Ocean City, Maryland Then & Now - Lot 9, The Major Part Of Lot 10 & The Easterly 1/2 Of Lot 25
Part Two: From 1913 To The Present
Dr. Townsend’s residence on Baltimore Avenue
Dr. Townsend was responsible for another Ocean City landmark, a bandstand he erected on the beach opposite his pharmacy at Somerset Street. Frank Sacca, the owner of the Adelphia Restaurant and Hotel on Baltimore Avenue and Dorchester Street, was an accomplished musician and led the concerts held there. Afterwards, the crowds who had gathered dropped in for refreshments at Dr. Townsend’s soda fountain. Mr. Sacca persuaded the Town Council to add a band shell to the structure in 1949, but after his death in 1955 the facility was gradually abandoned and became an eyesore. The city finally tore it down in 1969.
The North Washington Pharmacy on the Boardwalk at 6th Street
Dr. Townsend, Jr. and his wife, the former Lillian Taylor, assumed full ownership of the property at Somerset Street in 1965 after Frank’s mother and sister transferred their interests to them. The old pharmacy building was torn down and replaced in 1966 by The Colony apartment building, featuring six storefronts on the Boardwalk level and eight one bedroom units on the second floor. The Townsends agreed in December 1977 to sell the apartment building to Edward and Irene Devlin from Margate, New Jersey. “Eddie” Devlin was an Atlantic City boardwalk entrepreneur, who had dropped out of law school in 1950 to open a small souvenir stand on the Million Dollar Pier that eventually expanded into a chain of six stores in various resort towns called “Irene’s Souvenirs”. His real estate portfolio included five other boardwalk properties, skillfully assembled before casino gaming was approved in the New Jersey resort in 1978. Devlin had close ties to local government officials, which he acknowledged simply by saying that “Being connected in Atlantic City politics helped. We’ll leave it at that.”
Looking south down the Boardwalk ca. 1968. The Colony apartment building is on the right, across Somerset Street from the Atlantic Hotel. The pier building can be seen on the left.
The Devlins remained property owners in Ocean City for about a decade. Dennis Devlin initially made a favorable impression in the local business community, but he was later dogged by legal issues. Both he and his parents sold out in 1989, cashing in smartly on their investments. Dennis Devlin sold The Colony apartment building for $3.9 million to a company headed by Ocean City businessman Antonio “Tony” Russo, the owner of Tony’s Pizza restaurant on the Boardwalk at North Division Street. Devlin took his profits and moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, where he and his mother purchased the Desert Inn motel located on that city’s famous beachfront.
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