Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum
Rosalie Tilghman Shreve
Rosalie Tilghman Shreve


The original land patent for Ocean City is, The Ladies Resort To The Ocean. It is well known that the men first broke the ground at Ocean City, but the women transformed this drowsy fishing village into a billion dollar resort.

Ocean City's Petticoat Regime begins in 1890 when a woman experienced in the boarding house business comes to Ocean City and rents a small cottage. She opens a summer time boarding house. It is so successful that in 1894, at the age of 50, she ventures into a new business.

Rosalie Tilghman was the daughter of General Tench Tilghman, the Adjutant General of the State of Maryland, and great-granddaughter of Colonel Tench Tilghman, George Washington's aide-de-camp in the Revolutionary War. The family enjoyed a position of prominence throughout the State of Maryland. They lived at Plimhimmon Plantation near Oxford, Maryland.

At the age of seventeen, Rosalie fell in love with Thomas Jefferson Shreve, a southerner from Leesburg, Virginia. Shreve rode with Mosby's Rangers during the Civil War. He was captured and imprisoned at Fort Delaware. There he contracted tuberculosis and was released with orders not to return to the South. He found work as a track hand on the Maryland and Delaware Railroad, owned by Rosalie's father.

Thomas Shreve was nobody's fool; he wooed and soon married the boss's daughter. The marriage was brief. The Shreve's had two children before Thomas died, two years after they were married.

The Tilghmans and the Shreves were Southern sympathizers. The Civil War meant the loss of slave labor on Plimhimmon Plantation. The bankruptcy of the General's railroad company left the family, "in possession of large property, large debts, large pride, and large wants." Rosalie was reduced to milking the cows.

October, 1894 Rosalie Tilghman Shreve, of Baltimore, has purchase two desirable lots facing the ocean and a contract has been signed for the house. The house will contain forty-eight bedrooms, and the dining room, which will be 33x40 feet, is designed to accommodate about ninety people. The main reception hall will be finished in the natural cypress, with a large, open fireplace on the north side. The house will be lit throughout by electricity and be complete with electric call bells and sanitary plumbing. The furnishings will be in oak and cherry. The house will be known as the Plimhimmon Hotel. Rosalie Shreve is successful beyond her wildest dreams.