Thursday, March 31, 2011

After Four Hour Hearing, Zoning Board Does Not Vote

AC Press Reports that No Vote Held Last Night, Hearing to Continue Next Week (most likely).

It's not over until the fat lady sings. And she ain't singing yet.

Zoning Board Votes on Beach Theatre Demolition Tonight

The town has long traded on Victoriana and gingerbread architecture to annually draw tens of thousands of history-loving tourists away from Shore towns that offer only sun and sand. But demolitions and development pressures in recent years have been eroding that special designation.

The Beach Theatre, which opened in 1950, is at the center of the latest tug-of-war between developers and preservationists.

Frank Theatres, based in Jupiter, Fla., bought the property in 1986 and operated it as a multiplex until 2006, when it announced that Cape May's last movie theater would be demolished and the property redeveloped.

A volunteer organization called the Beach Theatre Foundation formed five years ago to try to save the property, arguing that it characterizes the mid-20th-century development of the town as a Jersey Shore resort.

Few of the 2,500 historic landmarks designated by the National Park Service include entire towns; most places are cataloged only as individual sites or small districts within cities. Cape May's hard-won designation was bestowed in 1976, just as preservationists were beginning to salvage the extensive collection of Victorian structures from the wrecking ball.

The move spawned the largest bed-and-breakfast district in the country, while helping to preserve about 900 historic structures. Many of those had been slated to be torn down as part of an ill-fated urban renewal in the early 1970s.

Please read the whole article. And come out and let your voice be heard at the zoning board meeting tonight at 6:30 at City Hall, where it is expected that a final zoning board vote on Frank Investments' demolition request will be taken.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

80s Cape May Visits the Cape May Blog

I believe this Cape May poster dates to 1987 or so. The photo of the poster is a bit blurry and I apologize for that. But if you click on the photo, I think you'll enjoy the walk down memory lane. Among the places that only exist on this poster and in our memories you will find the Christian Admiral, Keltie's, the Huntington House, the gas station across the street from Vance's Bar, and Petroff's. Please click on the photo and see if you can find some memories I've missed. If you do, please note them in the not-used-enough comments section of this blog!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bayberry Blog

Bayberry Inn

The Bayberry Inn, another beautiful Cape May bed-n-breakfast, has a blog! Who knew? Check it out, perhaps if we visit they will start updating more often...

And in other news, don't forget about Thursday evening's Zoning Board meeting regarding the Beach Theatre. Make sure to show up and let your opinion be heard. You can read more about this important meeting here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cape May a Good Place for Father/Son Trips (of course!)

...and Cape May gets prominent mention. Read about it here. From the article:

One of the most riveting father and son adventures captured on paper was the deep sea fishing scene in Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream. It was a fictional account, to be sure, but real deep sea fishing is less than a tank of gas away at the Cape May, New Jersey docks. Some of my most relaxing and yet dynamic days were spent running out of the Cape May jetty, heading for a day of hooking blues and stripers. I was never disappointed. In and around Cape May over a dozen charter boat operators are sending out fishing parties every day. You can book a private charter (more expensive) or sign up for reasonably price “party boats”. Charters can be arranged for full or half days. Boat operators provide fishing gear and bait and crews on many private charters will even clean your catch and pack it for traveling. Most charter docks offer a place to scale, clean and filet your own. Just a few tips: If you might be prone to seasickness, take over-the-counter Draminine an hour before leaving the dock. Don’t wait until you’re on the water. Then it’s too late. And remember, it’s customary to tip the first mate.

A nice article, worth reading the whole thing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Important Beach Theatre Meeting 3/31 at City Hall - Be There!

According to this Cape May City Announcement, the Zoning Board of Adjustment meets this Thursday, March 31, at 6:30pm in City Hall to review "any and all matters deemed necessary for discussion" regarding Frank Investments' plans to destroy a piece of the City's history known as the Beach Theatre ... desire to get "the highest and best use" out of the Beach Theatre property by turning it into another condo.

