The Cape May County Historical & Genealogical Society presented its annual Heritage Award to John and Betsy Way, of Wildwood Crest, for their preservation of the Palmer Way House, in which they live, and Joan Berkey and husband Scott Smith for their preservation of The Thomas Ludlam Jr. House in Dennis Township.

The awards were presented during a dinner Nov. 29 at the Lobster House in the Schellingers Landing section of Lower Township.

Cape May County Museum Director Pary Tell, said the Heritage Award is dedicated to individuals who have contributed to the preservation of Cape May County history.

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John Way said James Dunlap from Philadelphia built the Palmer Way House in 1925. Way's grandfather, Judge Palmer Way, and his wife purchased the house in 1935, and John's parents later inherited it. When they died it was passed down to John and his wife, Betsy. John and Besty Way have since completely restored and renovated the house.

"There really hadn't been much done to it over the years," John said, "which is nice, because a lot of the old woodwork and such is still intact."

The first time Joan Berkey stepped inside the historic Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House in Dennis Township, she knew it would one day be hers.

"I just knew it. I could feel it," said Berkey, of the historic house that dates back to the late 18th century and is still in much of its original condition today. "I went home and said to my husband, 'I saw the coolest house today. All it needs is some cosmetics.'"

The Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House was built in 1790 on Jake's Landing Road. It was moved to the corner of Jake's Landing Road and Route 47 in the late 1800s and to its present location off Route 47 in South Dennis in 1972.

Berkey, a historic preservation consultant, and her husband Scott Smith, a retired custom builder, purchased the house in 2007 from George Masselos, an antiques dealer who has since died.

"I think he paid $100 for the house, and it was in terrible shape," Berkey said.

Masselos had started to restore the house, but he never finished, and he never lived in it.

After purchasing the house, Berkey and Smith spent two years on restorations. They moved into the house in 2009 and completed an extensive renovation on its rear this past July.

Berkey said the last time a family had lived inside the house, before she and her husband, was in the 1930s.

The house has been selected as this year's featured house on the Historic Dennisville Christmas House Tour, Saturday, Dec. 15. Berkey said its likely that the house is getting a great deal of attention this year because of the completion of the rear addition, which included a full kitchen and full bathroom on its first floor and additional two bedrooms on its second floor.

Before the addition, the house had a small kitchen, two small living spaces, three bedrooms - one of which is just 6 feet wide - and one small bathroom.

Berkey said the main incentive for an addition was to protect the house's future.

"As it was, it wasn't a large enough home for today's modern family," she said. "We feared that without the addition, the next homeowner might tear it down, and we all know there are enough tear downs in Cape May County."

The Upper Township Committee received the Legacy Award for its support of the Historical Preservation Society of Upper Township, and Catherine Gibbons, of Upper Township, received the Young Historian Award.

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