On May 23, 2015, the Bedford Inn of Cape May, NJ celebrated its Grand Re-Opening. There was lots of food, fun, and excitement. Mayor Ed Mahaney and Michael Zuckerman, Director of Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities, were on hand to say a few words and to participate in the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Exit Zero’s, Aleksey Moryakov, stopped by to take some pictures of the occasion. Craig McManus, Cape May’s Ghost Writer, even made an appearance. After all the festivities were pretty much done I received a call from Drew Smith, South Jersey Bureau Reporter for Channel 10 NBC News. Drew and his cameraman stopped by to do an interview with me. What an awesome job! CLICK HERE NOW to view the video as presented by Drew Smith.
Here it is, Thanksgiving 2014. As I got a chance to spend the day with my family, I started to reflect on this past year. Twelve months ago I was going through some rough times thinking that this year could go down as the worst year of my life. I also realized that I had a choice to make. Go down the path of despair or continue on and make a bad situation as good as I could. I chose the latter. First if it wasn’t for my faith in God and the continued support from all my friends and family I don’t think I would be writing this blog today. I realized that life is a choice. Things happen that seem like we have no control over anything but we do. We have a choice. That choice will determine which path of life we go down. Once you make that choice, in my opinion, the only way to get through it is by faith. So I am so thankful for all of the support and prayers that have come my way. Without them, this time would have been WAY more trying than it was and may have turned out much differently.
That brings me to my next point which is – I see light at the end of the tunnel. Although we have hit a huge bump in the road, that could change the outcome, I do see light. The inn is finally coming together very nicely. All the major construction is done. We are now in the final phases of the rebuilding process. There are still some minor task to be completed such as hardware on doors, trim work and other odds and ends. I have to say that Joe Schleifer Jr of Schleifer Construction in Whippany, NJ has gone above and beyond to make the Bedford Inn as nice as it was and even nicer. He and his crew have stepped up to the plate and their attention to detail will have you staring in amazement when you see the final product. I am very excited about the possibility of reopening on Valentine’s Weekend 2015. They are working very hard to make that happen. The painters are moving along completing most of the ceilings and trim throughout the inn. The task of picking out colors was overwhelming. It is one thing to do a couple of rooms at one time but the whole inn – well that was quite a task. This Monday, December 1st, scheduling has the carpet and floors being installed. It has been so nice having heat and electric since the temperatures have started to drop significantly. I am starting to review the possibility of having some of the appliances scheduled to be returned from storage along with some of the other contents that were removed. The muralist is scheduled to start this coming week or maybe next week depending on the progress of everything else that is currently scheduled. So if all goes well on Monday, I will start the process of updating my booking engine, updating the web site and getting all the final tasks needed to start taking reservations again. I won’t be able to post pictures of rooms as we do have a ways to go for their completion but I hope to have preliminary information up for the reservation process to begin. Again, I would like to thank God for giving me the strength to hang in there and for giving me such a great support system with all my friends and relatives. I couldn’t be doing this without you. I can’t wait to be welcoming you back to the Bedfod Inn of Cape May, NJ again!
Hello from the Bedford in Cape May, NJ. It has been some time since my last update in May. A lot has happened; some good and some not so good. The electrician came, applied for permits and new service was installed within a couple of days. This allowed the electric company to re-install the electric meters. The electricians were able to isolate approximately 10 circuits which allowed us to have limited electric for the builder’s crew to work.
Also, a number of our antiques have been coming back from the restoration and clean-up process! This has been handled by the Antique Door Knob in West Cape May. All I can say is OMG. They are doing an amazing job: the pieces that were in ground zero now look absolutely stunning. I’ve added some before and after pictures to our Facebook fan page.
On Monday, June 23, the builder’s crew showed up to begin clean-up and demolition. First they had to clean out the last of the debris left by the fire. Samples of the plaster and wood molding were taken so they could be reproduced. Then, they covered the hardwood floors and kitchen floors to protect them from further damage. They also had to remove the front door, which was damaged during the fire, and took it to their shop for the restoration process.
A dumpster was delivered and after a second cleanup the demolition process began. They removed the plaster walls and ceiling in the dining room, Robert’s Room (7), Francis’ Room (8), the damaged area of the Joseph Page Suite on the third floor (10) and my office on the first floor, along with other damaged places throughout the building. Once the walls were opened an inspection was made to evaluate other damages that may have occurred, but were not visible up to that point. This revealed more fire, smoke and water damage. More demolition, clean up and the re-framing process began. As the days past, support walls were built to support the structure, new steel and laminate beams were installed and new walls were framed.
As this was happening, a crew for the painting contractor came and started to strip the wall coverings located throughout the inn for cleaning, sealing and installation of new wall coverings. Carpets were removed and all the exposed wood in the walls and ceiling had to be sealed with a KILZ sealer. This is to block any smoke odors. Again, as the days and weeks past, the shape of the new walls started to look like a structure again.They sprayed inside the building with something that aides in eliminating any remaining smoke odor.
