Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Take a ghostly tour with me now as we discover some of the most famous haunted houses of Cape May and where it seems death is always on holiday!

As I mentioned in last week's blog the great of 1878 fire destroyed 31 blocks of Cape May but that didn't keep the ghosts from relocating. The town rebuilt itself within a year and  the new buildings that went up were built in the modern style of the day...later known as the Victorian style. This explains the huge concentration of late 19th century dwellings in Cape May today...everything from Gothic Revival to Queen Anne design...all part of the country's Victorian era.
          The row of Victorian homes called the "Seven Sisters"

       Here are 2 others in the end included in that row-
      I counted eight sisters-maybe one is a set of twins!

These "painted ladies" are known for fancy gables, gingerbread trim, stained glass windows and turrets. They also hold many secrets of their departed owners, who make their presence known today, in their fancy towers. It seems so many ghostly tales are connected to the many homes here both in legend and with eye witness accounts that one starts asking, "What houses aren't haunted?"

My friend and I took the night trolley "Ghosts of Cape May Tour" hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Center of the Arts volunteers. On the tour we traveled past some of the best known mansions for their "haunted" reputations. Here are a few of those stories.

John F. Craig House
This house has a long history. Originally built in 1866 by a wealthy Philadelphia merchant as his summer home the house expanded with each of it's new owners: The back end is the older Federal style while the front shows the distinctive Victorian architecture. Reportedly the older sections hold ghostly energies that are different from the newer sections of the house. Interesting, I didn't know ghosts were territorial? 

John Craig was the third owner and one of the ghosts haunting there is suppose to be Emma Craig- his second wife- who likes to sit near the front window and sew. Formally a governess for his children after his first wife died, it was a big scandal when he married Emma as it was considered beneath his station to marry a servant who became the matriarch. Indeed it was a contentious union (as she was not well liked) with his unhappy children and relatives. Today she remains there stern and controlling as ever to let the newest owners who is still in charge. 

           John F. Craig House

       Craig house on Columbia Avenue

I did a walking tour by this house during the day and met the newest owners. They were working outside in the garden and asked if I could take a photo of their beautiful home. They were very friendly and in conversation I asked them did they think their house was haunted? The woman answered without hesitation, "Oh yes! Very Haunted!"  She mentioned they hear men's voices (sailors) in the back of the house late at night and they seem to be talking about the best fishing spots in the bay. They also feels a woman's presence in the front parlor-smell perfume- and overall the ghosts don't like the doors kept closed! Perfect example of ghosts from different time periods peacefully coexisting without really paying attention to each other!

Emlen Physick House
The crown jewel of "Haunted Mansions" and nowhere else is this reputation so well-earned as at the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May’s original haunted house. 

                       Emlen Physick Estate 2014

For years, MAC’s (the headquarters of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts is located on the estate) staffers had felt they were not alone in the house, but it was not until psychic medium Craig McManus began his investigations into the town’s paranormal activities was he able to identify who the ghosts were. McManus, who has written three books about Cape May’s haunting's and has documented spirit activity at dozens of the town’s quaint B&B inns and hotel properties, has spent a great deal of time at the Physick house and has identified several of its residents.

Most prominent among them is Dr. Physick’s Aunt Emilie, who has great energy and a vibrant smile, according to McManus. “This is a ghost who knows everything that is going on in her home,” McManus wrote. He also explained that, after her death, Emilie had stayed on to watch over the house, which had fallen into disrepair before its restoration began in 1970. She has been reportedly seen at one of the second floor windows looking down.


         Aunt Emilie and Emlen Physick

Dr. Physick’s mother, Frances Ralston, a strong presence she exerted in her lifetime is still felt as “residual energy,” especially in her bedroom on the second floor, the paranormal hot spot of the home. Another resident is Isabelle, or Bella, Mrs. Ralston’s invalid younger sister, who died in 1883, shortly after the family moved into the mansion.

