By Matt Petrillo

CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) — Eyewitness News is continuing our Justice For All series by heading to Cape May County to introduce you to a white businessman who made it his mission to save the area’s almost forgotten and formerly Black-only hotel. It’s called the New Cape May Hotel, located on Jackson and Perry Streets.

It was the last of five hotels in Cape May for African Americans only during segregation.

“This is the only one that’s still standing,” Cape May businessman Bob Mullock said.

Mullock bought the building in the 1980s when it was set to be demolished.

“It’s always easier to build new,” Mullock said. “But the end product is so much better when you can restore rather than just knockdown.”

Here’s what the New Cape May Hotel used to look like, courtesy of The Center for Community Arts.

Credit: The Center for Community Arts

Its nickname was Richardson’s Hotel and it served middle-class Black families during segregation.

“Once you lose these buildings, you also lose the history,” Mullock said. “So it’s not only the structure you’re preserving, it’s the history of it.”

But the New Cape May Hotel no longer operates as a hotel. Instead, part of it has been converted into a variety of stores, including a wedding dress shop called Free Love Bridal.

Still, the historical significance of the building has not been lost to those working there.

“This used to be an all African American hotel and this actual section, Free Love, used to be the saloon part of the hotel itself,” Free Love Bridal owner Tim Gay said.

What was once a hotel serving guests is now serving as a reminder to remember our past.