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Cape May revisted 25 years later

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JONAL ENTRY 1231 | JUNE 12 2012

Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again, but I say you can try. Yet my visit to Cape May last week after a 25-year absence supported Wolfe's point at least as much as mine. In this case, I couldn't go "home" again because what was home to me for four years (1964-68; ages 22 to 26), the first home my bride and I lived in after our honeymoon, is gone. And it's harder to accept that its gone than most other homes might be, because this home was like a fortress. It survived World War I and World War II and served the national causes valiantly in both campaigns. It was built of brick and marble and granite and was thought to be indestructible. But destroy it its owners managed to do.


The "Christian Admiral," a 333-room resort hotel built around the time of the turn of the twentieth century and turned into a Bible conference resort in the early 1960s, was my weekend residence for four years.

When I lived there it had been owned by a nonprofit corporation controlled by my then-employer (my major job then was as managing editor of the Christian Beacon newspaper). Each September, the family Bible Conference turned into a liberal arts Christian college (Shelton College), which I attended for my senior year and earned my B.A. (that story was told in some detail in a six-part Jonal series beginning here). In the 1980s, the nonprofit fell into crippling debt and the properties in Cape May went onto the auction block. The grandson of the minister who had controlled the Bible Conference and college (Curtis Bashaw, whom I think of as the Donald Trump of Cape May) loved the properties (as I and many other people did) and he was the successful bidder. Though the Christian Admiral had an illustrious history, another of the properties, the Congress Hall Hotel, was even more historic with several former Presidents of the United States having stayed there. And as both properties required major repairs to be put into use again, Bashaw sold the city bock occupied by the Admiral for development in new residences. The result is seen below.

The block formerly occupied by the Admiral Hotel/Christian Admiral and Shelton College as it appears in 2012. The corner is Pittsburgh at Beach in Cape May, NJ.

More next time.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

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