A devastating fire destroyed what was described as the largest resort hotel on earth on this day in 1856. The Mount Vernon Hotel in Cape May burned to the ground because of suspected arson, according to the book, On This Day in New Jersey History.

The hotel could accommodate over 2,000 in guests in 432 rooms. Cape May had no fire department at the time, so the hotel burned to the ground. The hotel manager and most of his family were killed in the blaze. Fortunately, it was a stand alone building, so the fire didn’t spread to the rest of Cape May City. According to Wikipedia, the hotel was unfinished at the time. According to the New York Times, an Irish domestic was suspected as the arsonist; he was questioned and held, but later released due to lack of evidence.

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