An Old Home Awaits Its Fate in Ocean City

first_imgBy DONALD WITTKOWSKIOne of the grand dames of Ocean City’s Historic District has seen better days.The three-story house at 615 Wesley Avenue has a weather-beaten exterior, overgrown vines creeping up its steps and a battered white fence.But this 118-year-old home dating to the Edwardian era is considered historically significant – so much so that the Ocean City Historic Preservation Commission wants to save it from demolition.In September, the commission rejected plans to demolish the house and is expected to formalize its action in a resolution at its Oct. 6 meeting.“The property is safe right now,” John Loeper, the commission chairman, said in an interview Thursday.The house has been classified as a “key building” in the Historic District, the highest ranking for historically significant structures, City Deputy Tax Assessor Mike Brady said.Its original history dating to 1902 isn’t immediately clear, but over the years it has variously served as the Genevieve Guest House and the Koo-Koo’s Nest bed and breakfast, according to online real estate records.Overgrown trees and shrubbery obscure the facade.Ideally, the Historic Preservation Commission would like to see someone buy the now-empty house and restore it, Loeper said.“There’s so much to that original building that is still there. There’s no reason that building should be torn down,” he said. “The building has a tremendous amount of street presence. It hasn’t been remuddled over the years.”Although the historic commission has denied a demolition permit for the property, the house’s long-term fate is unclear.Loeper explained that the property owner could appeal the Historic Preservation Commission’s denial of the demolition permit to the Ocean City Zoning Board. He added that he is not aware of any time that the zoning board has overturned the historic commission on appeal.In the meantime, the house is listed for sale at $999,000. A real estate agent handling the property listing could not be reached for comment Thursday.Brady said tax records list the property owner as RJGVB LLC of Shippensburg, Pa. The house includes five bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms within 5,250 square feet of space, according to real estate records.The old house near the corner of Sixth Street and Wesley Avenue is in the heart of the Historic District.The home’s expansive porch overlooks Wesley Avenue in the heart of the Historic District, an area that roughly stretches between Third and Eighth streets and Central and Ocean avenues.The Historic Preservation Commission, as a general rule, must approve demolition, new construction or rehabilitation within the district.Loeper said the old house remains in good overall physical condition despite its deteriorated exterior. Much of the facade is obscured by overgrown trees and shrubbery. The light green paint has long since faded, along with the burgundy trim.“The building stands there in the community in the same way it stood the day it was built,” Loeper said of the preserved original construction.The house harkens back to the days when the Victorian period was giving way to the Edwardian era. Loeper believes the property’s architecture is more of the Victorian style.When the house was built, it was only 23 years after Ocean City’s founding in 1879 as a seaside resort town by four Methodist ministers.The Ocean City Historic Preservation Commission meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6. The meeting will be conducted remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the public may participate remotely by computer, tablet or smartphone at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/217615509 or may call in at 1-408-650-3123 and use access code 217-615-509. The 118-year-old house at 615 Wesley Avenue is considered architecturally and historically significant by the city.last_img read more

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