Cold Spring Village: A Historic Gem in Cape May County

Historic Cold Spring Village serves as a looking glass into history, bringing to life the day-to-day activities of villagers living in South Jersey during the “age of homespun,” 1789-1840. The Village may reenact history, but it’s had own historical journey, as well.

In 1973, Anne Salvatore and her husband Dr. Joseph Salvatore began collecting historical buildings and bringing them to their 35 acres of land in Cold Spring, NJ, the site of their summer home. The building that started the museum is the Cold Spring Grange Restaurant, the only building in Historic Cold Spring Village which stands on its original site. In 1974, the Salvatores brought in the first outside building, the Tinsmith shop, from Heislerville, Cumberland County, just 3 miles west of the Cape May County border. From there, the site grew to be a collection of 14 buildings as the Salvatores brought in and restored historical buildings located throughout Cape May County. Historic Cold Spring Village was born. The site took about 8 years to develop, officially opening on June 23, 1981 as an outdoor living history museum.

In 1984, Cape May County took the Village over and ran it as a County park. But in 1993, the Village was reverted to a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and is now no longer considered a County park.

In 2006, the Village became home to the oldest building in Cape May County at 325 years old, Coxe Hall Cottage, originally located in the Town Bank section of Lower Township. The building was originally part of a much bigger home named Coxe Hall, built for Dr. Daniel Coxe, who at the time was the colonial governor of West Jersey. The Coxe Hall Cottage is the only surviving section of the original large two-story home.

Today, the Village has evolved from having 14 historic buildings to 27 – the largest outdoor living history museum in state of New Jersey. The Village sits on 20 of the Salvatores’ 35 acres of land. Each building in the Village has an interpreter that is extremely knowledgeable in representing the lifestyles, issues, trades and crafts of yesteryear. Most of the employees are retired, or school teachers that have off in the summer. But most importantly, all of the employees are there because they love history.

The Village’s mission is simple: historic preservation – going as far as using the right style of paint, wood or brick, appropriate to the time period represented; history education – welcoming 3,500 school children between May and June, education them, involving them and creating a magical village that comes to life; and heritage tourism – telling people the story of Cape May County.

But don’t be fooled – Anne and her husband are not the “owners” of the Village, and they haven’t been since 1985. Anne and her husband are the founders, the stewards and volunteers. Their passion and devotion to history education is what keeps the non-profit running. Anne, who is Executive Director of the Village, shared, “Many people have no interest in history, and even I didn’t love it when I had to take it in school. But once I was introduced to living history, I loved it.” She added, “I’ve made it my life experience to learn about all things here.”

“Anne’s passion is contagious,” said Elizabeth Norton, Director of Public Relations and Marketing of the Village. “This place will make you a natural lover of history.”

This year, Historic Cold Spring Village will celebrate its 35th anniversary. Also coming to the Village in the near future is a new microbrewery.

Thank you, Anne Salvatore and Dr. Joseph Salvatore, for bringing a historical treasure to Cape May County, and enhancing the quality of our community life.