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Things to do this summer in OC: Catch a live show, the Petticoat Regime!

“Hallelujah on a bicycle!” 

The quirky catchphrase was exclaimed by Susan Dickerson Mason — at least, the 21st-century reenactment of Dickerson Mason – – when she was told that the first Bank of Ocean City would soon be built. 

“Well hallelujah… on a bicycle!” repeated the Ocean Pines Player portraying Ella Phillips Dennis when she heard that the bank would be located across the street from her hotel, the Dennis Hotel, on the corner of Dorchester and Baltimore Avenue. 

These women and two others, who played major roles in the making of Ocean City as we know it today, are resurrected every Monday at 10 a.m. outside the Life-Saving Station Museum. The half-hour play presented by the Ocean Pines Players is called the Petticoat Regime, and tells the story of the women who built OC in the early 1900s, including:

Rosalie Tilghman Shreve, who owned the Plimhimmon Hotel (now the Plim Plaza), originally built in 1894. 

Ella Phillips Dennis, who built the Dennis Hotel on Dorchester Street.

Margaret Campbell Buell, who built the Mount Pleasant Hotel, located on the Boardwalk between North Division and First Street, in 1900.

Susan Dickerson Mason, who purchased the Mount Pleasant Hotel from Campbell Buell in 1919. 

The Petticoat Regime is named after the term that local historians use to describe the group of entrepreneurial women who ran businesses, mostly hotels, throughout town in the early 20th century. By 1926, in fact, 30 of the 32 hotels in Ocean City were run by women. 

Ella Phillips Davis, who first came to the Shore with her husband in 1890 in hopes of improving her ill health, said to the Baltimore Sun, “Ocean City is seventy percent run by women, built by women, and the men are all hen-pecked.” Her health improved upon moving to Ocean City, and she ran the Dennis Hotel for the rest of her life.


History Navigation An Isolated Fishing Village Once an isolated fishing village that has since grown into one of the east coast’s premier vacation destinations, Ocean City, Maryland has a wonderful and storied past. An Englishman named Thomas Fenwick,the namesake of the Delaware resort that borders Ocean City to the north, once owned the land where Ocean City now sits.

The play, written by Karen McClure of the Ocean Pines Players and set in a tea room, is as humorous as it is educational. Rumor has it that Dickerson Mason created quite a stir in town when she arrived in Ocean City by skiff with four children and a cow along with her, and the ladies sitting with her at tea can’t help but wonder — why did you bring the cow?

Learn a little more about Ocean City’s early history, and take a few moments to appreciate the hardy women who helped build the town from the ground up. Our only recommendation is that you arrive to the show early in order to get a seat! 

Kristin is a writer and photographer in Ocean City, Maryland, and is the content manager for OceanCity.com and other State Ventures, LLC sites. She loves getting reader-submitted stories and photos, so send her an email anytime. She also works part-time at the Art League of Ocean City and the Ocean City Film Festival and lives just off the peninsula with her dog and fiancé. Her photos can be found on Instagram @oc_kristin.

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