Posted on: March 3rd, 2014 by Rezstream Design
On Friday, January 24, I packed my bags to head north to stay at my daughter’s house in Audubon, NJ. It was much easier to leave from there instead of Cape May for a seminar that I was scheduled to attend in Philadelphia on Saturday, January 25. I didn’t have an alarm clock so I used my cell phone as a replacement. This is something I normally wouldn’t do since I usually turn my cell phone off every night. As luck would have it the cell phone rang at 5:29 a.m. Saturday morning and I saw that it was a toll free number so I thought to myself, “I can’t believe a telemarketer would call this early,” so I let the call go to voice mail.
I decided I should listen to the message, “Hello this is Schuler Security and we are reporting a fire alarm at the Bedford Inn.” My heart started racing as I quickly called 911. They transferred me to the Cape May dispatcher where I proceeded to tell him that I was the owner of the Bedford Inn and that I had just received a call from the monitoring station to report a fire. He said to hold on as he was just getting ready to send out the fire department. I could hear the radio transmission in the background, “We just arrived on scene and there is smoke in the building.”
My heart sank. The dispatcher again told me to hold on as he told the fireman that the owner was on the phone. After a slight pause the dispatcher then said, “Oh, they found the fire (pause) they got it out.”
I told the dispatcher I was about an hour and a half away and would get there as soon as possible. I quickly picked up the phone to call my brother to see if he would go down to Cape May with me to help with any issues the fire may have caused. He asked me if the property was secure and I said I guess so. I decided to call the dispatcher back to see if the house had been secured. I asked him and his reply after a short pause and sigh was, “They are still fighting the fire.”
Now totally shaken up I picked up my brother, gathered some tools, and headed south. As we were about halfway there my phone rang and I answered to one of my guests saying how sorry they were about the Bedford.
Puzzled, I asked , “what do you mean?”
My guest said, “The Bedford was on fire.”
I responded, “how do you know that?”
“It was on the news.”
“Are you watching it now?”
“Do you see flames?”
“No just a bunch of firemen going in and out of the building.”
This continued so many times that I had to give my brother the phone to handle all of the calls. At this time we still didn’t know what to think. As we pulled up in front of the Inn it appeared that everyone had left. We both said well it doesn’t look that bad. The building is still intact.
We started to walk around the side where we noticed the charred exterior with some missing windows. As we entered the back door the strong smell of burnt wood hit us like a ton of bricks. We walked towards the front of the Inn by the boiler room. It was a charred mess. As we went through the next door and we looked into the dining room my heart sank. We both looked at each other and my brother said something like, “I think it’s more than just a little fix up.” (If you ever saw JAWS a similar line would have been, “I think we need a bigger boat!”).
As I walked into the dining room all the emotions that were building up all of a sudden took over. We went upstairs and as I looked through the open walls of bathrooms that were no longer there I couldn’t hold it back anymore. The devastation was more than I could take.
After seeing the rest of the damage on the third floor the fire company came back from another call. As I looked around I was not only amazed at the amount of damage but I also noticed what the fire fighters had done during the blaze: They actually moved some of the antiques and covered them with tarps. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was a volunteer firefighter many years ago so I have an idea what goes on. The fact that they would take time to move and cover up things with tarps was so amazing to me. You see, they realize that this building and its furniture is not just a building and furniture that you can replace. Don’t get me wrong, no one was hurt, and that is what it is all about. But these things are pieces of history. You can rebuild but you can’t make the rebuilt part 130 years old.
The firefighters did an awesome job saving a little piece of Cape May history in the process. I can’t say enough about the job they did. My hat’s off to them.
I would also like to thank all of my friends who came over to offer whatever help they could. The calls, text messages, emails, thoughts and prayers from everyone have been overwhelming. This is not only my loss but their loss. A lot of memories have been made while staying at the Bedford. Each person that has stayed at the Inn is a part of her great history. This 130 year-old building could have been gone if not for the fearless firefighters who worked to preserve this wonderful piece of Cape May history. As bad as it is – it could have been worse.
