congress hall [Est. 1816]
A hotel fit for presidents
Franklin Pierce was the first president to visit Congress Hall, in 1855.
In 1858 James Buchanan enjoyed a presidential break at the hotel.
1812 A small hotel is first built upon the site near the current Congress Hall location by Jonas Miller. 1816 That building is demolished and Thomas Hughes, a well-known politician and businessman, constructs one of the biggest hotels in the country. He calls it The Big House By the Sea. Locals who think the hotel is too large to make money refer to it as “Tommy’s Folly.” 1818 The hotel is destroyed by fire. Hughes rebuilds, even bigger than before. There are around 100 rooms. 1826 Hughes sells his hotel to Samuel Richards for $3,000. 1828 The hotel is renamed Congress
President Ulysses Grant stayed at Congress Hall in 1875.
Chester Arthur attracted huge crowds when he arrived in 1883.
Hall, in honor of Hughes’s ascension to the House of Representatives. 1835 Richards sells to Jonas Miller for $35,000. 1851 Miller sells to his son Waters for $42,000. 1854 Waters B. Miller rebuilds, adding two extra wings and incorporating large wooden columns. 1855 President Franklin Pierce is a guest at Congress Hall, followed several years later by his successor, President James Buchanan. 1863 Miller sells to Jacob F. Cake, his brother-in-law, for $100,000.
In 1891 Benjamin Harrison made the hotel his Summer White House.
1869 Cake extends the wing that runs to the beach, at an estimated cost of $200,000. 1870s Ulysses Grant becomes the third president to stay at Congress Hall. 1878 Congress Hall is destroyed by the worst fire in Cape May’s history. Philadelphia businessman Edward C. Knight heads up a team of investors who rebuild the hotel, this time with brick. 1879 A small extension is added to the west wing of the hotel and the redbrick building is painted sage green. Later it would be changed to yellow. 1883 President Chester Arthur attracts
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