OCEAN CITY – Museum officials say the restoration of a former bank building will be completed ahead of the summer season.
Last week, the Ocean City Museum Society announced the construction and restoration of the 1910 Bank of Ocean City building, located at the corner of Dorchester Street and South Baltimore Avenue, will conclude in the coming months. Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum curator Christine Okerblom said the new exhibit space will open to the public this summer.
“This museum is going to function and operate under the same mission,” she said, “to protect and showcase the cultural and natural history of Worcester County.”
In December of 2019, the Bank of Ocean City closed its Dorchester Street branch. But instead of selling the property, it was donated to the Town of Ocean City for the exclusive use of the Ocean City Museum Society.
Since that time, city officials have been working with museum staff to restore the historic site and develop a second museum location, to be known as the Museum of Ocean City.
In an interview this week, Okerblom said construction began in 2021, but that work has progressed in recent months. She said Oak Contracting LLC is handling both the interior and exterior restoration.
“It’s starting to pick up speed and has seen some more robust turnaround,” she said.
Officials report the building will be restored to its original 1910 appearance, which featured a second-floor porch. Certain architectural details the museum society hopes to keep include the hardwood floors, crown molding and two safes that were installed in 1916 and 1947.
“We hope to bring the building back to its original glory,” Okerblom said.
Inside, the first floor will feature exhibit space – with displays highlighting Native American history and the history of downtown Ocean City, for example – while the second floor will feature office and research space.
“By appointment only, the public will be able to access the second floor for research and can view maps, photos and documents,” Okerblom explained.
Okerblom said construction at the former bank building will be finished in late spring and open to the public this summer. She said exhibits and research space will be introduced in phases.
“So we will offer more as time goes by,” she said.
The land on which the bank building now sits was first deeded in 1875 and continued to sit vacant for decades until local entrepreneur Charles Asher McGregor, purchased the site for the construction of a general store.
Built in 1910, McGregor’s operated for three summer seasons before McGregor was forced to sell the lot and the buildings he constructed on Dorchester Street.
In 1916, the newly formed Bank of Ocean City moved into the building and continued to operate there until 2019, when the branch was closed. During its years of operation, the bank weathered world wars, a Great Depression and a significant renovation project. In 1947, the second-floor porch was removed and replaced with large columns and a brick façade.
When the town took ownership of the building in 2019, city officials and museum staff began an effort to restore the building’s architecture and develop a museum with added exhibit space.
The project, supported by the Town of Ocean City and the Ocean City Museum Society, is made possible through private donations and grant funding, including grant awards from the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Ocean City Development Corporation and the Maryland Heritage Area Program.
The Maryland Museum Society reports it will continue to share construction updates and historical background on the former bank building in the coming months, as well as sneak peaks of exhibits that will be included in the new museum.
A full history of the bank building, as well as a donation link for the restoration project, can be found on the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum website.