I know many people, much more knowledgeable than I, consider this matter a fait accompli. But nothing is over until it's over. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

Of course not. If you're in favor of preserving a piece of history, then let your opinion be heard at the Zoning meeting this Thursday. If you're not in favor, then keep your opinion to yourself let your voice be heard, as well. Some who have argued against the preservationists say the preservationists are trampling on American values like property rights by fighting Frank Investments. I suggest that those who would try to silence the preservationists are trampling another American value, embodied in the First Amendment. Both of these values are quintessentially American.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Frank Investments Sues Cape May

Read about it here in the AC Press In the article, Bruce Frank of Frank Investments says he wonders why the public won't embrace Frank Investments' plan to put the property to its "highest and best use."

I wonder why Frank Investments won't sell the property for a reasonable price and move on.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Laelaps and the Jellyfish

photo by Brian Switek

Laelaps is the blog of a naturalist/palenontologist/recent graduate of Rutgers named Brian Switek. Although he blogged at that Laelaps address for quite a while (and I linked to him a few times), I believe he now blogs at Wired.Com. Every once in a while he features a Cape May nature photo -- like the photo above of a jellyfish in the surf in Cape May.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cape May Artist Rich Flanegan Worth a Look

Lobster House by Rich Flanegan

I always enjoy featuring Cape May artists like Rich Flanegan. This press release in the Herald gives you more information about this artist:

WEST CAPE MAY — West Cape May artist Rich Flanegan is one of the featured artists at the Cape May Artists Cooperative Gallery through April 8. The Gallery is located in the West End Garage, 484 West Perry St., Cape May. The Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Among the artists "living by the brush," who have set up small studios in garages, attics or other spaces throughout Cape May is Rich Flanegan. Rich and his wife Diane moved to West Cape May and set up a small studio shop in the front room of their home, in the 300 block of North Broadway where Flanegan conducts classes.

Flanegan paints and draws in various media, offering paintings of such landmarks as the Cape May Lighthouse. He specializes in house portraits and can paint an ocean that makes you feel like you could just dive right in.

An award-winning artist and an outstanding teacher, he was commissioned to create a two-panel mural depicting the historic aspects of West Cape May from gold beating to farming and the founding families. The mural is on display in West Cape May Borough Hall.

The Cape May Artists Cooperative Gallery is a group of 24 local artists who have joined together to showcase and sell their work as well as educate the public about their art forms. Call 609-770-8261 for information.

I am looking forward to checking out Rich's work at the West End Garage. You should, too!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A DC Birder in Cape May

Lighthouse at Dawn by John Beetham

The DC Birding Blog is the blog of John Beetham, a blogging birder -- or is that a birding blogger? -- who writes about New Jersey quite a bit. The above photo is one he took at the Point a few days ago, and he often takes great nature photos of the Cape May area. Recently he has featured hermit crabs, and piping plovers, among other great nature posts on his blog. Well worth your time. And to see older posts featuring the DC Birder,
click here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cape May Brewery Coming Soon

Cape May County will soon be home to a new micro-brewery, according to this article in the AC Press . And it's name? "Cape May Brewing Co." What a great idea -- I expect to see this business take off.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

They Say They'll Still Build it by Memorial Day 2012

According to this AC Press article, no contractor bid low enough (except for one who did so mistakenly) so as to award the new Convention Hall building job. Therefore, for the fourth time, the city will re-bid the job.

That picture above is one of the old plans for Convention Hall that I found on the City's website this morning. Not sure why the drawing would still be there since I believe that's an old plan.

Some St. Patrick's Day Free Advertising

Don't know if the powers-that-be will appreciate me giving free advertising, but hopefully today they'll make an exception. Today is St. Patrick's Day, of course. And if you're looking for an Irish item, you can't do better than All Irish Imports at 401 Lafayette Street. At All Irish Imports,

everything in the store is from Ireland. Shop online to select from their collection of Celtic design jewelry, Belleek porcelain, Waterford crystal, Irish Claddagh rings, hand-knit Irish fisherman sweaters, kilts, woolen capes, pewter, colognes, fragrances and more.

