Cape May’s Most Unique Hotel
The Montreal Beach Resort’s story starts as far from Cape May’s sandy shores as anyone could possibly imagine. Harry and Sophie Hirsch, a young couple from Poland seeking a better life after World War II, decide to leave the life they knew for the United States and their chance at the American Dream.
Harry and Sophie arrived in a Philadelphia port via cargo ship in 1951. Having been raised in the isolated villages of Poland, neither spoke a word of English at the time. However, relying on their perseverance, good fortune and the kindness of strangers, they began to build a life for themselves in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.
Harry’s skills as a carpenter served him well, allowing him to work a series of construction jobs to make ends meet. In 1955, Harry and Sophie chose to leave city life behind and settle down in the countryside. Thanks to loan from his uncle, Harry set up a chicken farm in the small agricultural town of Corbin City, New Jersey. Years of hard work paid off and the farm grew, prompting Harry and Sophie to open an egg and poultry delivery service, providing provisions to local restaurants. Harry’s route often took him to the Jersey Shore and, at times, to Cape May – a town with which he and Sophie began to fall in love.
In 1965, beachfront property became available at the corner of Beach Drive and Madison Avenue. Harry and Sophie knew they had to have it and planned to build a home for their family. However, only after buying the land and signing the contract, they learned they were not permitted to build a home there; they had to build a business. At first devastated by the news, they soon came to realize their error was actually an opportunity. In a matter of months, they began construction on a 27-room motel.
Being the youngest in a large family, Harry hoped to recreate the family-style atmosphere from the “old country” he loved so much. Visitors from around the country and the world began to flock to Cape May for its beautiful beaches and historic Victorian architecture. The small motel simply couldn’t meet the demand, so Harry and Sophie began to expand. A third floor was added, then a fourth – creating the 70-room hotel of the present day. Sophie passed away in 1975, but shortly thereafter, son Larry joined his younger brother Joseph and entered the family business full-time. Nearly half a century after its founding, the Montreal Inn is now a three-generational family operation. The Inn’s founder, Harry, passed away in 2011.
Today, the Montreal Inn continues to evolve and was renamed the Montreal Beach Resort. This premier resort in Cape May, New Jersey and one of only a handful along the entire Jersey Shore is under the continuous management of a single family. But despite growth and changing times, the Hirsch Family never wavers from its core principle of treating customers like family.