Cape May's Emlen Physick Estate

One constant in Cape May is the Emlen Physick Estate. No matter what time of year it is, you can take a tour of this 18 room mansion designed by renowned architect Frank Furness. Built in 1879, it's considered by some to be one of the finest examples of Victorian “Stick Style” architecture in America.

Back in its heyday, the Physick Estate housed a rather unusual household: Dr. Emlen Physick, who never married; his widowed mother, Mrs. Ralston; and his Maiden Aunt Emilie.

Dr. Physick's grandfather, Dr. Philip Syng Physick (1768-1837) was known as the Father of American Surgery. Emlen Physick followed family tradition by completing medical training, but he never practiced. He lived the life of a country gentleman and animal breeder. He is remembered for having the first automobile in Cape May.

In the 1970's, after decades of decline, the Physick Estate and the nine outbuildings on the four-acre Cape May estate on Washington Ave. were saved and restored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC).

What to See

The exterior of the Estate is distinguished by Furness’ trademark oversized features, including gigantic upside-down corbelled chimneys, hooded “jerkin-head” dormers, and the huge stick-like brackets on the porch.

Inside you'll also find the distinct signature of Furness, who designed much of the interior molding, fireplaces, and even furniture. Many original furnishings are on display throughout the house.

A new addition to the grounds is a Victorian herb garden. In season, there is a garden exhibit of old time garden implements.

During the holidays, the house is decorated with Victorian Christmas ornaments.

Note: Archived Story.

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