PIER BUILDING – Erected around 1926, the current pier building stands in the same location as the first pavilion, which was finished in July 1907. Facing the entrance to the city pier, the pavilions have been a focal point for entertainment and commercial activity since the early twentieth century. The extant two-story, nine-bay by five-bay frame building is enhanced by tapered pilasters that define the corners of the structure as well as the principal elevation. Ocean City’s neoclassical pier building is the only example of entertainment-related seaside architecture in Maryland. The building’s second floor was originally a ballroom.
The 1907 pavilion had a long arched roof with large, round-arched windows lighting the first and second floors. It contained a dancing pavilion, skating rink, bowling alleys, pool room and refreshment booths.
OCEAN CITY LIFE-SAVING STATION MUSEUM – The early history of the lifesaving service in Ocean City dates from 1878, when the first station was built on the periphery of the resort community between North Division and Caroline streets. The station was erected with its gable-front doors facing the ocean.
In 1890-91 a large, two-story frame station was built in front of the earlier structure. The first station was left freestanding and was used to house a lifesaving boat. Later, the old station was connected by a hyphen and converted for use as a service wing. The station was enlarged again in 1912-13, with a story-and-a-half wing.
In 1977 the station was moved from Caroline Street to the inlet and converted to a city museum. It is the only extant station of its type in Maryland. The present color scheme, with white walls, green trim, and a red roof, dates from the years when the building was operated by the Coast Guard.
The frame station is sheathed with a combination of board-and-batten and German siding. Distinctive original features include the king-post truss stick decoration within the eaves and the rooftop observation tower on the south end of the station. The interior retains much of its beaded board walls and ceilings. Admission Fee.
UNITED STATES COAST GUARD TOWER – Erected in 1934-35 to aid the coast guard in their lifesaving services as well as a sentinel for German U-boats during WW II. It is the oldest observation tower still standing on Maryland’s seashore. It is a five-story, braced metal structure. The platform cabin is not open to the public.
TRIMPER’S CAROUSEL – One of the oldest fixtures on the boardwalk is the carousel at Trimper’s Amusements, in continuous operation since its 1912 installation. It is the country’s oldest continuously operating carousel. Featuring two tiers of elaborately carved and painted animals, this Herschel-Spellman carousel dates from 1902. A multi-sided screen of painted panels and lights disguises the center pivot and power source. The entire carousel is sheltered under an octagonal metal post structure distinguished by a row of paired twelve-pane clerestory windows.
ATLANTIC HOTEL – The Atlantic Hotel has long been a fixture in Ocean City. It was one of the first hotels to offer accommodations to the public. The current, three-story, H-shaped frame hotel is an early twentieth century replacement of the Victorian hotel that burned in December, 1925. The boardwalk elevation of the hotel is dominated by a single-story brick commercial front erected during the last thirty years. Despite the disfigurement of the east front, the Atlantic Hotel is one of the most prominent old hotel structures left in OC. Subtle period details such as broad hip roofs, corner pilasters, exterior brick chimneys, and six-over-six sash windows contribute to the early twentieth character of the building.
In 1874 the Atlantic Hotel Company gathered at E. Stanley Toadvine’s office in Salisbury to discuss the new resort. It was at this meeting that the decision was made to name the resort Ocean City.
In 1876 a fifty-acre tract known as “Ladies Resort to the Ocean” was acquired by Hillary R. Pitts, B. Jones Taylor and George W. Purnell. They erected a three-and-a-half story frame hotel between Somerset and Wicomico streets facing the ocean. The 1925 fire that destroyed this building also consumed the nearby Seaside Hotel and the former Pier building. The present large building was erected in its place by Charles W. Purnell, who had acquired the hotel property in June 1922. The Purnell family still operates the business.
LANKFORD HOTEL – The Lankford Hotel is one of the best-preserved of the old hotels to remain in Ocean City. The colossal Tuscan-columned beach-front facade has remained intact. The third floor porch, sheltered by an extension of the hip roof, provides an elevated and protected location from which to enjoy the ocean view.
Construction of the three-and-a-half story Lankford Hotel is dated to 1923-24. Mary B. Quillen built and operated the hotel. In honor of an inheritance from her aunt Amelia Coffin Lankford, Mary Quillen named the hotel for her. Ownership has remained in the family.
BEACH PLAZA HOTEL – Built in 1954 by Ethel Griffin Kelley and her son Harry Kelley, a former mayor of Ocean City. Richard Nixon and his family spent many vacations here. Bryce and Shirley Phillips have owned and operated the hotel since 1970.
COMMANDER HOTEL – The current Commander Hotel was built in 1998 on the site of the original Commander, built in 1929-30 by Minnie Lynch. For many years this hotel was the northernmost hotel in the city, and marked the end of the boardwalk. It remains in the Lynch family.
HARRISON HALL HOTEL – The Harrison Hall was built by G. Hale and Lois C. Harrison in 1951. It was the last of the large resort hotels to be built. It remains in the Harrison family.
SANTA MARIA MOTEL – The Santa Maria was Ocean City’s first Motor Hotel. In 1956 Willey Jones Ludlam financed the construction of this three-story, poured concrete hotel and restaurant with a personal loan as no bank would accept the risk of a mortgage on this radical hospitality concept. The location was also considered too far north to be successful. The old hotels were focused inward, with common rooms for dining, registration, and socializing. The new hotels catered to those arriving by automobile and were focused on the exterior; no common spaces inside and individual balconies on the outside.
The low-slung appearance of the motel, with its flat roof and clean stucco exterior with minimal architectural decoration, pointed to the Art Modern movement in twentieth century architecture. The property is still owned and operated by Mrs. Ludlam’s descendants. This is where the Courtyard by Marriot sits now, still with the delicious and delectable Captain’s Table Restaurant is still located.
THE SEASCAPE – The Seascape was built in 1954. It was the first motel built in Ocean City. The swimming pool was originally built on the ocean-front. During the storm of March 1962 the ocean waves pushed the pool through what was then the Ocean Room Restaurant and deposited it on the west side of the building (where it remains).