Historic Jersey Shore Bed and Breakfast
In 1870 Joseph French Page, a wealthy stockbroker from Philadelphia, bought 801 Stockton Ave. and the land that The Bedford Inn now sits upon.
In 1883, while renovations were being done at 801 Stockton Ave, he had 805 and 807 Stockton Ave (Bedford Inn) built for the use of his many children and their families. It was built as a double side-by-side home, called in those days a “Mother-Daughter” house. The style chosen was Victorian Italianate, a symmetrical building covered by a nearly flat roof, a low-pitched center gable with an oculus (round) window, and large double brackets supporting a deep overhanging cornice.
The original section of the house was three stories tall but only two rooms deep and had large open front porches on both the first and second floors. The interiors had corniced ceilings, large and elegant halls, heaters, modern open stairways to the third story and double parlors. Kitchens were convenient and supplied with everything needed to the culinary department, including hot and cold water throughout, with patented water-closets and bath-rooms. At approximately the turn of the century a two-story addition was constructed which greatly increased the size of the building and the number of rooms.
The Page family enjoyed many summers on Stockton Avenue until the home passed to Annie Page, wife of Edward D. Page, in 1921. Annie Page sold both sides of the house to unrelated parties in July of 1922. In the following years the building suffered under the brief tenures of many different owners on both sides of the building. In 1966 two couples from Indiana learned of Cape May because of the Coast Guard Base. Mr. and Mrs. Ford and Mr. and Mrs. Bedsworth joined forces to buy the entire building and run it as a summertime business. They combined their names and Bedford Inn was born.
The Fords and Bedsworths opened both sides of the building into one house with an archway on the first two floors and a doorway at the top of the third floor stairs. Rooms and hallways were partitioned and the house was divided into six apartments to meet the needs of the vacationing families of that time. After just one summer the Bedsworths returned permanently to Indiana and the Ford family was left to rent the apartments each summer until the autumn of 1975 when they sold to the Schmucker family—Alan and Cindy and their three sons.
When the Schmuckers took possession of the house, almost everything in the building that could need repairs needed them big-time. Not a single one of the 52 double-hung windows went up and stayed up. All three levels of the roof leaked seriously. The plumber called the plumbing a “nightmare” and the entire electrical system was way beyond scary. The exterior of the house had been painted in small sections at varying times and that project gave the building a patchwork color scheme of “battleship” gray.
Beyond these basics, most of the furniture was only worth discarding; all bedding needed to be replaced; door locks would not work; there were only six bathrooms and they all needed major help. The kitchens were a poor rendition of vintage 1940’s to early 1950’s, a little like the one in “The Honeymooners”. Amazing that anyone would actually pay money to vacation in such a place!
Many years later, a great deal of restoration work and the Bedford Inn had turned into a restored Cape May, New Jersey hotel. Cindy had spent close to 30 years running the inn until May of 2005 when Archie Kirk purchased the Bedford Inn.
January 2, 2006, the Kirks closed down the Bedford for about three months to do some updating and add their personal touch to the inn. The common areas of all three floors were totally redone. New paint, wallpaper, chandeliers, and the beautiful murals on the dining room walls and ceilings were the final touches to give the Bedford its new look. Every year since then, Archie has taken each room and given it a complete makeover. As with any old home, it is always a work in progress. There is always something to be done with the constant upkeep of the old and those new little touches to help make your stay more enjoyable and comfortable than the year before.