Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Charming Churches of Cape May Point

We wandered around Cape May Point yesterday, a bright, sunny, dry and windy day. I called it a perfect kite-flying day, but the clerk at the hardware store called it a perfect exterior painting day. Both of of us turned out to be correct according to to evidence presented by the citizens of Cape May Point. They were flying kites and painting fences, riding bikes and raking leaves. We carried Joe Jordan's book, Cape May Point: Three Walking Tours of Historic Cottages, but only for reference. We agreed to go in search of Cape May Point's churches, picking and choosing parts of the three tours in the book.

Saint Agnes's Catholic Church was our first, just across from the Cape May Point General Store. This Carpenter-Gothic style church was built around 1885. It was expecting an early afternoon wedding luckily for us, so we were able to peek inside at the gorgeous stained glass.

The Beadle Memorial Presbyterian Church is just across from St. Agnes on Cape Avenue. Its namesake, Rev. Beadle, was John Wanamaker's pastor back home in Philadelphia at the First Presbyterian Church there (21st and Walnut Streets). Yes, that is the same John Wanamaker from department store fame--he was an early resident of Cape May Point! Beadle Memorial was built around 1882 in the Stick style popular then. It was moved twice (in 1920 and 1966) before landing in its present location, because the of the encroaching pre-duned ocean. Many of the buildings in Cape May Point used to be at different locations but many others were lost to storms and flooding. The Joe Jordan book has some vintage photos of some of these lost Victorian beauties.

Another Stick-style church, St. Peter's-by-the-Sea, is probably the most-photographed building in Cape May Point. This church was purchased from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, disassembled, moved to Cape May Point, assembled at another location, and finally moved to this triangular, picket-fenced site. Fred chatted-up the guy painting the picket fence supports yesterday (it was a perfect day for that kind of thing).

St. Peter's Beach is just across from the church, and is one of the hot birding spots in Cape May Point which is in itself a really hot birding spot, globally speaking. I had to veer off the church tour to peak at the ocean.
Union Chapel was the last church we visited. This is not the original non-denominational Union Chapel, but was built around 1900. I'm not sure what "soaking" is, but signs were attempting to entice us to one. We resisted.

Lastly, the iconic St. Mary's-by-the-Sea, purchased for $9,000 for the Sisters of St. Joseph around the turn of last century. Originally, this was the swank Shoreham Hotel. When the nuns took over, the Shoreham's ballroom was changed into a chapel and the building's name was changed to St. Mary's-by-the-Sea. This was to honor the priest from St. Mary's in Philadelphia who facilitated the purchase.

When our walking was finished, we stopped to rest at Lake Lily, the centerpiece of Cape May Point, and yet another hot birding spot.

No comments: