OCEAN CITY — An historic old Ocean City beach cottage on the Boardwalk near 13th Street is undergoing a major renovation and rehabilitation project with the implementation of state-of-the-art 21st Century features and a keen eye on preserving the past.
Built in the late 1930s and owned and occupied by the Laws family for decades, the old Coronet Apartments on the surface appear to be much like many of the other cedar shake-shingled old cottages along that stretch of the famous promenade, but there is much going on behind the historic façade with the current major renovation project. The current owners have called the Coronet their summer beach home for 25 years and last year contracted a popular local home improvement company, Shades, and its owner Don Furbay, to completely remodel the old beach cottage with state-of-the-art exteriors, interiors and electronics while paying homage to the building’s rich and colorful past.
“The owners have been there for 25 years and this renovation is something they always dreamed of,” said Furbay. “It was built in 1938 and it’s a part of Ocean City history, and we were very cognizant of that as we moved forward with the plans. We’re doing everything with new materials while keeping the character of the building.”
From the Boardwalk, the Coronet Condominiums, as the building is officially known, resemble most of the other weather worn, storm tested old cottages that surround it, but behind the façade is a sprawling beach house that will now include nine bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths with a working brick fireplace, expansive kitchen, big living rooms, a study and play areas for children. As the owners’ family has grown over the years, so has the need for more and more space and the current major renovation accomplishes that while maintaining its unique Ocean City charm.
“It’s a place the family has spent their summers for the last 25 years and now they have grandchildren and needed a better use of some of the space,” said Furbay. “They absolutely adore living here, but at the same time, it needed a major upgrade. They could have torn it down and build something brand new and more modern, but they’re moving forward with the goal of modernizing the building while paying close attention to its past.”
On the outside, the Coronet features modern vinyl siding that mimics the old cedar shake shingles that covered the building for decades. The roof line has changed somewhat and now includes more modern, energy efficient materials. Shades has replaced all of the windows and doors with modern, energy efficient models that also mimic the original exterior. Inside and out, the old Coronet has been completely rewired with state-of-the-art electronics including televisions and stereo systems, climate control systems, security cameras around the exterior and even security cameras that allow family members to keep an eye on little ones inside and out, all controlled remotely with I-phones and I-pads, for example.
The cottage was built in 1938 and purchased by Laws family matriarch Maud Laws in the early 1960s. She is often mentioned fondly as one of the pioneering women of early Ocean City and actually lived in a downstairs apartment at the Coronet until her passing in 1983 at the ripe old age of 103. The famed March 1962 storm that ravaged Ocean City nearly swept away the Coronet with most of its decks and railings destroyed. In fact, a picture of its famous “stairs to nowhere,” featuring its front steps dangling over a destroyed Boardwalk, was circulated in the national media at the time as an illustration of the storm’s destruction.