Emlen Physick Estate is a Victorian House Museum in Cape May, New Jersey. Built in 1879 at the cost of $15,000, this 18-room mansion archives the detailed history of Cape May's Victorian era, architecture, and lifestyle. This architectural marvel was designed and built by Frank Heyling Furness (1839-1912) for Emlen Physick Junior (1855-1916), a doctor and scion of a famous Philadelphia family. Furness, a Philadelphia native, was named one of America's top 10 architects by the American Institute of Architects. As one of the grand American symbols of Victorian Stick Style Architecture, this mansion yearly attracts over 56,000 visitors.
Cape May's Victorian History
Cape May's Victorian architectural influence infamously started after a fire razed down much of the town in 1878. The rebuilding started when the Victorian era peaked, so the new houses built during the town's reconstruction had Victorian style. Over the years, the magnificent Victorian houses deteriorated, and efforts to preserve them started when Cape May was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The town started restoring and preserving these historic houses, with some remaining as residences, and others were converted to bed and breakfasts like the Southern Mansion. Tours within and around the Emlen Physick Estate are available, and there are plenty of places to visit and things to do.
Emlen Physick Estate has house tours that help visitors understand the colorful and creepy Victorian heritage at Cape May. Tour admission costs are different, and visitors can book them from the estate's website or call management.
Clueless At The Physick Estate
This tour reenacts the home of the criminally insane, where three murderers are serving life sentences. However, one was framed, and the visitors got to decide the one to be exonerated. This tour has "The Exoneration" title. Adults are charged $25, and children aged 3 to 12 years $20.
Taste Of Cape May Kitchen Tour
Visitors see where family chefs make homemade cuisines in five splendid Cape May homes. The intricately designed kitchens are dazzling and inspiring. Included in the tour are tastings of the delicious foods from some of Cape May County's best commercial kitchens. Adults go on this tour and are charged $30.
Historic Haunts Combination Tour
On this one-hour evening tour, visitors ride a trolley through the Historic District and listen to haunting stories about Cape May. Tours include the Physick House Museum, where visitors see Cape May's only Victorian house museum, reportedly haunted, to learn Victorian spiritualism. Guides also take visitors on the Ghosts of Cape May trolley tour at the Physick House and explain to them the paranormal methods used by Victorians and in present-day by paranormal investigators. Adults are charged $30, and children of ages 3 to 12 years $20.
Combination Trolley/Physick Estate Tour
An immersive two-hour tour that includes a guided trolley tour to Cape May's Historic District and a guided tour of Physick House Museum to help visitors appreciate Cape May's rich history and architecture. The unique Victorian streets visitors see on trolley tours illustrate why Cape May is the only city designated as a National Historic Landmark. This tour also includes first and second-floor tours of the Physick House Museum and the Carriage House Carroll Gallery Exhibit. Tour tickets can be purchased by contacting the management at (609)884-5404 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Physick Estate Children's Tour
On this tour children learn how life was over 100 years ago on this half hour guided tour of the Victorian House Museum which is suited for 5 to 10-year-old children.
Graveyard, Ghosts And Mansion Combo Tour
On this two-hour evening tour, guides narrate in detail ghost activity stories in the Physick House Museum and odd Victorian funeral practices. It starts with a trolley ride to the historic Cold Spring Presbyterian Cemetery to see Dr. Emlen Physick Junior and his family's graves. In contrast, their visitors hear scary electronic voice phenomena (EVP) of spirits the guides have recorded. Inside the Physick House are tours to rooms where visitors hear more EVPs and learn more about the activities there. The staff and guides also answer the visitor's questions. This tour costs $40 for all age categories.
Guided tours are offered to visitors to the first and second floors of the Physick House Museum. On these tours, visitors learn how the Physick household lived, worked, and spent leisure time and see the detailed and beautiful Victorian house interior decor. The tour costs adults $20, and children aged 3 to 12 years are charged $15.
Magic and Mystery House Tour
Victorians were enchanted with mystery and illusion, and on this 30 minutes tour, visitors enter specific rooms associated with that. Touring visitors learn about Harry Houdini, a favorite with Victorian audiences, and his escape acts, Ionia, the Belgium goddess of mystery Victorians worshipped for her magic, Sigmund Neuberger, the magician known as The Great Lafayette, and the Pepper's Ghost illusion and much more. Tickets to this tour cost $15 for children aged 3 to 12 years and $20 for adults.
Holiday House Tours
During the holidays, the other special tours available for visitors are:
- Christmas Candlelight House Tours
- Evening Yuletide House Tour
- Physick Family Christmas House Tour
- Lamplighter Christmas Tour
- Holiday Inns Tour
Other Places To Tour
Emlen Physick Estate precincts have other historic places to tour and dine like:
- World War II Lookout Tower
- Carroll Gallery
- Cape May Lighthouse
- Cape May Museum Shops
- Boat and Nature Tours
- Gardens of Cape May Tour
- Walking and Golf Cart Tours
- Vintage Restaurant
Emlen Physick Estate tours include seasonal ones, so it's advisable for visitors to first contact Cape May MAC (Museums + Arts + Culture) which manages the estate, to get more details like admission times and costs before visiting.