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Christmas at Cape May’s Designer House

Cape May’s 2007 Designer Show House at 608 Hughes St. is decorated for the holidays and open for your enjoyment for the first time in the Cape May Designer Show House history.

The character of an old house is reflected by the architectural styles that mark its history, and the 1847 Memucan Hughes House is no exception. From the sidewalk, the house presents an elegant Federal-style arrangement. On the left is the original three-bay house with a door on the side, once called a “half house.” The Hughes family, however, wanted a whole house and the addition with three windows was added on the right side of the original Federal door with its trademark fanlight.

A late 19th century renovation introduced two-over-two double-hung windows, probably replacing the more traditional six-over-six Federal-style windows. Such changes usually were indicators of wealth and position: The larger the pane of glass, the more expensive and elegant the window.

All these elements of style, elegance and opulence have been brought to the foreground with the choices the designers made in decorating for the holidays.

Lorraine Kiefer, floral designer and owner of Triple Oaks Nursery in Franklinville arrived at the Memucan Hughes House with a van full of mixed greens and berries for the window boxes, ribbons, and a wreath for the front door.Karen Fox, certified floral designer, brought Jersey garland from Monroeville and Cape May Garden Club volunteers Nancy Beale, Stina Ferguson, Liz Favre and Karen Fagan came to lend a helping hand. This talented team trimmed the outside with traditional Christmas decorations and transformed the house into a festive treasure for the holidays.

Pedro Rodriguez turned his stylish sun porch into a white Christmas dining area complete with a crystal chandelier. Cape May resident and retired florist, Babara Dagget turned the formal study into a festive Sea Captain’s retreat where you can warm your feet by the fire. Vera Bahou decorated the dining room, and state-of-the art kitchen with an abundance of Christmas cheer. Joseph Tenaglia Jr. turned his wine cellar into an intimate holiday gathering place where you can imagine sharing fine spirits for the season with friends. Linda Daly once again designed the third floor media and game rooms. A tree, toys, and trains reflect an old-fashioned Christmas feel amid all the latest technology. Daly also decorated the third floor bathroom with sights and scents for the season. MJ Soens transformed the formal parlor with a Christmas tree and décor inspired by nature.

The Show House would not be complete for Christmas without a lighted 10-foot tree in the backyard garden. MAC Special Events Director, Anne Fitzsimons, MAC Tearoom Director, Denis Bellanger, and MAC Communications Coordinator, Margo Harvey traveled to Eisele’s Tree Farm in Petersburg, NJ to hand select the Designer Show House tree. Not only did the two find the perfect tree, but they also discovered where Santa lives in his down time: Eisele’s Tree Farm owner, Bill Eisele wore red and even had white hair and a beard and was full of the great holiday spirit one would expect from someone who grows Christmas trees. He cut down the 10-foot Douglas fir and helped load the tree into the truck.

The cellar, first floor, and third floor of this spectacular 1847 manor house are don’t miss for the holiday season. The home will be open for self-guided tours from noon to 3 p.m. now through Monday January 1 (closed Christmas). Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-12. The Show House is also featured on the new Holiday Inns Tour, A Cape May Christmas Tour, and the 34th Annual Christmas Candlelight House Tour (first floor only).

Don’t miss your final chance to see this year’s magnificent property and experience the Cape May Designer Show House at Christmas Tour, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC), through January 1. For more information call 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s website at

All photographs by M.P. Myers Photography.