Check out this great, long time Cape May institution next time you're in town.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Life Lived

The Press's in-depth obituary of a Wildwood Boardwalk proprietor is well worth your time. Rose Berk had many connections to Cape May, and thus this article remembering her is a good one for the blog. Since she ran a shop on the WW Boardwalk in the 60s, 70s, and into the 1980s, I thought the above-photo from that era made sense.

For other stories of individuals gone but not forgotten, click here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cape May Paintings

If you're looking for Cape May art, you should click this link. This Cape May Times site will lead you to art by the one and only Patricia Rainey, Neal McPheeters, Stan Sperlak, and Carol King Hood, the artist who created a series of paintings of the Nuns at the Point, including the painting on this webpage. All these artists sell their work and I recommend you check them out.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Admiral Interiors

It's Sunday so I turn to religion... and post the above photo postcard of some of the Christian Admiral's various interiors circa many years ago.

You can see this photo postcard, and many other photos and/or postcards of the Admiral, at this link. The webstie proprietor obviously loved the Admiral.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nature Center of Cape May Brings it Strong

Have you checked out The Nature Center of Cape May's
website recently? You haven't? Why the heck not? They have many activities you should be considering, including a new home schooler program, the 2011 Summer Kids program, and more.

The Nature Center of Cape May is located by the Harbor and the Coast Guard Base. To learn more about it, click here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Jersey Devil in Cape May?

If you're reading this blog, you probably have heard of The Jersey Devil at one time or another.

Wikipedia gives the basic description:

According to legend, while visiting the Hanover Mill Works to inspect his cannonballs being forged, Commodore Stephen Decatur sighted a flying creature flapping its wings and fired a cannonball directly upon it to no effect. Joseph Bonaparte, eldest brother of Emperor Napoleon, is also said to have witnessed the Jersey Devil while hunting on his Bordentown, New Jersey estate around 1820. Throughout the 19th century, the Jersey Devil was blamed for livestock killings, strange tracks, and reported sounds. In the early 20th century, a number of people in New Jersey and neighboring states claimed to witness the Jersey Devil or see its tracks. Claims of a corpse matching the Jersey Devil's description arose in 1957.In 1960, the merchants around Camden offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the Jersey Devil, even offering to build a private zoo to house the creature if captured.

Anyway, according to this news/opinion/personal interest article on the Philly Burbs website, the Jersey Devil visited Cape May in 1909.


[drawing of the Jersey Devil is from the Philadelphia Post, 1909.]

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Bids for Convention Hall

Yesterday the city reviewed new bids for the Convention Hall build; you can read the AC Press's version of the story here and Jack Fichter and the Herald's version of the story here.

Most important fact revealed in the story: The new Convention Hall is still on track for a Memorial Day Weekend 2012 opening.

The photo is courtesy the AC Press, and it shows the pilings that formerly held up the old Hall. Those pilings now line the beach.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Artist Karen Margulis Returns to Cape May works

I always like finding new Cape May artwork... you can find the above new painting by Karen Margulis at this link. And you can learn how to buy the above painting, or any other painting by Margulis, at this link. Believe it or not, I have previously featured Margulis and you should click this link to see another Cape May painting she did in the past.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Preservation New Jersey & Beach Theatre

Contrary to those who would contend the Beach Theatre is not historic, Preservation New Jersey has recognized the Theatre as one of the most endangered historic spots in the state since 2008. And what is Preservation New Jersey? Glad you asked:

Founded in 1978, Preservation New Jersey advocates for and promotes historic preservation as a sustainable strategy to protect and enhance the vitality and heritage of New Jersey’s richly diverse communities. PNJ is the only statewide private membership-supported historic preservation organization in New Jersey.