My plans are to rebuild the damaged parts in a way that would be fitting for this magnificent building. To restore her to the pre-fire condition freshening up as we go so that she can continue to make memories by the sea for all who will roam her halls again. Please continue to come back and watch the progress as we go forward. I thank God that no one was seriously hurt, that the damage devastating as it was, was held to a minimum and that she will live to see another day. Thank you and I look forward to serving you again!
Posted on: March 16th, 2013 by Archie Kirk
Did you know the Bedford Inn was built in 1883. In 1870 a wealthy stockbroker from Philadelphia, named Joseph Page, came to Cape May, NJ in 1870. He purchased 801 Stockton Ave along with the lot that the Bedford Inn now sits upon. In 1881, while he was doing renovations to 801 Stockton Ave, he had the Bedford Inn constructed as what they called a side-by-side “Mother-Daughter twin”. It was constructed for the use of his many children and their families. He was also one of the first people in Cape May, NJ to rent a property out at this seaside resort. The newspaper of the time reported that this twin cottage was built with the most modern of conveniences of the time, heat, running hot and cold water and of course water closets which were connected to the main sewer. At the time, construction of the Bedford cost around $7000.
After Joseph F. Page Sr. died in 1896, the Bedford passed into possession of his children. One of his sons, Edward Delano Page, was a regular summer resident of Cape May, NJ till his death in 1921. Edward was also a successful stockbroker who was an avid yachts-men. He participated in yacht races not only in Cape May, NJ, but up and down the east coast. Besides being a member of the Corinthian and Rittenhouse Yacht Clubs, he was also a very active member of the elite First City Troop of the same city. Annie C. Page, Edward’s wife, took ownership of the homes (805 Stockton and 807 Stockton) when Edward passed away in 1921. In 1922, Annie Page, transferred ownership to Miriam L. Baer (Eastern Half) and Elsie N. Aiken (Western Half).
Commercial use of the house began, first as rooming houses and then later as small vacation apartments. The large building on Stockton Avenue became known throughout Cape May as a place with “clean, comfortable and quiet vacation rentals” and was called The Chelsea. Overlooking the ocean only 300 feet away, it was and ideal location for vacationers.
In the following years the building suffered under the brief tenures of many different owners on both sides of the building. In 1966 two couples came from Indiana, Mr and Mrs Ford and Mr and Mrs Bedsworth, and by combining their names came up with the Bedford Inn. In one of those odd coincidences and unbeknown-st to either couple, there had previously been a different building in the same block of Stockton Avenue known as Bedford Inn.
The Fords and Bedsworths opened up the walls by creating archways on the first two floors and a doorway at the top of the third floor stairs. Rooms and hallways were partitioned and the house was divided into six apartments for the purposes of short term rentals. After just one summer the Bedsworths returned to Indiana and the Ford family continued to rent the apartments each summer until the autumn of 1975 when they sold it to the Schmucker family. The Schmuckers had already owned a business on Stockton Ave, the Sand Castle Guest House, which was subsequently sold in 1982. In 1999, Cindy’s son James stepped in and helped his mother run the inn. They were joined by Cindy’s other son, Kurt, in 2004.
Cindy ran the inn for almost 30 years until 2005 when Archie and Stephanie Kirk purchased the Bedford. Renovating each year adding the elegant chandeliers, the stunning murals in the dining room painted by James McLaughlin and refinishing the beautiful hardwood floors made with NJ yellow pine. Now, Archie continues to welcome guests to the Bedford Inn as the innkeeper and host creating that “welcome home” atmosphere that long time guests keep coming back to. Whatever would the Page family think???
Posted on: February 28th, 2013 by Archie Kirk
One of the greatest things about running a Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, NJ is the people you get to meet. This weekend I had the pleasure and honor of serving the Bruckenthal family. As most of you know Cape May, NJ is home of the Coast Gaurd Training base. Their son Petty Officer First Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal joined the Coast Guard on January 5th 1999. He served on the USCGC Point Wells, base out of Montauk, New York, prior to attending Damage Controlman “A” School. After school he was assigned to Coast Guard Station Neah Bay, in the Northwest corner of Washington, on the Makah Indian Reservation. His next assignment was at the Coast Guard Air Station in Miami, Florida with the Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET) South. Nate’s first tour to the Persian Gulf region was from April to June, 2003. His second deployment was in February, 2004 and he was scheduled to return that June. During both tours, his detachment, LEDET 403, was assigned to the USS Firebolt.
