Alexander Graham Bell was granted the first patent for a telephone on March 7, 1876. As early as 1889, citizens were clamoring for a telephone between Cape May and Philadelphia. Telephones wouldn’t come to the resort for another six years, and it was only a local line. A line between Cape May and Philadelphia wasn’t operational until a year after the local lines were installed, in 1896.
In Spring of 1895, the Cape May Wave published an article about Cape May’s first telephone system. The article yields
some interesting information. It cost $16 per year for private houses, and $30 per year for businesses to have a phone. There were 43 locations that had telephones around Cape May and of those, only two were private residences. They were J. Henry Edmunds, the manager of the phone company, and Dr. Emlen Physick.
An oral history stated Dr. Physick had two telephones in the early 20th century. Most likely one was for local calls and the other was for long distance. Interestingly, Dr. Physick didn’t have the phones in the house, but on the sunporch (facing the tennis courts). Since the sun porch is not on tour, we decided to put this vintage telephone in the sitting room.