Gingerbread trim, towering turrets and a wraparound porch enclosed with decorative railings give a storybook appearance to the Angel of the Sea B&B. Located along New Jersey’s southern peninsula, the soft sand dunes, swaying seagrass and rolling waves of the Atlantic lend a peaceful presence to this elegant Victorian inn. The interior features luxury wallpaper, working gas fireplaces, antique furnishings, clawfoot tubs and tile showers.

Cape May, considered America’s oldest seaside resort, has been welcoming vacationers since the 18th century. Its history, however, dates to its founding in 1629.

The whole city is a National Historic Landmark and features Victorian architecture, and possibly a ghost or two, throughout its charming streets and coastal landscape.

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History of Angel of the Sea

An historic postcard of Angel of the SeaThe Angel of the Sea stores a long history within its lavish walls and antique-filled spaces. The home was built in 1850 as a summer cottage for Philadelphia chemist William Weightman Sr. It opened its doors as a B&B in 1990. Let’s take a look at how it got there and who might still be around.

Using its angelic name as inspiration, or perhaps its powers of apparition, the inn has managed to float closer to the sea throughout its lifetime. It originally stood at Franklin and Washington streets. In 1881, Weightman decided that he wanted an ocean view, so as any sane person would do, he had it moved to the corner of Ocean and Beach Avenue.

As the story goes, the large house was way too big to move in one piece. They cut it in half with the plan to reconnect it after the move, which was accomplished by mules and horses pulling the pieces on logs. As luck would have it, they weren’t able to push the pieces back together, so they simply connected the house with facades. The building is like that to this day.

The structure was in the Weightman family until 1905. For about 50 years, it was called the Weightman Cottage and saw life as a guest house, a hotel, and a restaurant. In 1962, the Great Atlantic Storm, which became known as the Ash Wednesday Storm, destroyed a large portion of the town. The inn received some damage, but it was not a complete loss. However, as a result, the two houses almost saw the destruction. Seeing the potential, Reverend Carl McIntire spared the structure and moved it, by the more modern method of flatbed trucks, to its current location on Trenton Avenue.

From 1962 to the early ‘80s, the building was used as a dormitory for Shelton College and as boarding for nearby inn employees. By 1981, the many years of neglect and vandalism had deemed the buildings uninhabitable.

In 1989, John and Barbara Girton saw promise in the good bones of the building and began renovating. Work took place around the clock. Cabinets were made out of refurbished wood pieces white gingerbread trim, window details, and brackets were all re-created to bring back the Victorian charm of yesteryear. The $3.5 million renovations were complete in 1990. The Girton’s sold the inn in 1995 to their daughter, Lorie Whissell, who ran it for 20 years. The current owners, Theresa and Ron Stanton purchased it in 2015.

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Angel of the Sea Haunted History

Staff at the inn have reported paranormal activity and sightings of at least four ghosts. A young woman, whose mother was a caretaker and father a sea captain, can be seen looking out to sea. Another apparent paranormal visitor is someone whose death was the result of tuberculosis. The third plays tricks on staff. On one occasion, a guest in room 17 said the alarm was going off at 2:30 in the morning. It stopped when somebody checked on it. Other unexplained noises include creaking on the stairs, a shaking bed, and the sound of coughing (which could be attributed to the TB death).

During the time the inn was used for students, a young girl had forgotten her key and was locked out of her room. Since she was running late, she decided to save time by climbing out of an open window instead of going back downstairs. This decision proved fatal, as she was unable to properly open her own window and ended up falling to her death.

It’s not known exactly which room this was, but it was either the second or third floor of the second building. Paranormal activity in that area includes footsteps, flickering lights, and moving objects.

The inn does not host ghost-specific tours. Complimentary self-guided tours of public areas are available during the day between 11:30 and 4:00. Guided 30-minute tours are available during the day, and tickets can be purchased from the Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC) either online or on-site.

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Visiting The Angel of the Sea Bed and Breakfast

Located footsteps from the beach, the inn has 27 rooms with private baths. You can book in the off-season for $99 to $179. Book in-season from $189 to $588, depending on the room type. Accommodation types include fireside king, honeymoon king, ocean-view queen, and queen balcony with garden or oceanfront views.

Inn visitors have use of beach cruiser bicycles, beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels. Enjoy relaxed B&B hospitality with morning breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening wine and cheese pairings while relaxing on the spacious wraparound porch.   

Other local attractions include an 1859 lighthouse, Sunset Beach, the 1927 Historical Museum, and a local zoo. History buffs will want to check out Historic Cold Spring Village. This open-air living history museum depicts a South Jersey farming village in the 1850s. The 22-acre site has more than 20 restored buildings and costumed actors who recreate the daily life, trades, and skills of the 19th century.

Ghost Tours Nearby

MAC offers historic ghost tours of the town via trolley and on foot most weekends and select weekdays. Tours include:

Ghosts of the Lighthouse Trolley Tour for $30 ($20 for kids ages 3-12)
Spirits and Victorian Oddities Trolley Tour for $20 ($15 kids ages 3-12)
Graveyards, Ghosts, and Mansion Combo Tour for $40

Locations on these historic tours include haunted hotels such as the Emlen Physick Estate, the Hotel Macomber, and the Washington Inn as well as the Cape May Lighthouse, several restaurants, and other haunted places.

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5 Trenton Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204, United States