OCEAN CITY — Months after a significant fire at the historic Majestic Hotel on the Boardwalk at 7th Street, renovation and restoration efforts continue to inch closer to the finish line, and the establishment is on track for reopening in time for the upcoming season.
Around mid-day on Oct. 18, 2013, a fire broke out at the Majestic Hotel. The Ocean City Fire Department responded, as did crews from Berlin and Ocean Pines. Witnesses told investigators they heard a loud “boom” come from the building and then reported seeing smoke. Due to the type of construction and the age of the building, a third alarm was called, but the Ocean City Fire Department quickly controlled the fire and prevented it from spreading before it was extinguished a short time later.
The Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire started in a basement store of the hotel. The hotel had already been closed for the season at the time of the fire and the only person on premise was a maintenance worker. Firefighters remained on scene for several hours as crews removed the shudders from the upper floors and smoke emanated from the windows on the higher floors of the hotel.
Much of the damage was concentrated to the ground level stores beneath the hotel, but there was smoke and water damage throughout the historic lodging facility. After months of renovation and restoration, the Majestic Hotel is on track for reopening this spring as planned, according to Will Savage, whose family has owned and operated the hotel for generations.
“Everything is coming along well and we’re on target for reopening,” he said this week. “We’re probably less than a month out now. We’re shooting for the car show weekend, which is when we normally reopen. We were thinking about trying for Springfest, but we’re not going to be quite there yet.”
Savage said after the fire the first-floor shops under the Boardwalk were a total loss. However, the stores have been renovated and shelving is being installed in advance of the reopening. Savage said there were other challenges during the restoration process, but none that could not be overcome.
“We had a little bit of a challenge retrofitting the elevator shaft, but we’re working through that now,” he said. “Otherwise, everything is done with the rooms and there is no evidence of the fire. The stores are almost ready to get up and running again now.”
The hotel was originally built in 1925 and named the Liberty Farms Hotel. It was renamed the Majestic Hotel in 1930. For generations, it has owned and operated by the Savage family, whose name is synonymous with early Ocean City history. According to a report on the history of the hotel, the lumber used in its original construction was cut in West Ocean City and floated across the bay to its beachfront location at 7th Street.
Savage, a third assistant chief with the Ocean City Fire Department, praised the department for its swift work last October in saving the hotel and preventing it from spreading in the older section of Boardwalk hotels and establishments. He said while some upgrades including the elevator were made, the historic hotel is largely much the same as it was prior to the fire.
“Everything is restored almost exactly as it was, aside from a few obvious things such as the elevator,” he said. “I can’t say enough about how great our fire department is and what they were able to do to save the hotel and keep it from spreading.”