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When we purchased the Inn in October of 1992, we knew that we would have to upgrade the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems for the Inn. We were not sure prior to purchasing the Inn if the foyer entry and chimney staircase was not an addition added at some later time. A review of the framing of the home confirmed that indeed the home was built all at one time and it did not have an addition.

In January of 1993, we closed the Inn and started the task of installing central heat and air conditioning, new electrical service and wiring for the power distribution and some of the lighting, and new bathroom fixtures and piping. Our goal of course was to avoid negatively impacting the interior or exterior architecture of this fine building. We did add some partitions for the added comfort of our guests within the existing suites, mainly for privacy in the two bedroom units.

The main challenge was to remove and replace wall and ceiling finishes and create soffits and chases to run the necessary mechanical and electrical lines and ducts. We were able to accomplish this in a manner that did not impact the interior of the Inn. The real adventure of this process was to find out about the original home and how it was used.

Addition and Renovation to Victorian Lace Inn (2002)

The owner's quarters when Carrie and I purchased the Inn is the dining room. The pocket doors were kept closed to the parlor and that was our private sitting room and bedroom along with our two dogs (Brenie, a Bouvie, and JayJay, a large golden retriever) that came with us from a four-bedroom house on ten acres in Hunterdon County. Our dogs thought we were crazy but they did love meeting all the guests. Fortunately, I did not live at the Inn full time until 2001 when I started to plan an addition to the Inn for our living quarters (now the Cork Suite) and did the construction in the winter of 2002.

The challenge of course was not to impact the architectural interior or exterior of the Inn. The only logical location was the east side of the Inn set back from the front of the building. The problem for the interior was not to take away the openness of the foyer and maintain the architectural detail of the chimney staircase. The foyer had two nice windows but we needed to start the addition between the first and second window. Solution, build a room with a window and maintain the window in the foyer -- a "borrowed light room."

As to the windows on the landings of the chimney staircase we removed the original windows but kept the window frames and designed stained glass windows with backlighting at each level. The window borders are the borders of our website. The exterior detailing followed the "Dutch Colonial" gambrel roof line as it was to be extended form that elevation while the front elevation was carefully detailed to be sympathetic to the shingle style Arts and Crafts dormer and porch design. The deepest compliment about our efforts was from a person on a "renovations tour." While standing on the porch looking at the addition, he asked Carrie where the addition was. Hearing that made my day!

The second part of the construction was to rebuild the porch to its condition prior to the 1963 Northeasterner that wiped out all the railings and left the porch decking and columns in need of repair.

It was not until I saw a photo of the Inn taken right after the September 15,1944 hurricane, (below left) that I noticed that the roof of the front porch had railings and was indeed used by the family as a deck. I knew that two windows went up into the wall to allow access but until seeing that photo was not aware of the railings.

This was great news and immediately incorporated a walkable deck over the porch and reactivated one window to provide access to the deck from the Leitrim Suite, which has great ocean views. The rest of the construction was pretty straight forward - replace or rebuild the columns depending on condition, remove the existing porch deck and install new mahogany deck and framing, repair the porch ceiling and install new fan/lights, remove the aluminum railings and install new wood railings to match the original.

We are very proud that we were able to have the Inn porch look like it did when it was originally constructed.

- Andy O'Sullivan




901 Stockton Avenue, Cape May, New Jersey 08204 | Phone: 609.884.1772 | Fax: 609.884.0983 | innkeeper@victorianlaceinn.com
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