The Southern Mansion

720 Washington Street, Cape May, New Jersey 08204
Innkeeper(s): Barbara Wilde
  • Introduction

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey

    Southern Hospitality in our Cape May Bed & Breakfast

    The Southern Mansion, built circa 1860, is the largest and most opulent Cape May bed & breakfast inn and hotel, featuring the largest Cape May b&b rooms and suites in Cape May, New Jersey. The historic mansion is set on one-and-a-half acres of award-winning gardens, centrally located in the Cape May historic district, a 5-minute walk to the best beaches, shops and restaurants in South Jersey.

    The B & B estate has been completely restored to a boutique hotel and inn, to return you to genuine southern hospitality. Our Cape May bed & breakfast boasts absolute privacy, gourmet food, and luxurious amenities will calm and delight your senses during your next vacation to Cape May.

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey parlorThe Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey Ballroom
  • Insider's Info

    Travelers are always looking for memorable and relaxing experiences. Let’s discover more through the words of our innkeepers. Many thanks to Barbara Wilde for sharing her own secrets with!
    Why do most travelers stay at your inn?

    Great service and our beautiful comfortable rooms.

    What are you best known for?

    Helpful staff, and the delicious breakfast.

    What makes your inn unique?

    The beauty of the building.

    What do you love most about your inn?

    Relaxed atmosphere, unique style .

    If someone has never been to your city, what is the #1 reason to come visit?

    Beach and sunsets.

    What’s the best compliment you have ever received about the inn?

    The Staff.

    What’s the best kept secret about the area?

    Thrift shops.

    If a traveler is staying at your inn for 4 nights, what should he/she do in the area?

    Theater, tours, shopping, the zoo.

    Is there anything within walking distance of your inn?

    Restaurants, shopping, beach, theater, tours.

    What is your favorite restaurant/food in the area?

    410 Bank.

    Any good area guides/websites that travelers could reference?

    How many rooms does your inn have?

    24 rooms.

    Do you accept pets?



  • History

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey gardens

    Here is the story of how Southern Mansion became the Best Cape May Bed and Breakfast. In 1863, the Philadelphia industrialist George Allen built an American bracket, post and beam villa on the island of Cape May. Designed by the internationally acclaimed architect Samuel Sloan and constructed by Henri Phillipi, this seaside palace was used by Allen and his descendants as a country estate for the next 83 years.

    In 1946, the last of Allen’s direct relatives, Ester Mercur, passed away. Her husband, Ulysses, sold the estate with all its furnishings for the pittance of $8,000. Purchased as income-producing property (and before Cape May began its own renaissance), the building was converted into a boarding house, and immediately a different type of clientele began to occupy the home. The earth-tone exterior was painted white, while the interior was partitioned into many small rooms. Unfortunately, the conversion caused structural weaknesses. During the next half century, little maintenance was administered to the house or the grounds. By the 1980′s, the boarding-house license was revoked, and no income allowed for no upkeep.

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey inn frontWhile vacationing in Cape May in early 1994, the Bray/Wildes, also of Philadelphia, walked along the north side of the abandoned property in sheer disbelief. How could such a beautiful house with enormous grounds in Cape May be in such disrepair? Then they saw the for-sale sign. By August of 1994 the house had been purchased and the Bray/Wildes began wading through 130 years of history. Having sorted all the important furnishings, artwork, family mementos and heirlooms into four tractor-trailers, they removed 25 dumpster loads of garbage! Over the next eighteen months the Mansion and grounds were restored.

    The main beams were rotting with age, and new I-beams were installed to support the Mansion and straighten the rolling hallway floors. Electricity and plumbing were replaced, including the addition of a new HVAC and sprinkler system to conform with current codes. Outside, the entire house was ground down to the bare wood and repainted in the original earth-tones and all five chimneys were rebuilt using the original bricks. The slate and tin roofs, copper gutters, brackets, porches, soffits, trims, moldings and fascia boards were replaced. Finally, the finial was re-gilded, the entire grounds were tamed and the Italian gardens were re-established. Inside, all of the original architectural elements, furnishings, including the gasolier fixtures, walls, ceilings, floors, stairs, doors and windows have been restored to their original splendor. The 30 inch granite basement walls were waterproofed and phase I of the project was complete.

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey porchInspired by a Samuel Sloan lithograph of the house entitled “The Southern Mansion” (which now hangs prominently in the entrance hallway), the house was re-opened with that name in the spring of 1996, and phase II of the renovation was begun. The new South Wing houses ten additional guest suites, twelve bathrooms, a second ballroom, a commercial kitchen, three balconies, a gallery, verandah, solarium and two magnificent circular staircases, all designed and built in the same style as the original Mansion.

    By the summer of 1997 the project was complete, and genuine southern hospitality had returned to Cape May. We invite you to experience the Southern Mansion, The Best Cape May Bed and Breakfast The original Southern Mansion and it’s splendid grounds, heirloom, furnishings, art work and new wing await you! Come see why Southern Mansion is the best Cape May Bed and Breakfast.

