In the fall of 1894, construction began on a brand-new 60-room boarding house at the foot of Ocean Street – one of Cape May’s most delightful locations. Leading the charge were William H. and C.S. Church, contractor/builders of West Cape May, whose vision for the upscale boarding house included a four-story building with a French roof, roomy porches offering unobstructed views, and modern amenities. Gas lights and an electric ball system would illuminate the hallways and rooms, and best of all, the addition of steam heat throughout the building would enable Church to remain open year-round.
The new boarding house, dubbed The Colonial, provided a popular option for vacationers traveling from Philadelphia and beyond, quickly requiring the addition of a Southern Wing. After expanding its capacity, The Colonial entertained up to 135 guests a night at the height of the summer season. The Colonial offered exceptional hospitality and an unparalleled destination for relaxation for many years under the management of William H. Church and throughout the 1930s-1960s as future owners carried on his legacy.
In the 1960s or 70s, The Colonial became known as The Inn of Cape May, and the proprietors built the fifth floor. Under the management of Mr. Fite, an “attractive lawn and a swimming pool” added enhanced appeal for guests. On December 29, 1970, 380 acres and 600 buildings, including The Inn of Cape May, were added to the National Register of Historic Districts. This recognition and generational loyalties to the well-loved establishment have ensured that The Inn of Cape May is consistently one of the island’s most recognized historic beachfront destinations.
After a brief closure over the winter of 2021-2022, The Inn of Cape May debuted an updated aesthetic complete with refreshed rooms, refurbished common areas, and eclectic new dining and drinking destinations. As was the Church’s original intent, the seaside hotel continues to offer a classic beach vacation made more enjoyable by plush, modern amenities and experiences in a relaxed yet refined atmosphere.