A Brief History: Located at 200 Congress Place Cape May New Jersey. In 1816 a simple boarding house opened in Cape May New Jersey. It was called the “The Big House” and was owned by Thomas H. Hughes. The Cape May residents never thought that the house would be a success and they nicknamed it “Tommy’s Folly.” The house was a simple set up albeit large. There were times when supplies were sparse. This did not stop the visitors from coming and packing out the house. In 1828 Hughes was elected to Congress, this is when the name changed to “Congress Hall.”
By the middle of the 19th Century Congress Hall doubled in size, but in 1878 the building was destroyed by a fire that devastated 38 acres of Cape May’s Seafront. By 1879 the hotel was rebuilt this time with brick. Cape May and the hotel were so popular that several presidents vacationed there including; Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. President Benjamin Harrison made Congress Hall his summer White House. Famous composer John Philip Sousa played at the hotel regularly. He liked the hotel so much that he composed a march called “Congress Hall March.”
The hotel took a dive from 1905 to the 1920’s. The owner at the time Annie Knight convinced the city council to repave the roads around the hotel and it opened once more in the early 1920’s. Congress Hall went on to open the first post-Prohibition cocktail bar in 1934. The present owners purchased the building in 1995 with hopes to return Congress Hall to its former glory.
Haunted History: During the renovation there was a bit of paranormal activity. Most of the things experienced were residual hauntings. There was an EVP recorded that said “Don’t hurt Schmiddy.” The boilers in the hotel are Schmid brand. Some say that the EVP may have been a maintenance worker.