    In her youth, Cape May was known as “Up North, Down South” due to her status as a favorite destination for antebellum southern gentry. During this period Cape May initiated the architectural and social trends of southern cities of the mid-1800s. In 1879 a great fire swept over Cape May, taking with it many of the grand structures built during this era of southern influence. Fortunately, one mansion survived the fire, as well as ensuing years of neglect, and today has received a complete restoration. After an absence of more than a century, genuine southern hospitality and antebellum style have returned to the island of Cape May.

  • An Unforgettable Cape May Wedding

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey WeddingsHave your Cape May wedding at the Southern Mansion.  A wedding out of the ordinary!

    • Imagine an exquisite Italian Villa
    • Large lavish gardens,
    • Genuine Victorian Ballroom
    • Luxury interiors,
    • Hardwood floors,
    • Wraparound porches,
    • Magnificent Spiral Staircases
    • Gourmet dining selections
    • Genuine Southern hospitality

    The Perfect Setting for your wedding!

    The Extraordinary Cape May Wedding. The dream of every bride is to have their customized perfect wedding. Every detail planned with their needs and desires in mind. The Southern Mansion is that unique property  which can make an event out of the ordinary.

    The Southern Mansion offers something different that the typical wedding hall or hotel so couples can showcase their special personality or blend into this Victorian splendor.  Imagine getting the best this mansion has to offer: make a grand entrance from our spiral staircase, enjoy our exotic lush gardens for your ceremony and cocktail hour, having a delicious gourmet dinner in our large solariums with the garden view, and moving to a different room for music and dancing! Want to surprise your guests with something unique, and have a wedding that your guests remember and talk about for years to come?  Infused with stunning beauty and original character The Southern Mansion is your perfect wedding venue.

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey wedding carriageGetting married during winter or on a day when the rain arrives uninvited? There is always a beautiful way of holding your entire event inside our spacious mansion.

    For couples that are more traditional and would like a ballroom-style set up, the Southern Mansion provides the South Wing Ballroom, where you may hold your entire reception, from dinner to music and dancing.

    The Southern Mansion specializes in intimate weddings for up to 150 guests. For larger parties, the Southern Mansion could accommodate a cocktail reception.

    Our on-site Special Event Manager will guide your steps from the moment you booked your wedding to your very special day! Our best recommendations and professional secrets for quality local vendors, a wedding checklist and timeline, and so many other details will become part of your wedding planning package. We will provide total privacy and special attention to your event, as we hold one wedding at a time.

    And to make things easier, our on-site wedding officiant will perform your ceremony. Our wedding coordinator will help you with all the information you need to apply for a wedding license when you get married in Cape May. Civil unions are welcome.

    Celebrate your love and share your happiness with your guests at the Southern Mansion in Cape May!

    Please contact (our Special Event Manager, Andreea Leaha, to check availability or to obtain a price estimate and complete Cape May wedding packages:

  • Cape May Inn Special Events

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey porchCape May is a wonderful all season resort that has a huge variety of activities to suit an  unlimited variety of tastes. There are endless Cape May activities nearby The Southern Mansion. If you come for the summer expect pristine beaches in all shapes and sizes both private and quiet or bustling with numerous sunbathers. Sailing , fishing, charter boats, airboats ,  surfing, or wave runners we have it all immediately available. Our personal world champion surfer is even available for private lessons.  Gourmet and organic dining is available within a couple blocks walk. Since Cape May is known as "The Restaurant Capital of New Jersey", all palates can be pleased from gourmet French or Creole to farm fresh local produce to seafood just minutes off the boat.

    Nightlife ranges from jazz festivals, local theatre groups, movies to live music. Whether you prefer a happening night club or a romantic dark bar with stellar cocktails just walk down the street. To enjoy Cape May, take a leisurely stroll or bike and be amazed by the phenomenally restored Victorian buildings one after the other. Want to learn more historical tours abound? Just hop on a comfortable trolley or an even more relaxed horse and carriage ride to learn the town's history up close. Shoppers, Cape May is paradise for interesting boutiques and local crafts, from upscale to funky.  Fabulous local farmers markets with the best homemade chocolate, fudge, local cheese , produce, fruits, and homemade products that New Jersey has to offer.

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey gardensVisit and tour our award winning local vineyards and wineries or better yet enjoy a picnic and take home a case of fine Vino. The gardens of Cape May are well worth visiting and will satisfy the most discerning of horticulturalist. The Wetland and birding offer days of activities with Cape May being the largest migratory bird area in North America. The fall weather is sublime and tons of festivals from lima bean to wine abound to keep everyone busy. Winter is quieter but the holiday season in Cape May comes alive with all the Victorian Mansion decorated elaborately and open for touring and full of holiday hospitality. Enjoy being romantic in Cape May? Many people do, which is why Cape is the third most popular place to get married in America.