In 2004, Bruckenthal and two US Navy sailors, PO1 Michael J. Pernaselli of Monroe, NY and PO2 Christopher E. Watts . of Knoxville, TN were killed while intercepting a waterborne suicide attack on the Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal, off the coast of Iraq, in the Northern Persian Gulf.
For his sacrifice, Nathan Bruckenthal was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, the Purple Heart, and the Gobal War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
His father and step-mother along with other friends and relatives were in town for a special Dedication Ceremony of Bruckenthal Hall and Monument Unveiling preformed at the US Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, NJ. I had the proud honor of meeting some of his fellow servicemen that were with him that day. It is people like this that make me proud to be an American. It is people like this that make what I do every day worth it. I am truly honored to have served his family even though only for a couple of days. I have been touched by people who have paid a huge price for our freedom. It is a reminder for me how no one should take for granted the freedoms that we enjoy in this great nation of ours. May God bless America and this family who have touched my life in a special way. Thank you!
Posted on: February 22nd, 2013 by Archie Kirk
According to MAC’s Newsletter the 2013 Show House should be a smash hit. Ioanna Iliopulos and Tom Cataldo has offered their 2800 sq. ft. home, currently under construction right across Washington Street from the Physick Estate, for use as the Show House. This home is known as the Cavalier Cottage named after their pet Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. More than a dozen living spaces will feature the creativity of local and regional designers. The Show House will be open daily, and will be offering luncheon and tea packages in conjunction with the Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom located just across the street.
Posted on: September 27th, 2012 by Archie Kirk
This is the fourth year of the B&B for Vets program which started three years ago. Last year was my first year as a participating Bed and Breakfast. I believe it is very important to show our Veterans and their families how much they really mean to us. We live in the greatest country in the world with all it’s freedoms. This would never be if it weren’t for all the men and woman who made sacrifices so we can live in the greatest country in the world. From one Veteran to another, I salute you and I am proud to be a participant in the B&B for Vets program. There is nothing I can do to match what you have done and are continuing to do for us. I look forward to the opportunity to serve you with a free night stay on November 11, 2012. For more information please visithttp://www.betterwaytostay.com/current-promotions/bbs-for-vets/ to view participating B&B’s. If you would like to find out more information about the program and staying at the Bedford Inn in Cape May, NJ visit our web site at www.bedfordinn.com.
It was my pleasure and honor to serve each Veteran that stayed with us last year. I felt very blessed by the presence of each and every person that stayed with us. It was an awesome experience for me. I had guys from WWII as well as other period Veterans. I look forward to this year and being able to serve our true hero’s. God Bless America, the soldiers that serve, and their families for the sacrifices that they make for us.
The next time you see someone in uniform please make sure you thank them along with their family!
Posted on: September 18th, 2012 by Archie Kirk
As a Bed and Breakfast innkeeper/owner, one needs to maximize your resources by continually looking for ways to save money. Now I am sure you probably have a cell phone. I have found that the difference between carriers all comes down to service and availability. When your phone is as important a tool to you as it is for me; you need to know that it will work when called upon. The cost is definitely a factor but for me something that really bothers me is this contract thing. If your service, price and products are good; why do you need me to sign a contract. If you are the best of the best, I will not want to leave you. This requires your company to put up or shut up. I have recently come across a new company called Solavei. I love their concept or business model. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising they are using the best form of advertising- which is word of mouth. I know the business I get from my happy customers telling others of what a GREAT time they had in Cape May, NJ is priceless. You can’t get enough of that type of advertising. That is why I am very interested in Solavei and their program which includes unlimited voice, text and data on a nationwide 4G network for only $49 per month. I am saving over $75 per month. That is $900 a year. Even if you have an early termination fee the $900 more than makes up for that. My biggest concern is obviously coverage in Cape May, NJ. So far I haven’t had any trouble with service and no one knows I am using another service. Now the really cool part of this besides saving $900 a year, is the reward program that gives me money back. That’s what I call maximizing your resources.
Posted on: September 15th, 2011 by Archie Kirk
Cape May, New Jersey and it’s Bed and Breakfasts survived Hurricane Irene. As usual the weather folks got this one wrong. Don’t get me wrong, we complied and evacuated as requested but how many times can you cry wolf before one starts to ignore the warnings? I am thankful that we have a Cape May to come back to. If the weather folks were correct in their prediction, I think Cape May would have been wiped off the map; so I am glad they were wrong again. It was quite an interesting week for me. Starting with the calls to cancel reservations for the upcoming storm and at this point I didn’t even know anything about it’s pending arrival. It is very frustrating for innkeepers here in town as we are constantly struggling with the poor predictions of the weather people. I have to say as long as I have been here I think they have been wrong 100% of the time. Well, maybe 99.99% of the time. That doesn’t mean I would want anyone to put themselves in danger but when you are trying to survive in our business it really makes it difficult to overcome the poor predictions, even the routine everyday ones, when someone is telling folks it’s going to rain and it turns out to be a beautiful sunny day. I kid around all the time with people. I tell them, “It doesn’t rain in Cape May”. Now in reality it does but very infrequently and definitely not even close to the amount of times they predict it will. So the next time you want to know the weather in Cape May just call me and I’ll stick my head out the window and give you a much more accurate assessment of the current conditions here in Cape May. LOL
Posted on: May 16th, 2011 by Archie Kirk
Yesterday I decided to have lunch at Zoe’s Beachfront Eatery located at 715 Beach Ave. I was in the mood for something different when I came across the OOEY GOOEY GRILLED CHEESE on Texas Toast and loaded with cheese, grilled onions, tomatoes and bacon. (I left the bacon out) OMG was this sandwich unbelievably good. The name definitely describes this glorious piece of work and it is definitely one of my favorites. Enjoy!!
Posted on: March 10th, 2011 by Archie Kirk
Cape May’s Bed & Breakfasts will be hosting two unique weekends featuring two things the area is now famous for: Wine and Ghosts. America’s oldest seaside resort is now catering to the wine loving and ghost hunting crowds. Nine B&Bs have teamed up with author and medium Craig McManus, Cape May’s resident ghost expert, to create two spirited weekends featuring a winery tour, a walking ghost tour, and a “Wine & SPIRITS” dinner, lecture, and tasting. Guests will have the opportunity to sharpen their palates and open their minds during these one-of-a-kind weekend events on April 1-2 and April 15-16, 2011.
Long known for its vintage architecture, wine lovers are discovering another “vintage” part of Cape May. The great vineyard sites and the excellent wines being produced on the peninsula are starting to attract the attention of oenophiles near and far. For wine enthusiasts who also love the idea of haunted houses, Cape May is the best of both worlds. It is now considered a paranormal hotspot, and many of the event’s B&Bs have ghosts of their very own. Explore the sunny vineyards by day and the dark, haunted streets by night. Wine & SPIRITS offers cork-popping, heart-stopping, educational weekends of fun in the sun, and bumps in the night!
A meet and greet and ghost tour will be hosted by Craig McManus on Friday night. The one-hour walking tour will highlight some of the more interesting haunts featured in his four Ghosts of Cape May books. On Saturday afternoon, the group will visit one of Cape May’s wineries for a tour and tasting, returning to the Mad Batter Saturday evening for dinner. After dinner, McManus, a 30-year veteran of the wine business will present “Wine & SPIRITS”, a lecture and tasting that combines his two passions, wine and ghosts. McManus calls it “where BOOs meet booze.”
Posted on: September 23rd, 2010 by Archie Kirk
It’s getting close to Halloween, autumn arrives this week, and the seasons have already begun to change. Craig McManus the Cape May Ghost writer has some great events lined up this October in Cape May, NJ. Craig will be doing a ghost tour and book signing on Saturday, October 9th between 7 and 10 PM at Kaleidoscope. What used to be “main street”, from Victorian days until the early 1970′s, is now a pedestrian mall with shops, stores and restaurants. After his book signing 7 – 8:30 PM he will be leading the group on a private tour of the mall. He will share with the group the many paranormal activities he has uncovered.