You are here


-A A +A
1895; 1980s, 2009 renovations. 2 N. Main St.
  • (Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie)

The centerpiece of Berlin’s thriving downtown commercial district is the Atlantic Hotel. Berlin emerged as an important commercial center for upper Worcester County in the early nineteenth century due to its location at a stagecoach stop on the Philadelphia post road. The arrival of the railroad after the Civil War made Berlin a key junction on the Lower Eastern Shore. The town hosted a steady stream of visitors on their way to Ocean City as well as traveling salesmen (drummers), visiting the many stores and businesses. The Atlantic Hotel, then operating in a c. 1845 structure, had a livery stable on the property so drummers could arrange local transportation to make their sales rounds. A fire in 1895 destroyed this building and the entire commercial core of Berlin.

The hotel’s owner, Horace Harmonson, rebuilt and reopened within six months. His new Atlantic Hotel was a three-story brick building with a cast-iron cornice and full-width, one-story porch. Harmonson operated the hotel until the 1930s. Berlin’s fortunes suffered during the Great Depression, and although the Atlantic Hotel remained open, the town found it was increasingly difficult to compete with the popularity of Ocean City, particularly after World War II.

In the 1980s, a group of residents banded together to save and renovate the hotel, also launching a renaissance for Berlin. Today Berlin’s center is defined by the rows of red brick commercial buildings mainly from the post-fire reconstruction, now restored. On many blocks, they share a continuous metal awning sheltering the sidewalk. The former Exchange and Savings Bank (c. 1902; 1 S. Main) and former First National Bank (c. 1905; 3 S. Main) provide visual variety to the streetscape with towers and finials enlivening their one-story forms. The Atlantic Hotel continues to be a keystone of Berlin’s resurgent popularity for tourism.

Writing Credits

Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie



  • 1895


What's Nearby


Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie, "ATLANTIC HOTEL", [Berlin, Maryland], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Maryland, Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2022, 146-146.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.