    Come stay with us and enjoy all the wonders available. Stay as long as you can as at least a two  night stay is needed to even start to get the taste of what Cape May is all about. Our staff at the Southern Mansion is full of secret information to make your stay unforgettable and ready to pamper you with Southern hospitality!

  • Amenities

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey breakfastThe b & b estate has been completely restored to a boutique hotel and inn, to return you to genuine southern hospitality. Our Cape May bed & breakfast boasts absolute privacy, gourmet food, and luxurious amenities will calm and delight your senses during your next vacation to Cape May.

    Breakfast Menu

    Good Morning! Our Cape May Breakfast menu is changed daily. Breakfast is served at your private table. Specials are brought to you by your server, and there is a buffet offering coffee, teas, juices, fresh baked muffins, sconces, croissants, and fresh fruit.

    Cape May Breakfast Entrees Sample menu below.

    • Breakfast entrees come with a side of:
    • Bacon, Sausage or Ham, and Southern Mansion home fries.
    • Eggs any style and cereal are always available.
    • Omelets Create your own: Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms, Spinach, Sausage, Bacon Bits
    • Cheeses: Sharp Provolone, American, Pepper Jack
    • Blueberry Hotcakes
    • Home made fluffy buttermilk batter with seasonal jersey fresh berries
    • Chef Brian's Special
    • Pouched eggs atop a grilled baguette and topped with a scratch-made sun-dried tomato Rosa sauce

    Please choose one entree per guest. Additional Cape May Breakfast choices are available at additional cost. Please ask your server.

    Enjoy our glorious amenities. The Southern Mansion is a bed and breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey like no other.

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey breakfastBedroom Amenities

    • Private bathrooms with hand painted tile showers (some claw foot tubs available)
    • Magnified / illuminated makeup / shaving mirrors
    • Hairdryers
    • 32" flat screen TVs
    • In-room phones
    • Full maid and evening turndown Service
    • King size beds available in most rooms
    • Original antique furniture
    • Ice buckets

    Hotel Amenities

    • Concierge
    • Full gourmet breakfast
    • Original antique furniture
    • Beach chairs and towels available in the summer
    • On-site parking
    • Iron and ironing board available upon request
    • Wi-Fi in common areas
  • Cape May Inn Special Events

    The Southern Mansion - Cape May, New Jersey special eventsFamily retreats, rehearsals, parties, dinner, holiday parties, showers, and more are available at our Cape May Inn, the Southern Mansion.

    The Southern Mansion, Cape May Inn is set on 1.5 acres of private tree-lined grounds, this architectural masterpiece boasts luxurious and spacious guest rooms, exquisite mahogany woodwork, intricately carved crown moldings, soaring fifteen feet ceilings, giant gilded mirrors, grand ballrooms, and 5,000 square feet of verandahs.

    Circa 1863 the Mansion has been restored impeccably, winning national and local awards for its beauty. No other Cape May Inn offers such comforts and amenities available. With millions of dollars worth of antiques, a stay is “not to be missed” and its the “only place to stay in Cape May” (The New York Times).

    Features Include

    • Meeting space available, accommodating sixty people
    • A trained corporate meeting planner to assist you with all of your arrangements
    • Meeting room equipped with wireless internet access
    • Catering services available for groups (breakfast, coffee breaks, lunch, dinner, cocktail parties, or more formal evening meals)
    • Beverage station in the meeting room available throughout the day

    Visual & Audio Equipment

    • TV, VCR and DVD players
    • LCD projectors
    • Overhead projectors
    • Drop-down and free-standing screens
    • Wireless hand held microphones

    Other Included Accessories

    • Wireless hi-speed internet
    • White boards
    • Flip charts and easels
    • Teleconferencing
    • Printers and Fax
    • Podiums
  • Our Winery

    The Southern Mansion WinerySouthern Mansion’s, Willow Creek Winery is a favorite amoung Cape May Wineries, featuring a 9,500 square-foot villa for wine tasting. Game cocks roam the grounds from Wilde Cock Winery in Cape May. Willow Creek Winery is Southern Mansion's 50 acre Vineyard right on Cape May Island. Willow Creek Winery is the largest and most beautiful vineyard accessible from everywhere in Cape May. The vineyard is a "must see" for all seasons and bustling with all the constant activities surrounding the vines. A 12,000 square winery and tasting room is being completed and will soon be available to the public.

    Plan tours of the winery, the elaborate gardens are being designed by Longwood garden professionals. Attend a winery event such as music in the vineyards, special food and wine events and seasonal celebrations. You will be able to book private Winery Events as well. Learn care of vines, planting, pruning, winemaking ane enjoy grape harvesting. There is not a prettier and more relaxing place in Cape May to sit back and enjoy a glass of great wine!

    Buy local wonderful wines to drink and take home with you! 50 Display gardens are being planned and getting ready to be installed. We grow a list of Vinfera Varietals Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Vignier, Malvasia. Enjoy the beauty of the garden state at it's best.

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