The Visitor's Church for over a century


In the early days of Cape May, there was no church on the island. Presbyterians living here were members of the Cold Spring Presbyterian Church, three miles to the north. As early as 1832, there was a Presbyterian Sunday School under the care of the Cold Spring Church; church services were held on Sundays and week-day evenings in the Cape May schoolhouse, or sometimes in hotel dining rooms, especially in the summer.

In 1844, with generous support from summer visitors, the Presbyterians residing on Cape May Island erected a church building costing $4,000 on Washington Street, which was called The Visitor’s Church.

In 1850, thirty-one people from Cape May petitioned for permission to organize the Cape Island Presbyterian Church as a congregation, and permission was granted on May 21, 1851. The church building on Washington Street was sold to the First Methodist Church and a lot was purchased for $900 on Lafayette Street between Jackson and Bank Streets. A church was built there for $7,000, again known as The Visitor’s Church, and this building is presently the home of Cape May Stage (formerly the Welcome Center).

By 1892, more space was needed by the congregation and the Holland lot on the corner of Hughes and Decatur Streets purchased for $6,500.

In 1898, the present stone building was completed, a fine example of Gothic Revival, at a cost of $21,500. Inside are vaulted ceilings an dmagnificent stained glass windows, donated as memorials by parishioners. The church was dedicated in August of 1899 and was named The First Presbyterian Church of the City of Cape May. After the city installed parking meteres, it was decided to purchase the Story property next door to the church, tear down the house, and create a parking lot.

The Centennial Anniversary of the present building was held in 1998 with a number of special events all year long. Throughout the history of our church, the members have been deeply involved in ministry to the community. Various community groups have used our building and it has housed the Community Food Closet, maintained and overseen by our Board of Deacons, since 1982.