Preservation New Jersey...

publishes the annual 10 Most Endangered Historic Sites in NJ list, which draws attention to remarkable sites and to their many challenges. We believe that listing them will be a catalyst for change and that positive solutions can be found for their preservation;

is a qualified organization for accepting historic preservation easements, which insures the perpetual protection of a property’s historic character and value, even if the property is transferred to subsequent owners. The program complies with all IRS regulations;

publishes a quarterly newsletter and online magazine, Preservation Perspective, instructional and informative Toolkits and other educational materials and publications;

maintains an informative and timely blog, Facebook and Flickr pages and Twitter;
advocates for sound public policy at the local, state and federal levels on behalf of the historic preservation community in New Jersey;

conducts tours, workshops, lectures and conferences to educate the public about historic sites and preservation and sustainability issues;

provides a network of and informative training opportunities for professionals through the Building Industry Network and;

serves as a clearinghouse for technical assistance and information to homeowners, municipalities, historic preservation commissions, nonprofit agencies and other individuals and groups.

Preservation New Jersey's street cred appears legit to me. And back in 2008, Preservation NJ listed the Beach Theatre as a Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Site in New Jersey.

If you're wondering whether the Beach Theatre is a historic site worthy of protection, make sure to check out Preservation New Jersey's take, which you can read here. And afterwards you should check out The Beach Theatre Foundation's website, and consider making a donation.

I suggest you also check out the Foundation's Advisory Council, which includes Tom Carroll and Bruce Minnix, people whose opinions should mean something to you if you know and value the history of Cape May.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


For reasons unknown, I have generally stayed away from Twitter until recently. But the photo above of a rainy Sunday at the Point is taken from a twitter tweet earlier today, which is pretty darn cool.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Evocative Photo

The Philly Market Cafe, a chef and blogger presumably from Philly, visited West Cape May a few days ago. Click that link to see photos like the great one I feature here from the cafe's blog.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

John F. Craig House Blog Worth A Regular Visit

The John F. Craig House blogs about Cape May all year long. A few days ago the Craig House blogger shared information regarding the many wineries which have sprung up around Cape May over the last several years. I recommend the JF Craig House, the blog, and those wineries, in no particular order! That beautiful sunset above was captured from a Craig House window, and the photo itself can be found on the b-n-b's blog.

In newsy-news of the day (as opposed to bloggy-news), Jack Fichter at the Herald reports on the City Council deadlocking over the annual budget and a proposed tax increase.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

AC Press Features the Beach Theatre and its History

The Exit Zero/Cape May Blog supports the resurrection, not the permanent tearing down, of the Beach Theatre.

I'm not sure if the AC Press has taken a stand, but today the Press runs two articles: here and here, which both appear to support the saving of the theatre.

The first article features memories of the Beach Theatre from a time before the current owners closed the theatre, and the second article profiles William Hunt. Hunt was the visionary who opened the first South Jersey nickelodeon in 1905 and became a South Jersey mogul, opening movie theatres all over the state and of course the wonderful Hunt's Pier and Starlight Ballroom in Wildwood. Hunt opened the Beach Theatre in 1950.

They certainly don't make business owners like William Hunt much anymore. The article mentions that Hunt wanted the Beach Theatre to be a premier movie house. Quite a goal. Perhaps not as financially satisfying as building a condominium, I don't know. But according to the article, Hunt was quite a business man:

Hunt, a former state assemblyman and president of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, made money, but he also gave back. Money from season passes, which allowed entry to all his theaters, went to charity. He helped fund the United Way and helped establish Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital, now called Cape Regional Medical Center. He even kept some of the movie houses going in winter, paid for by summer profits, just to serve the locals.
“They were great people to work for, and they knew how to treat the public and their employees. People worked for the Hunts until the day they died. They were honest and treated you with respect,” Andrus said.

In a town known for respecting its history, it will be interesting to see what the current crop of city council members decide to do with the pending application to destroy another piece of that history. In the meantime, the City's Zoning Board of Adjustment will meet on March 31 to consider the current owner's application to remove the theatre once and for all.

[Interior photo of Beach Theatre courtesy the Atlantic City Press.]