It's Hot: 27th annual house tour

28th Avenue in Longport.
28th Avenue in Longport.
Posted: August 03, 2014

Want to take a peek inside some palatial beach houses?

You'll have your chance on Monday, when the Jewish Family Service of Atlantic and Cape May Counties hosts its 27th annual House Tour. Six luxurious Shore homes, in the upscale Downbeach section of the Jersey Shore which includes the towns of Ventnor, Margate and Longport, are in this year's event.

"I think this is something that people wait for all year . . . they come from all over the Shore and from Philadelphia, New York, Cherry Hill and they really make a day of it enjoying themselves going from house to house and then going out for lunch. It's really something special," said Beth Joseph-Arentz, a spokeswoman for JFS, a multiservice family counseling agency.

Unlike some house tours that feature "show houses" on which a cadre of designers have teased, combed and manicured the places into perfection fit for a magazine, the homes featured in the annual JFS event are actually lived in - some as summer homes and others as year-round properties, said Joseph-Arentz.

But that doesn't mean they aren't spectacular. Some are large properties, with as many as eight bedrooms and million-dollar views of the ocean, while others may be more average in size but with such charming features as amazing art collections, huge custom-made chandeliers or interesting personal collections.

"We really try to make sure that all the houses on the tour each year showcase different themes and decors . . . that they are something that is visually interesting for attendees to see," said Joseph-Arentz. "But all of them are decorated for living, by the people who actually live there."

Last year, a bay-front home featured in the tour showcased water views on three sides while one this year, the home of an artist, features an extensive collection of pigs - an animal beloved by the owner - throughout the home. Another is built around the family's rescue dogs, Joseph-Arentz said.

The event began in 1987 as a fund-raiser for the agency's older-adult services program. It continues to help bring in funding for Village by the Shore, which provides a variety of volunteer, concierge and professional services and socialization for adults over age 50 in the community.

Tickets for the tour are $50 a person and can be purchased at The house tour will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In the 27 years since the fund-raiser began, Joseph-Arentz said, more than 100 Downbeach homes have been featured and the event has raised more than $1 million for the organization. About 100 volunteers help out.

Organizers expect to sell about 1,000 tickets. So far, about 650 tickets have been purchased, including 50 VIP tickets for $60 each that will include door-to-door transportation between the properties and a "fast pass," allowing ticket holders to skip to the front of the line.

Johanna Perskie, cochair of the tour, said organizers listened to feedback from previous tours to come up with this year's VIP treatment. Some people have trouble getting from house to house because they don't drive or have trouble parking and walking long distances in busy Shore communities. Others simply want to complete the route quickly.

"This offers attendees another element of enjoyment and convenience, adding to the already amazing house tour," said Perskie.

Each house will have guides, and two will have food tastings: one by celebrated chef Luke Palladino's catering company and another by All Seasons Catering Shackamaxon of Philadelphia.

Contact Jacqueline L. Urgo at

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