Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's All About The Gingerbread

If you've ever had a craving for gingerbread, then Cape May is for you. You can have it with whipped cream, lemon curd, chocolate sauce, or almost any way you desire. In fact, when you're done with Cape May, you might never want to have gingerbread again. This town is an architecture-lover's delight. Overwhelmingly Victorian, but bits of art deco . . .

Craftsman . . .

and even what they call "stick" style abound

Street after street of the most lovingly cared-for homes begin to boggle your mind after a couple of rides around the block. It takes a lot of money to own a home in Cape May. Many of the homes are massive structures which have been turned into bed and breakfasts, inns, or boarding houses just to pay the upkeep. The prime-week summer rates are steep. The Historic Preservation Society here is unrelenting and even the most unassuming little cottage has to adhere to strict guidelines in any rehab or restoration. They must use original materials whenever possible, forget new composites that might be easier to maintain in a salt-air environment. You must research structure, color, dimension, landscaping, every aspect of what might have once existed before you will be allowed to pick up a hammer. If, God forbid, you want to tear down your ramshackle bungalow and build a new duplex or something that you could actually make some money from, you will face formidable opposition in the stone-faced ladies of the Society who aren't afraid of any lawyer you can pit against them. It's a lovely place to visit, but a daunting place to own a home. Proceed at your own risk. The payoff, of course, is that many structures that would have been torn down years ago, are still in existence for the benefit of all to feast their eyes upon.

The attention to detail is amazing, and it just goes on and on.

Look at the dear little porch on this turret; notice the trim underneath it.

Cape May is definitely worth a few days of your time. My advice would be to come off season so you can walk or drive slowly and take it all in. When it fills up for the summer season, gawking will be strictly curtailed.

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