By Lauren Lipton

CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) — Thousands of people from the Philadelphia area go to Cape May to visit each summer, many winding up at the Chalfonte, the oldest continuously operating hotel in Cape May and named one of the most prestigious historic hotels in America.

“Henry Sawyer had married a Cape May girl, and he always wanted to have his own hotel, so after the war, he built the Chalfonte Hotel in 1876,” says Philadelphia writer Karen Fox, who has written a book called, appropriately, The Chalfonte.

Henry Sawyer was a Civil War hero who was left for dead on the battlefield, then held prisoner by the Confederate Army, narrowly avoiding execution.

foxbook side2 Positively Philadelphia:  An Historic Hotel In Nearby Cape May, N.J.“It is a building that truly has a life of its own,” says Fox about the hotel that Sawyer built a decade later.  “It speaks to you.”

Some of the foods served over the years are the same as when the hotel first opened, and it is still made by descendants  of the original family of cooks, including two women who are in their 80s.

“Nobody can make yeast-risen rolls like Lucille, or fry the chicken like Dot,” Fox says.

Every hotel has its history and its secrets.   But none like the Chalfonte.

“It has never been over-remodeled, so you can stay there, feel the ocean breezes, sit on those verandas, and feel like people did back in 1876. ”

…and, dream!

That’s “Positively Philadelphia!”

You can hear the entire intriguing history of the Chalfonte from Karen Fox in this CBS Philly podcast…

Download the podcast (runs 17:44)

“Positively Philadelphia” main page

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