It's was a revelation in hearing about a second floor hot spot on our tour. I remember years ago going on a tour of this house during a Victorian weekend where the guides wore period costumes. This was before the "ghost craze" took hold of this resort town. What stays in my memory was a set grandparents who took their granddaughter, who was about 11, on the tour. Our guide had just taken us into Bella's bedroom and the young girl seemed fascinated with the beautiful old fashioned dress on a mannequin. 
It looked like it could have fit the girl as it seemed she was close in age to young Bella. Within minutes the girl appeared to become ill and nauseous and her grandparents rushed her out of the room. The guide seemed nervous and a bit rattled before continuing on about the furnishings in the room. I wondered on the spot if this had happened before with others taking the tour. Did residual energy of this sick sister and her affliction still remain and somehow affect this girl in a emphatic way?

A New Haunting Undocumented?
Here is something interesting that was sent to me this past week after one of my readers, Lisa Stewart read my blog last week on Haunted Cape May. She has been there to vacation and set me this photo of her in front of an 1875 house that is located on Beach Avenue. They did not notice anything strange until looking at their photos later at home and saw what looked like a figure in the left upstairs dormer window. 
           Photo taken by Dan Stewart
Here is what I wrote back to Lisa. After looking carefully at the photo and I do believe you may have captured something very unusual at the window. It does look like a face and what is so compelling is that you have an exact same window right across from it that is open with the same width and that window shows nothing! It's almost as if someone is sitting down and holding something-or that the window looks propped up with a stick cane or there is almost full figure -we may be seeing the bottom of her dress-holding a mop handle or broom-perhaps a servant or maid still cleaning upstairs? They say woman's work is never done-even in the afterlife? LOL 

In this online photo the 1875 house is currently on the market to be used as a rental property and can be yours for over $1,000.000.00. Ghosts included.  It is right near the famed Sea Mist on Beach Avenue. 

Here is a PS from Lisa:
Anita, at first glance I didn't notice, but going back to view the other images of the window I found online- upon zooming I can see a face in the same window! It is not in the exact position as mine but same window, same general features. I wonder if it is truly a ghost?

In Cape May, Lisa, anything of the ghostly realm is quite possible!

So is Cape May haunted?
Find out for yourself on one of Cape May's haunted tours, which allow you to explore the spirited world the nation's first resort with stories of ghosts and haunting
. Both walking and trolley tours are available. Read more: http://www.capemay.com/activities/ghosttours.html#ixzz34XD56L4T


  1. Thanks Anita Jo..great pics and fantastic history write-ups! I know how much hard work you put into this and it was well worth it...Loved it!! Can't wait to see more...

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments, Robert. I love to give some back ground history on my blogs and enjoy the research and also sharing my personal experiences as they happen in real time in the world of the paranormal. I appreciate that you know how much time and effort I put into each blog. If I take on a project it's not done until done well! I haven't written blogs the last 2 weeks as I have been asked to be a guest blogger on another author's page, Brian Moreland and I was on a location shoot being interviewed by the film crew from the Discovery Channel's TV show "A Haunting" this past week. They will be airing our episode (based on my book) in the Fall 2014. Very exciting time and all my hard work the last 5 years has paid off! Thanks again for being a fan of my blogs! All the best and success! Anita Jo

  2. You certainly make this area seem really interesting! I'd love the chance to go there and explore it myself!

    1. Dear Cathiejean, Thank yo so much for your comment. I love Cape May and it is one of the most interesting and beautiful spots on the Atlantic Coast. The haunting there is quite unique because of it's diverse history.I would like to do a follow up on the other 2 blogs about Cape May as people do not know it's important involvement of keeping our shores safe during WW 2 from German U-boats and the tragedy associated with conflict.If you ever get a chance to visit Cape May you have to stay at one of the gorgeous Victorian B&B right on Beach Ave. across the street from the ocean. You will love it! All the best to you and thank you for reading my blogs. Now with over 16,100 readers page views! Anita Jo