|In the Spring 1986 issue of Victorian Homes, John Crosby Freeman, former professor of architectural history and the decorative arts referred to the Inn as "a split personality sea-side Victorian." Freeman goes on to describe the building, "The original Queen Anne house is best seen in the top photo (in the article) with its uninterrupted belt course between first and second stories, central brick chimney and an ornamentalized cap, hipped-roof dormer with Queen Anne sash, tense side elevation with gable and second floor windows pasted to the broad entablature. The front bears the stigmata of a personality change: shed-roofed, Arts and Crafts dormer with tudorized" sash; broken entablature and "Dutch colonial" gambrel gable. Perhaps at this time, the "colonial" porch with its Adamesque pairings of columns was added. The only thing that points to Queen Anne in the front is the over-scaled dormer that disrupts the cornice. Oddly enough, the "colonial" verandah captures the essence of the original builder's Victorian Italianate and Mansardic and the new-fashioned picturesqueness of the Queen Anne. Here, in 1869, old Victorian classicism won out with the central chimney, symmetrical T-plan and broad entablature. The later porch iced this cake, even though the contemporary gable made it more picturesque."
Some of the interesting things you may look for when visiting the Inn are:
The Leitrim Suite comprises what was the original master suite plus a second bedroom, which is situated over the foyer. The latter was Charlotte McIlvaine's dressing room. Look for the narrow door at the second-floor landing where her maid would enter and exit the suite. The built-in wardrobe is original.
The door at the stair landing between the first and second floor was once an entry into a back stair to the second floor used by the domestic help. That was a very convenient space where we could install mechanical and electrical equipment since the stair no longer existed. The domestic help used the chimney staircase to access their space on the third floor. Note in the photo at left, that while very nice, the stair balusters are not "turned" but square with a nice edge detail. Turned millwork was very expensive, and was used only where guests or family circulated.
The chimney staircase is the only one of its kind in Cape May, getting its name from its original design purpose to ventilate the home. Note that the stair landings all have windows (now stained glass) and that the doors off the stairwell have a louver door as well as a solid door. By opening the windows on the first floor porch and in the upper floor rooms, closing the louvered doors for privacy, but opening the solid doors during the day, this design allowed the heat to rise up the stairwell and escape through the windows on the landings, creating a draft effect similar to a chimney in a fireplace.