BERLIN — Serving as a West Ocean City landmark since the 1940’s, the independently-owned Alamo Motel offers a unique experience that larger hotel chains cannot duplicate, according to owner Roscoe Nelson.
Built in 1945 by World War II “Flying Tiger” pilot Bill Weaver, the Alamo’s design was inspired by the more famous building of the same name located in Texas. It is located just off Route 50’s eastbound lane, roughly a mile from the bridge into Ocean City.
“The owner’s name was Bill Weaver. He was the Flying Tiger,” said Nelson. “And he came home after the war and he built the Alamo. He built it after the old Alamo in San Antonio because he was stationed there.”
According to Nelson, the Alamo was the Ocean City area’s first real “motel”, though traditional hotels had existed in the resort for decades before that. Despite its age and history, the Alamo ceased operations in the late 1980’s and sat dormant for the better part of a decade. After eight years of inactivity, beginning in 1988 and lasting until 1996, Nelson bought the property and restored the motel.
“I did a lot of renovations. I put a new roof on this building here,” he said, indicating the bar and motel office. “The roofs were rotting. Some of them had already caved into the rooms. It sat here empty for eight years before I got it. I had a lot of remodeling to do.”
In the last 17 years, Nelson has overhauled a lot of the old Alamo while keeping its distinctive tone and style intact. He’s added horseshoe pits, burnout areas for motorcycles and two dormitories for student summer housing. There’s also Rascal’s barbeque, which Nelson named after his pet cat. All of that is in addition to the 40 individual rooms at the Alamo spread out across five buildings.
The renovation was a major undertaking, though Nelson is “content” with how the motel is today and doesn’t plan on any major changes in the near future. When asked why he decided to resurrect the Alamo, instead of purchasing a less worn or possibly entirely new property, Nelson explained that the motel’s flavor and history were too appealing to watch it fade into obscurity.
“I’m very adventurous. I like the old place. It’s got personality,” he said.
Nelson compared the nearly 70-year-old property to a “good wine” that has aged well over the decades. While the Alamo may not be changing much in the next few years, Nelson promised that it’s not going anywhere, either, and offers a unique experience in the resort market.