Emlen Physick Estate
1048 Washington Street
Cape May, New Jersey 08204
This historic site is administered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities
The Physick Estate at Christmas time
Dr. Physick and his family
I have visited the Physick Estate for a third time, three times for the Christmas decorations and the other times to take the house tour with a different theme. It is an interesting place. The whole house was decorated with garland and trees done with a Victorian theme of the time period. The home is always so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays and should not missed.
The entrance hall at the Physick House decorated for the holidays
The house is set up for Christmas Day and their are actors portraying the Physick family before the holidays. They explain why the house is set up the way it was for the Christmas holidays and who will be coming for dinner. All the rooms are decorated which would not happen in a normal Victorian home but the society shows how each room would have been interpreted for the holiday festivities.
We started the tour on the first floor touring the Entrance Foyer, the Living Room, Dining Room, Music Room, Sewing Room and Library of the home. Since privacy was the order of the day in a Victorian home, all the rooms were connected by the entrance foyer and closed off with a series of doors so that the occupants could have privacy.
We started first in the foyer, with the tour guide describing the architecture, decorations and fixturing of the lamps and chandeliers. We discussed the make of the fixtures and the type of materials used to build and decorate the house.
The ceiling and fixturing of the hallway. The Chandelier was created with both gas and electricity when it became available. When the ceiling had to be repaired, the members had to use different materials to match what was already on the ceiling and you would never know the difference.
The fixturing of the house went from gas to electric
We next moved into the Living Room where the formal Christmas tree would be placed. During the early part of the century, the family like most Victorians would have had a tabletop tree but as time went on decorations became more elaborate.
The elaborate decorations of the full Christmas tree
The Living Room was so beautifully decorated
Elaborate China wedding gift
You can see the bedrooms with clothes and accessories, the game room with the billiards and work out objects and the living room, dining room and music room and library. It is how a proper Victorian home was set up at a time when families wanted privacy. The tour took us to each room where it was explained its purpose in a wealthy Victorian home. Most houses at the time would not have been this elaborate.
The Music Room would have been another place where the family gathered for entertainment long before the use of TV and radio. Family members would play instruments and sing to entertain guests who came to visit.
The Music Room
The decorative greens around the fireplace in the Music Room
The Table Top Tree would have been one of the first Christmas trees in Victorian times. Gifts, candies and cards would have been attached to the tree and would have been taken apart on Christmas day.
The beautifully carved fireplace in the Music Room
The beautiful flowers in the Music Room
The Parlor on the other side of the hallway was for more informal get togethers and for sewing. This is where the family would do more informal entertaining and use on a day in day out basis.
The Parlor Room for sewing and reading and informal entertaining
The comfortable seats in the Billiards Room
The Sewing Kit in the Parlor
The formal dining room was set for Christmas Dinner and you get to see the kitchen and where everything was prepared for the family.With the house being set up for the holidays, you can see how elaborate the preparations would have been and how the table would have been set and the food would have been served.
The Dining Room at the Physick Mansion set for Christmas dinner
The table was set with the best china, crystal and silver for the holidays
Food would be served from the Dining Room sideboard by the servants
The elaborate sideboard
The sideboard for drinks and dessert
The Dining Room Table set for Christmas dinner
The kitchen was set up for the cooking of the Christmas dinner along with the foods that would have been served and the recipes that would have been used to prepare them. Entertaining during the holidays would not have stopped with just a family dinner as people would be entertaining neighbors, friends and relatives. There would have been teas and receptions on top the formal Christmas dinner to prepare for in a Victorian home.
The Kitchen during the holiday season
Preparations for Christmas dinner
The Christmas Day menu
The coal burning stove in the ‘modern’ kitchen
The smaller original kitchen
Preparations for Christmas dinner and holiday gatherings
Holiday dishes being prepared
Getting the laundry and dishes done
Upstairs are the bedrooms and the Billiard Room that was used for entertaining as well. Men and women would relax and enjoy more informal entertainments. The bedrooms were prepared for the members of the house dressing for dinner, leaving for holiday visits and entertaining.
Mrs. Physick’s bedroom with clothes laid out for dinner or visiting
Christmas presents to family members
Mrs. Physick’s bedroom
Mrs. Physick’s dress
Mrs. Physick’s closet
Dr. Physick’s room with clothes laid out for the evening
The Servants Room
The Modern bathroom with indoor plumbing
The Servants room for mending
The Billiards Room would have been used for light entertainment and after hours play.
The Billiards Room on the Second floor of the Physick House
The Billiards Room
During the warmer months, they have a cafe and an afternoon tea for visitors to the home and more outdoor activities.
The Mansion’s Publicity Pamphlet:
Celebrating our history….Enriching your life
Emlen Physick Estate
Lovingly restored to its original splendor, the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate is Cape May’s only Victorian house museum. The 18 room Physick House was built in the Stick Style of architecture, with trademark design features of renowned Philadelphia architect Frank Furness. The Estate provides an in-depth glimpse of the period and offers year-round tours and unique living history programs.
The elaborate woodwork in the Physick House
The new theme for Physick Estate Tours in 2017 is “Let’s Go Shopping! Victorian Consumer Culture.” Revolutions in American industrializing, merchandising, advertising, retailing and consuming in the Victorian era forever changed how people shopped. Take a guided tour of the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate with this new theme for 2017 and you’ll discover how consumer culture has changed since the late 1800’s. The house is air conditioned and the first floor is fully accessible.
The Carroll Gallery and Carriage House Café & Tearoom
On the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate. The estate’s 1876 Carriage House now houses a gallery featuring changing exhibits throughout the year and a charming museum shop as well as the Carriage House Café & Tearoom. Dine in the Carriage House or outdoors beneath the gaily-striped tent overlooking the gorgeous gardens. Enjoy a hearty lunch from our Café menu or a traditional English Tea Luncheon or afternoon tea with tea breads and scones freshly baked in our own kitchen. Open late April through October. Air conditioned and fully accessible.
The Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May, NJ
The entrance to the home
MAC is committed to making its programs accessible to as many individuals as possible. For information or if you require assistance, please call 609-884-5404 in advance so we may accommodate you. New Jersey Relay Center for TTY customers, please call 800-852-7899. MAC’s public history programs are funded in part by the New Jersey Historical Commission in the Department of State Restoration work at the Physick Estate has been funded by the New Jersey Historic Trust, the New Jersey Cultural Trust and the 1772 Foundations.
Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Emlen Physick Estate pamphlet. Please call the Estate at the number above for more information.
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