As stated June 3, 1876 in the Cape May Ocean Wave Newspaper...“One of the handsomest cottages erected at Cape May the past year is that of Mrs. Thomas Webster, of Philadelphia, at the corner of Washington Street and Madison Avenue, Mr. Enos R. Williams, contractor and builder. The improvement is very finely situated on high ground, well proportioned, tastefully painted and a decided ornament to the eastern end of the island.”
Built: The Thomas Webster House was constructed in 1876 by local architect and builder Enos Williams (This closely coincides with the year that the Physick Estate was built and the year of The Centennial Celebration held in Philadelphia). The cost to build the house at that time was $4,500.00.
Architectural Style: French Second Empire with Mansard Style Roof. Original exterior colors of the house were White clapboard, Dark Green Shutters and Red Mansard Roof.
Exterior Features: Mansard style roof, large front porch with gingerbread, enclosed side porch, historic copper beach tree, huge ginko tree and tulip poplar trees, authentic reproduction of picket fence, hand crafted lanterns, Victorian sitting pavilion.
Interior Features: Two original ceiling medallions, three story mahogany and maple staircase, ten foot ceilings in parlors and original fireplaces. Parlor has been restored to its original colors and hand painted stenciling.
Original Owners: The Webster Family of Philadelphia.
First Use of the House: Used as a Summer Home for the Webster Family. Thomas and William Webster were both Engineers.
Past Use of the Home: Mainly used as single-family home until being remodeled as apartments.
Current Owners: The house was purchased in 1996 by Harry and Berny Gamble and now operates as a luxurious Victorian Suites Inn serving couples and families on seaside holiday.
The leaking mansard roof was removed and replaced with octagonal shaped cedar shingles which were individually stained red before being installed by the roofer (red was the original color of the roof). Because the house was black when purchased it was decided to paint the body of the house the original shutter color which was dark green (originally the entire house was white). The original front porch gingerbread was removed, dipped to strip the paint, repainted and reinstalled. Complimentary green trim colors were selected with red accents. An authentic picket fence was built by Harry and painted to compliment the house. Mahogany storm doors were designed and custom made for the French doors. The gardens have also been designed to compliment the Victorian style by Harry who is a professional landscape designer and Flower Show Exhibitor. The luxurious outdoor shower was designed to blend with the house and constructed of full dimensional New Jersey white cedar. An ornate Victorian Sitting Pavilion was custom made and installed in the side garden. Currently an enclosed rear garden bistro is being created with a tropical theme for the added enjoyment of our guests!
Simply put, the entire inside of the house has been redone by the Gamble's themselves. We did have a great plumber to do the rough in plumbing but that was the only help we received. Friends and family were our crew. We have recently restored the front parlor and the stairway. The original plaster crown moldings had actually been wallpapered over to hide their deterioration. We removed the wallpaper, repaired the moldings and painted to achieve the original appearance. An antique electrical light fixture was moved from the entrance to the inner hall and replaced with an antique gas fixture for a more historically correct effect. A chair rail and wallpaper were added to the entrance and stairway. Lincrusta (an embossed wallcovering invented in Victorian times) was added to this area and finished with an antiquing process. The parlor walls and ceiling had been covered by sheetrock which ruined the reveal of the moldings. The sheetrock and several layers of wallpaper were removed which revealed badly damaged walls and the original hand painted stenciling. The hand painted stenciling was great to see and we decided to recreate the original look around the room! The ceiling was completely torn down and replaced. The entire room and the plaster cornice moldings have been restored and painted to the original color scheme. An antique fireplace mantel and ornate tiles imported from Spain were installed with a gas fireplace. The plaster ceiling medallion was stripped of old paint to reveal the original decorative color scheme which was then repainted and an antique oil chandelier was added to the old gas pipe. Antique Eastlake Victorian furniture and authentic lace window treatments complete this spectacular room and delight many on the local house tours!
Drop ceilings and paneling were removed from the rooms in the rest of the house (in some cases revealing wires concealed behind). Crumbling plaster walls were either replaced or repaired. Old sinks and appliances were all removed and discarded. All of this filled three 30 cubic yard dumpsters. Window chains were all replaced to retain the original windows with the beautiful old wavy glass, the original wide plank pine floors were hand stripped, sanded and finished by Berny. Bathroom floors were ceramic tiled, ceilings were replaced with mahogany and premium quality bath fixtures were installed. An Victorian tin ceiling was installed. Period antiques were hand selected by Harry and Berny and arranged throughout the suites to create an authentic but comfortable experience for our guests of the Webster House.