Berlin, Maryland Overview
During your vacation to Ocean City, Maryland don’t forget to visit the quaint little town of Berlin, Maryland. Berlin is a historic village just a few miles west of Ocean City. The town’s roots go all the way back to 1677, when a 300 acre land grant was issued, known as the Burley Plantation. The town proper had its start in the 1790’s. The towns name is believed to have been derived from the Burleigh Inn, a small tavern at the crossroads of what is today South Main Street and Tripoli Street. Berlin was incorporated in 1868, twelve years before the neighboring Ocean City. Berlin is historically famous for being the home of Commodore Steven Decatur, a naval officer and hero of the Barbary Naval Wars of the early eighteen hundreds. When the Barbary Pirates captured an American Navy ship, Commodore Decatur led a daring raid to destroy the vessel to prevent its use by the enemy.
The movies “ Runway Bride” and “ Tuck Everlasting” where both set and filmed in Berlin, Maryland. In “Runaway Bride” Berlin became the town of Hale, Maryland. The film features a lot of Berlin culture and is good way to find out more about the town. Many of the shops were used as well as hundreds of locals as extras. In “Tuck Everlasting” the town was taken back in time to the eighteen hundreds. The streets were filled in with dirt to give the appearance of country roads. The town was chosen since such a great deal of architecture was already so historic, little had to be done to make town look like the 19th century.
As you walk the streets of Berlin, Maryland you actually do feel as if you are in going back in time. There are three different and distinct periods of architecture represented in Berlin. The earliest is the Federal style, from the 1780-1830 period. The main inspiration for this architectural style was the ruins of ancient Roman homes and temples. It is characterized by light filled rooms, balanced proportions, smaller fireplaces, wall-hung fabrics, wallpaper and small furniture. American Federal architects drew inspiration from the French Imperial architecture, neoclassical architecture, and the Georgian architecture of the late seventeen hundreds. Much of Berlin’s brick architecture showcases this style.
Victorian architecture comes from the period between 1837-1901, corresponding to European practice of naming architectural periods after the reigning King or Queen. It drew its inspiration from medieval and gothic revival architecture. Due to the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution many new materials such as steel were able to be incorporated in this style. More ornate and lavish carvings were possible due to improvements in carpentry machinery. Since the style developed in England, where the Industrial Revolution had taken hold faster then anywhere else, Victorian architecture often went hand in hand with the new advances in structural integrity when the style began to be built in other countries. In Berlin many family homes and business are in this style. Despite three fires during this period much of the architecture remains intact.
Modern architecture is usually agreed to have begun in the nineteen twenties. This style is characterized by functional design over ornate decoration, horizontal and vertical lines, simplification of form, and many more windows included in the design then previous architectural styles. A main emphasis of this style is functionality. A plain looking fireproof material would be used over a more ornate wood like mahogany and cedar. Ironically, some of the newest homes in Berlin are from this period. All together there are 47 separate buildings in Berlin logged in the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the most famous historical structures in Berlin is the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum. The house was built in 1832, during the overlap between the Federal and Victorian architectural periods, by Isaac Covington. Isaac Covington was a Berlin storeowner according to historical records. His family lived in the house throughout the American Civil War era. Robert Henry, the man who was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Berlin also lived in the house. The house’s namesake, Calvin B. Taylor, was a lawyer, teacher and founder of the bank that still today bears his name. His family lived in the house from 1890 to 1932. Their were several owners from then up to the 1970‘s. In 1981 this historical gem was nearly bulldozed to make room for a parking lot. Fortunately, for posterity, a group of concerned citizens had the site registered with National Register of Historic Places. At their behest, the mayor and Town Council purchased the house a year
later to be run as a town museum. Some other popular historical places include the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church ( 1825 ), the Atlantic Hotel ( 1895 ), the Federal Era Downtown.
Berlin has a wonderful art and culture section Downtown. There are art festivals and events several times a year. Berlin has a Fiddlers Convention/Festival every September when the streets fill with music, pit beef, games, and all kinds of fun. Visitors fall in love with Berlin’s many antique shops. The shops line the streets and have items of all kinds and periods. If you want to step back in time to a 50’s milkshake and soda bar check out Raynes Reef on Main Street. Raynes Reef isn’t a modern building made to look like the 1950’s. Established in 1901, its almost 60 years older then the period it represents! For indoor/outdoor dining over the brick streets of the town square visit the historic Atlantic Hotel, built 1895. This quaint Victorian inn is adjacent to Globe Theater, the gourmet bistro with a copper-top bar offering live entertainment that mentioned above. Just off Main Street there is a huge playground and nature trails for the kids.
Berlin is a town of quaint little shops and restaurants that are hidden treasures with all sorts of little nooks you can discover for yourself. Remember when you visit Berlin you are just a short drive from Assateague Island National Seashore and Ocean City, Maryland. Both are within ten minutes. Check out www.berlinmdarts.org for an overview of the town’s arts and entertainment scene.
See you on Main Street in Berlin!