Ocean City, Maryland – Then & Now Lot 101
“The Washington”, “The Brighton” and “The Cavalier”
"The Washington Hotel", looking northwest from Talbot Street circa 1898
Photograph Courtesy of Edward Hammond
Robert C. Quillin of Berlin paid $100 in 1895 to acquire lot 101. Quillin, a former U.S. Life-Saving Service surfman, was engaged in the manufacture of cement blocks following his retirement from the Service. In December 1897 he purchased the “Mordecai cottage”, located on the beachfront on the north side of South 6th Street. The cottage had been erected several years earlier for Emma Mordecai, a prominent member of Baltimore’s Jewish community whose well-known “Letters from Richmond” had vividly described the siege and fall of the Confederate capital to Union forces in 1864 and 1865 to her friends in Baltimore.
Quillin had the cottage moved from South 6th Street to his lot on Talbot Street “near the Catholic church”, and then borrowed $600 from the Ocean City Life-Saving Station keeper Joshua J. Dunton to finance the expansion of the cottage into a hotel. “The Washington Hotel” opened for the summer season of 1898. For reasons unknown, Quillin decided to change the name to “The Brighton” in 1899. Newspaper advertisements from the early 1900s touted the Brighton as a “first class family hotel; 300 feet from surf; enlarged and improved; large porches” with “moderate” terms. By 1904 the hotel was also promoting its new “sanitary arrangements”. Quillin acquired the adjoining vacant lot 102 in 1904 after it was discovered that the hotel’s footprint crossed over into the neighboring lot.
The Cavalier Apartments on Talbot Street circa 1940
Cindy Vollmerhausen collection
Flossie Purnell died in January 1940. Although ownership of the Cavalier passed to her three sons, it was her adopted son, William Messick Purnell, and his wife Kathryn who were primarily responsible for its operations. The Cavalier remained a Purnell family venture until 1968 when it was sold to Keyworth and Sarah Birch. Mr. and Mrs. Birch gave the building yet another name, the “High Hope Hotel”.
In the early morning hours of August 1, 1968, less than a month after the deed had been executed, a fire broke out at the High Hope. Firefighters responded quickly, and were able to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby buildings. The fire was blamed on a faulty water heater, which was replaced the next day, and the hotel immediately reopened for business.
Mr. and Mrs. Birch divorced in 1969, with the High Hope going to Sarah. She sold it in 1971 to a Delaware couple, James and Theresa Maloney. The Maloneys worked out a deal in 1973 with two business partners to sell them the apartment building provided they made specified monthly payments and brought the building up to fire code. The arrangement was carried on for ten years until the parties jointly decided to terminate it and sell the building.
The Cavalier Condominium (occonnection.com)
Ruggerio executed a condominium declaration for the “Cavalier Condominium” in 1985, converting the former rental apartments into 15 individually owned one and two bedroom units offered at $30,000 to $35,000. Prices today range from around $100,000 to $125,000.
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