It was now time for the plumber to rough in the plumbing and heating lines and the electrician to rough in the electric lines. The plumbers began the arduous task of figuring out where all the pipes, that were cut in order to remove the hot water heater and boiler, led to. Once they figured that out they started installing new hot and cold water lines along with the drains for the bathrooms. The electricians were hard at work running all the new wire for the hardwired smoke detectors and the new receptacles and junction boxes for the lights and switches. As the Bedford was buzzing like an active bee hive, I was getting a sun tan painting the outside of the inn. The first floor outside porch has been repainted except for the front steps and doors where a lot of activities are still taking place. I am now ready to tackle the second floor outside porch.
Things appeared to be going smoothly until this past Thursday, September 11th. The plumbers were ready to turn the water back on and test the water lines. It didn’t take long before water was pouring out of the ceilings and walls from the leaks caused by frozen pipes. Well, it was zero degrees the day of the fire. Even though we took precautions of draining all the water lines and boilers on the day of the fire; it was so cold that some of the pipes were probably already frozen by the time we started to secure the building. As I was pouring antifreeze into all the toilets and sinks, the antifreeze was simply leaking out all over the floor from pipes that had already broken. As the plumbers proceeded to locate the leaks and open up more walls and ceilings, they discovered that the fire must have traveled in the bays located between the first floor ceiling and the second floor all the way across the building to the east side of the inn. On Friday, September 12th, I had a meeting with the General Contractor and the adjuster from the insurance company. After they went through and accessed the new damage it was determined that the new completion date would probably be February or March of 2015. Well, sometimes it just seems like we take one step forward only to take two steps backward.
All of this has been quite stressful. But between my faith and all the support that you all have given me, the Bedford and I will continue on! I would like to thank each and every person that stopped by during the last few months to say hello and offer their support. Not only was it good to see you but it lifted my spirits and put a smile on my face. Thank you!
VERY LAST MINUTE UPDATE: As of this post it appears that we have cold water working throughout the inn without leaks. YEAH!
Houston, we have a problem. It seems the Bedford Inn has sustained significant damage to its structure, but due to the fire department’s quick response, she will live to see another day! All building contents have been removed as part of getting ready for the next phase of this operation. They are now in the more-than-capable hands of the Antique Doorknob. It’s now time for reconstruction to bring this magnificent piece of architecture back to its original beauty!
Our builder has submitted the applications for his permits. It sounds like this will take approximately three weeks to process. Once everything is approved and ready to go, the reconstruction can begin. According to the builder, it will take approximately 5 months to complete after this process actually starts. (This, of course, is provided the Klingons don’t attack the Cape May construction office.) We hope for the best but are prepared just in case things don’t go as planned.
During this phase Captain Kirk is expected to keep the property’s exterior in top shape—maybe even finish painting the side that was opposite the fire. Also, some desperately needed R&R is in the schedule. If you happen to be in town, make sure you hail him on his phone—you just might catch him on the beach or the Enterprise (his boat), going where no innkeeper has gone before.
Well, we’re now in April, and the inn is still like it was the day after the fire. I finally feel like we might be making some progress. There are a few parts to the claims process with the insurance company, but we’re making progress.
The first is the antiques in the inn. They brought an appraiser in to assess the damage of the antiques and place a value on each piece; whether it was to be cleaned, deodorized and polished, or to be repaired and refinished, or replaced. Then a builder, who represents the insurance company, came in to assess the building damage. His report took much longer to complete due to the severity of the damage. There was also an architect brought in to draw plans as it related to the damage. I have those reports and can continue to move through this process.
So what happens now? Well, all of the antiques will be taken out of the inn first. I am expecting (LOL) that this will happen by the end of the week. When this happens, they will be put in storage and each piece will be taken in for cleaning, deodorizing, and repairing if necessary. Those completed pieces will be put back in storage for holding until all the other work is completed.
Next, another company that specializes in fire cleanup will come in and tag, catalog and assess the outcome of each item left. It will be cleaned, repaired, or replaced depending on the assessment of the item and then either discarded or put in storage. During this time, permits and all the preparations in getting ready for construction will be taking place. My expectation is that this could be a lengthy process. Once all of the appropriate procedures have been taken, construction will begin. I hope!
I am being told that the time frame for the builder is about five months from the time construction starts. This has been a long and unsettling process. Each day I hope that something will get accomplished but it feels like I’m watching paint dry. Thank God for my friends and family that have gone way above and beyond to help make the stress of this more manageable.
I am looking forward to the time when all of this work is done and I can answer the doorbell and say, “Welcome to the Bedford Inn.”
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!
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???
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!
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.
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!