The Pebbles Guest House, built in 1909, is situated on the southeast corner of 94th Street and First Ave. In it’s history it has had three owners.
Constructed on 3,000 pilings, the Gothic style home was built by John Irwin, a wealthy Philadelphia politician. Although said to have been built for his wife, two children and mother-in-law, Irwin designed the house to suit his own likes. One of his inclusions, secret staircases within the house’s structure, were originally hidden behind walls for the servants, so that their presence did not disturb family and guests.
The dining room is a distinctive room with French doors strategically placed between two large picture windows to provide spectacular ocean view. One can visualize guests attired in late Victorian dress taking their appointed seats at a turn of the century dinner party. All enjoyed the breathtaking views because mirrors lined the walls facing the ocean. At one such party, the popular New York Rockettes performed. Irwin entertained many politicians, including NJ Governor Woodrow Wilson, who later became President, and NY Mayor Jimmy Walker.
When Irwin died in 1939, his estate was sold to Carlton Rickard and Dola Maczalmong. It was then that the house was opened as a guesthouse. The couple took up all the grass in the yard and laid pebbles, giving the house its’ present name. During the 1944 hurricane, Rickards opened the Pebbles to Stone Harbor residents who did not evacuate the island. The boardwalk and beachfront properties were washed away; the Pebbles remained a safe haven, sustaining the storm’s fury.
In 1943 a very young John Curto made a trip to the shore with his parents and visited the Pebbles, which made an incredible impression on him. Each following season he visited “Uncle Carl”, as everyone called Mr. Rickards. By 1971 the guesthouse was in dire need of repair. That’s when John Curto became the third and present owner of the Pebbles. Over the years John busied himself with repairs and restoration. He replaced the roof, electric service and plumbing. He added heating and air-conditioning, a new porch, garage and patio. Curto was careful to preserve original furniture and furnishings, window treatments, wood trim and stained glass windows.
Over the years John Curto has welcomed guests from all over the world to enjoy a vacation here in Cape May County. John has also held numerous galas and parties benefiting the Friends of the Ocean City Pops, the Stone Harbor Museum and other nonprofit organizations. John is now looking forward to spending more time in his other home in Madeira Portugal. John’s son Paul Yurasheich now has purchased the Pebbles in late 2016 and is in the process of doing some historical restorations.