Welcome to the Emlen Physick Estate,
Cape May, New Jersey's only Victorian house museum
A visit to the Physick Estate today offers a look back at our Victorian past as evidenced by its architecture, decorative arts, customs, and the lives of one particular Cape May family, the Physicks. Emlen Physick Jr., his widowed mother, Frances Ralston, and his maiden aunt Emilie Parmentier moved into their home when it was completed in 1879.
Emlen, who never married, was descended from a famous and wealthy Philadelphia family.
His grandfather, Dr. Philip Syng Physick, was considered the father of American surgery and invented numerous surgical procedures and medical instruments that are still in use today.
While he did graduate from medical school, Emlen never practiced medicine. In Cape May, he led the life of a gentleman farmer, owning two tenant farms and keeping livestock on his estate on Washington Street.
He bought and sold a great deal of real estate in Cape May, and took an active interest in local doings by voicing his opinions at city council meetings.
The Physicks' distinctive home illustrates their changing tastes as well as the particulars of the Victorian lifestyle in Cape May.
NEW THEME FOR 2013: Victorian Luxuries
This year our theme at the Physick Estate is Victorian Luxuries – that is, the differences between this house and a regular middle-class home. Our idea of what’s luxurious is really the Victorian idea. When the world is filled with identical factory-made things, handmade is viewed as luxurious. When everything around you is mass-produced, custom designed just-for-you is luxurious. When the technology of everyday life is changing fast, having the very latest gadget is luxurious. Dr. Physick’s vases were handmade and hand-painted faience. His house and even his furniture was architect-designed – no off-the-shelf retail stuff for him. He had indoor bathrooms and piped hot water when everyone around him contented themselves with outhouses and boiling water in pots on the stove. Dr. P. was clearly the classy, cool, man-about-town of Victorian Cape May – the James Bond of his day. See the trappings of his life of luxury during tours of the Emlen Physick Estate beginning April 26.
|Visit our Curator's Blog||Follow us on facebook|