The Best Historic Walking Tour I Ever Took

The Best Historic Walking Tour

A new exhibit opening at the Carriage House Gallery reminds me of a wonderful evening Cape May Center for Community Artsthat Susan and I spent at the Chalfonte last year. We were invited by Bernadette Mathews, the director of the Center for Community Arts in Cape May, to have dinner and see a slide show about a tour that they offer in town. The tour is the African American Heritage Walking Tour of Cape May. It runs twice a week from June through September and is the very best that local history can be. The slide show was an armchair version of the walking tour, to introduce bed and breakfast owners to the tour and urge them to recommend it to their guests.

Cape May Center for Community Arts
Bernadette Mathews

With every slide, our neighbor, Emily Dempsey pointed out that half of the people in the photo were her relatives. Whether the subject was visiting celebrities or African American organizations, Emily and her relatives were always front-and-center. Apparently, she is related to the entire African American community of Cape May. The tour told the story of the parallel institutions that black people founded during the segregated era of Cape May, and tied their local experience to the larger themes of national history. The tour was filled with wonderful personal anecdotes that made the history of the black community in Cape May vivid and immediate. It was as good as a history tour can get.

If you are coming to visit Leith Hall this coming summer, remember to book this tour. If you are coming to visit us this winter, there’s a great show at the Carriage House Gallery at the Physick Estate that I can recommend.