The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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Ocean City, Maryland – Then & Now Lot 101
“The Washington”, “The Brighton” and “The Cavalier”
by Gordon E. Katz
April 2014


"The Washington Hotel", looking northwest from Talbot Street circa 1898
Photograph Courtesy of Edward Hammond
Lot 101 fronts 50 feet on the north side of Talbot Street, beginning about 100 feet east of Philadelphia Avenue. Lot 102 joins the northerly line of lot 101, fronting 50 feet on the south side of Caroline Street. Both lots were drawn at the special meeting of the Atlantic Hotel Company stockholders held on August 31, 1875, but neither stockholder ever bothered to pay the required fee of $100 to obtain a deed. The town placed the lots on the tax rolls in 1886 anyway. After assessments totaling $1.05 for each lot for the tax years 1887 through 1889 went unpaid, lots 101 and 102 were auctioned off on August 12, 1890 to Francis H. Purnell and his business partner William R. Rayne for high bids of $12 and $39 respectively.
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
In 1919 Robert Quillin took out a mortgage of $600 from Mattie Taylor, presumably to underwrite additional improvements to the hotel. The note was due in one year, but inexplicably the debt was never settled by Quillin during his lifetime. After his children had inherited the hotel property, Mrs. Taylor, for her own reasons, decided in 1937 to call the note. The children were unable to pay, and Mrs. Taylor assigned the note to a young attorney named John L. Sanford, Jr. for foreclosure. A public auction was held on January 22, 1938, but the bids were deemed inadequate. A second auction took place four months later on May 14 at which the court-appointed trustees accepted the high bid of $1,701 entered by Flossie Purnell, the wife of Atlantic Hotel owner Dr. Charles W. Purnell. Following the conveyance and a major overhaul of the old structure, Mrs. Purnell renamed the building “The Cavalier Apartments”.
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)
In 1983 a 63-year-old widow named Ferol F. Masken, recently retired from a long career with the Hutzler’s department store chain in Baltimore, bought the Cavalier for $130,000. Mrs. Masken’s new career as the owner-operator of summer rental apartments in Ocean City lasted less than a year. She accepted an offer of $150,000 from Russell “Bo” Ruggerio for the building, and headed to her native West Virginia for the remainder of her retirement years.
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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