it's nice to have the best of both worlds!

I hope you enjoyed getting to see some of the Victorian houses we drove by in Cape May, along with glimpses of the interior in the Emlen Physick Estate. There is so much to do and see in Cape May so I definitely recommend it as an ideal and fun summer vacation near the shore! 



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