Here is What You Should Know About The Congress House Located in Cape May

When you think about the city called Cape May, the one thing that is entirely worth mentioning is the Congress Hall. It is located in the state of New Jersey, and it is situated in the Cape May area. It consists of a town square verged on the south, near the Sea Shore Road, and on the east side, it is close to the Washington Road Shopping district. It contributes to the structure of the Cape May National District.

This structure in this coastal town was developed in 1816 and it served as lodging (entirely from wood) for visitors who chose to visit the new retreat built on the coastline of this town. From the moment it was built, the landlord, Thomas H. Hughes, commonly named this building “The Big House”. However, there was some commotion between the natives, since they thought it was too huge to be effective, hence, they considered building the hall a big mistake.

Throughout 1828, Hughes was chosen as a member of the Place of Delegates and that is when he decided to change the title from “The Big House”, to “Congress Hall Carepe May”. Unfortunately, it caught fire in 1878, but luckily for a lot of guests, the owners managed to entirely reconstruct the structure.


A wide range of United States Presidents – such as Franklin Puncture, Benjamin Harrison, and James Buchanan – visited and stayed at the Congress House. Benjamin Harrison even decided to make this building his official, Summer White House. So, because it was so popular among people, it slowly, but surely turned into a state of business for some time, every year.

John Philip Sousa frequently visited the Congress Hall in Cape May. Together with the United States Marine Band, they came up with an idea to create a March for the building. They used to practice in the garden of this building in the middle of 1882.

Then the world was in the 20th century, and that is when the town’s seafront drastically weakened. And, the town was also shocked to find out that yet another fire broke out, however, this time it damaged the corridors in the hotel. During this time, Carl McIntire decided to buy a part of the hotel and, he made it a part of the Bible Conference which was held in this city.

Another interesting thing is that McIntire managed to keep the entire estate of the inn safe during the days where various Victorian-time coastal inns were wrecked. This happened when the land the inns occupied were highly estimated. As time passed by, there was a significant decline in the popularity of the Bible Conference, and with that, the hotel went through another hardship.

Source: Wikipedia

Years later, the people of Cape May were quite happy when the property was completely rebuilt and redesigned by Curtis Bashaw, who was the grandson of Carl McIntire. He started rebuilding the building in 1995, and it was finished seven years later, in 2002. Three (now, almost four years ago), the Congress Hall was able to celebrate its Bicentennial which marked two hundred years as the first seaside resort in the United States.

It is located in the center of the Victorian Cape May, and it is an amazing place for spending your summer vacation. Now, this building is already deep in its 3rd century, it features simple tours of the past combined with modern things we love nowadays. You can choose whatever season you want, you will be happy and delighted by the wide range of options – and, all of them will easily occupy you for several days. You can choose to relax in your private beach tent, you might lounge by the poolside, or, perhaps you want to sit on your terrace in a rocking chair and enjoy the nature of the Grand Lawn.

As previously mentioned, this hotel has lasted more than 3 centuries and it has offered its hospitality, friendship, and love to both locals and foreign visitors. It started humbly and simple, as a summer home to Presidents and visitors – but, we should not forget that it is one of the earliest coastal resorts in the United States.

Its former owner Hughes did refer to his hotel as “The Big House”, but the people living in this town in New Jersey had completely different ideas. Especially since they were still convinced that the property is too big to be successful, they gave the property the nickname “Tommy’s Folly”.

Source: Extraordinary Stories

When it was still in its initial condition, it had one room downstairs that the owners decided to use as a dining room – which served all the hotel guests. The visitors usually stayed in simply-arranged quarters on the two floors above. People who stayed at the place could see bare walls and woodwork, and sometimes, the hotel did not have enough provisions for all guests.

However, although the conditions were not great, people still chose to stay there summer after summer, and the logging was never empty. Another interesting thing is that it was not named the “Congress Hall” always, it only got that name when one of its owners was elected to Congress.

According to the experts from, there are various attractions that you can see and visit near this location. These attractions include:

Source: Brooklyn Eagle
  1. Visiting the “Brown Room” which can offer an incredibly interesting nightlife to its guests and visitors.
  2. Going to Washington Street to buy some things for yourself or to buy something for your loved ones back home.
  3. If you are a regular theater visitor, then you can enjoy an amazing show performed by the Professional Equity Theater
  4. If you are a business person or if you love to make investments, Cape May’s Olive Oil industry might be the perfect place to start with.


As you can see, the history and backstory of this building in Cape May are amazing. And although they went through a lot of hardship, they still managed to stay on top! So, now that you know what you can do there, do not waste any more time, and start planning your trip to New Jersey.