‘What the Heck Is That Thing?’ – New Theme in 2016-17 for Guided Tours of Cape May’s 1879 Physick Estate

Shown here is a magic lantern, one of the Victorian era gadgets visitors will see and hear about during guided tours of the 1879 Physick Estate. Lanterns were the precursors to 20th Century slide projectors and were used for entertainment and education. Photo by Susan Krysiak/Courtesy of MAC.

CAPE MAY – The Victorians used tools in the home that would bewilder the 21st century householder. Such gizmos as button hooks and magic lanterns had a specific use for Victorians, but today are obsolete.

Learn about curious gadgets like these, how they worked and why they were as essential to Victorians as smart phones are to us today during guided tours of the Emlen Physick Estate now through April 2017.

The Emlen Physick Estate is an 18-room mansion built in 1879, attributed to renowned architect Frank Furness. The Physick Estate is one of the finest examples of Victorian “Stick Style” architecture in America. Visitors will learn about Victorian life and the fascinating history of the estate and its former inhabitants. The Physick Estate was built for a rather unusual household: Dr. Emlen Physick, who never married; his widowed mother, Mrs. Ralston; and his maiden aunt, Emilie. Dr. Physick was descended from a famous and wealthy Philadelphia medical family. His grandfather, Dr. Philip Syng Physick, was known as the Father of American Surgery and invented the stomach pump.

This new house tour theme will be offered through April 2017, except during the Halloween and Christmas holiday seasons. Guided tours are offered daily through the end of the year; hours vary. Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children (ages 3-12). Tours can also be combined with trolley tours of Cape May’s Historic District for $22 for adults and $14 for children (ages 3-12). Also available are Physick Estate Children’s Tours, especially geared to children ages 5-10, on Mondays, July 4 through Aug. 29 at 11:45 a.m.; admission is $8 per person.

The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all. For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals and special events, call (609) 884-5404 or (800) 275-4278, or visit MAC’s website at www.capemaymac.org. For information about restaurants, accommodations and shopping, call the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May at (609) 884-5508. For information about historic accommodations, contact Cape May Historic Accommodations at www.capemaylodging.com.