Emlen Physick Estate

Posted by junketseo in NYC Haunted Tours
Emlen Physick Estate - Photo

Some may think that spirits are completely transient, moving from one place to another, barely able to stay put in one location. Ghosts are believed to travel along different frequencies, coming and going as they please. However, when it comes to the Emlen Physick Estate, it seems as if someone, or something, is always home.

Known as Cape May’s original haunted house, the mansion was constructed all the way back in 1879 by Dr. Emlen Physick. He had just turned twenty-one and moved into the home with his mother Frances and her two sisters Isabelle and Emilie.

These days, the house is the headquarters for the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities after the group saved the home and its haunts from destruction in the early 1970s. The home has only really been owned by one family, though — the Physicks. No one else has dared move into the old home to turn it into their permanent residence.

So, why is this gorgeous Victorian mansion considered to be one of Jersey’s most haunted properties? Keep reading to find out!

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A Bit About the Physick Family and Mansion


The mansion was designed in the style of American architect Frank Furness and was built in 1879 for Dr. Emlen Physick Jr. He was the descendant of a well-known Philadelphia family. He lived in the home with his widowed mother and her two sisters. The Physick mansion is a good example of ‘Stick Style’ architecture, in which its exterior is distinguished by its oversized features, chimneys, and huge stick-like brackets on the porch.

Dr. Physick’s mother, Francis, died in 1915, followed by Emlen himself a year later in 1916. Aunt Emilie was the last to perish, surviving until 1935. After the family all passed, the home was willed to a neighbor, Frances Brooks, who had been taking care of Emilie in her later years.

Dr. Harry Sidney Newcomer and his wife, Dr. Marian Newcomer, purchased the house around 1945 from Frances Brooks. Dr. Marian died in 1946 and Dr. Sidney then moved on to marry his secretary in 1955. They lived in the home for a couple of years when they reported moving to an apartment downtown because Mrs. Newcomer was afraid to stay in the home due to its ghosts.

They sold the home to Cape May Inns, Inc. in 1967.

A researcher of the home had this to report when she spoke with a woman who was planning to buy the home from Dr. Newcomer:

“she recalled the good doctor explaining to them that as a man of science, he was baffled to explain how ghosts, that should not exist and could not be proven under scientific conditions, truly did exist in his home. He heard the footsteps and noises every night and eventually gave up the notion of investigating the noises after the effort to find someone else (living) in the house became futile.”



Hauntings at the Physick Estate


When this researcher visited the home herself, she had this to say about the entities of the Physick home:

I walked through the house and while my friends were taking in the sites of the historical background of the property, I was taking in the energy of the ghosts. With any haunting, there is a combination of history and mystery.

From what I was told about Aunt Emilie, she was a party girl and very sociable. On the other hand, Frances Ralston ran the house with an iron fist. Aunt Emilie cooked and fed Dr. Physick’s many dogs and would sneak a few into her room, but then Mrs. Ralston would evict the poor pups and have nothing to do with the furry friends in the house.

Entering Aunt Emilie’s old bedroom on the second floor is like visiting an old friend. people have told me they like the feeling in that particular room and some even feel a little “buzz” when they leave. Entering the room of Dr. Physick’s mother is another story. My first visit there made me feel claustrophobic (and it is a big room), queasy and downright depressed. I assessed the feelings; made a few mental notes and left thinking I had my ghosts.

I soon found out that another aunt lived in the house named Isabella Parmentier. She was Frances and Emilie’s younger sister and she died in 1883. I also found out she was confined to a wheelchair and in those days, having a sick family member was an embarrassment and poor Aunt “Belle” was kept upstairs out of sight of friends and guests of the house. Was the despondent feeling coming from Isabella, instead of Frances?”


Staff at the Physick House say they never feel alone while in the home and have even reported the spirits of dogs running about the mansion. It turns out that Dr. Physick loved dogs and had a few of his own. Apparently, there is some disturbance when the dogs are about because Emlen’s mother never allowed them into the house. Aunt Emilie, however, had a softer spot for Dr. Physick’s canine companions and prepared their dinners in the estate’s kitchen and would let them in the house when Physick’s mom was absent.

The estate’s Carriage House is even rumored to be haunted, an entity heard by several staff members.


Haunted East Coast


Cold spots, disembodied voices, apparitions in period clothing, phantom footsteps, and other strange happenings are commonplace at the Physick house. Cape May’s original haunted house continues to live up to its name, allowing visitors the chance to check out the Victorian period while also meeting a few members of the Physick family — in the afterlife!

Want to know more about the spirits of America’s most haunted cities? Check out our blog!