Bed & Breakfast   


The Mainstay Inn’s history begins in 1872.  Designed by the famous Philadelphia architect Stephen Decatur Button, it was originally established as a private gambling club.  The buildings beauty and elegance was recognized by a writer for the Cape May Ocean Wave as early as June, 1872:


The New Club House - In the design on this model building which now adds to the attractiveness of Columbia Avenue, Mr. S. D. Button, the architect, has won himself additional honors...It is symmetrical in its proportions, airy and cheerful in its appointments, and finished in that unpretentious elegance so foreign to mansions of the shoddy order.


The Mainstay Inn was originally known as "The Clubhouse," a 19th century pleasure palace, where gentlemen gathered in an elegant setting for gambling and other amusements.  The Clubhouse operated until the late 1890’s when gambling was made illegal and Cape May was losing ground to Atlantic City, Asbury Park, and Coney Island in popularity.  In 1898 the property was sold to Frances “Fanny” Wistar Scott and continued the tradition of wealthy Philadelphians owning summer cottages in Cape May.  In 1945 the property was sold to the Frank O’Brien family who had wonderful parties that Cape May's older residents still remember. In 1949, Rev. and Mrs. John Pemberton bought the building and converted it to a guest house, The Victorian Mansion, which they operated until the summer of 1976.


In 1972 the entire city of Cape May was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites. The Mainstay was one of sixteen buildings in the city selected to be recorded by The Historic American Buildings Survey. Architectural plans of the building and important historic details were carefully prepared and are now stored in The Library of Congress.


In 1977, Tom and Sue Carroll purchased the building and began an extensive restoration project. They opened a bed-and-breakfast, which they named The Mainstay Inn.  In 1980, the neighboring property was purchased and converted into six additional rooms and the apartment.  Known as “The Cottage” this classic Victorian’s design is also attributed to Stephen Decatur Button and was originally built as a private summer home in 1870. The Cottage is adjacent to the Inn across a brick walkway that transverses a lovely garden with a Victorian fountain.


Tom and Sue continued to own and operate The Mainstay Inn until April of 2004, when the properties were sold.  In March of 2014 the Inn was purchased by its current owners, Pete & Esther Scalone of McLean, VA.  Together with Longtime Innkeeper, Diane Clark, they continue the historic traditions and commitment to hospitality worthy of this special place.







Guests of the inn enjoy breakfast served in our lovely dining room in the spring and fall. In summer a generous buffet is provided, and guests often enjoy their meal on the wide veranda or in the garden.


Special consideration for any dietary restrictions or allergies upon request.

Free Wifi

High speed wireless internet access throughout the Inn, check with the front desk for security password.

Guest Services

  • 24 hour self-service coffee and tea 

  • Ice machine and use of guest refrigerators 

  • Our famous bottomless cookie jars 

  • Concierge service for area services and reservation assistance 

  • Philadelphia and Cape May newspapers each day 

  • Medical refrigeration and sharps containers on request

The Veranda & Garden


For an alternative to the beach or town enjoy our sweeping veranda or the fountain in our side garden. Watch the horse drawn carriage drive by while relaxing at the most photographed spot in town. 

The Cape May Beach


Located just a block away, a City Beach Tag is required for a small fee, but a season pass may be purchased before the end of May for $20 at City Hall.


Beach chairs and beach towels are provided for your use each day.


Guest arriving early or wishing to extend their beach time after checkout have access to our shower and changing room.

Daily Housekeeping


Rooms are serviced every day by our professional staff.  If you chose complete privacy during your stay just "Put the Cat Out" and you will not be disturbed



Google Indoor Street View Tour


Start at the Front door for a 360 degree virtual tour of the Main House,   just point your mouse and click.  You can even go to some of the second floor bedrooms for a look around, just click the "1" & "2" buttons on the bottom right of most browsers to change floors.

More Photographs

Mainstay Front View
Mainstay Front View
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Cape May Light House
Cape May Light House
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Main House Drawing Room
Main House Drawing Room
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Our Address:

The Mainstay Inn & Cottage

635 Columbia Avenue, Cape May  New Jersey  08204

Our Phone Number is:  609-884-8690

Our Web Site is:

We use an integrated on-line reservation system powered by ThinkReservations

Our Email Address is

Always feel free to contact us directly for any additional information or questions about the inn or your upcoming stay, you can use the link below to sent us an email at your option

Thank You and we look forward to seeing you soon in Cape May...

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