On the evening of Friday, September 7th, 2012, a large population of many of Ocean City’s business owners, establishment managers, and star citizens attended the 4th annual Ocean City Chamber Grand Ball. The Black & White Ball was planned as a way to celebrate OC’s best. An evening of formal attire, delicious food, great entertainment, and dancing was centered on an awards ceremony. Recognized at the Grand Ball was Vicki Barrett, owner of the Inn on the Ocean, as Ocean City’s Citizen of the Year.

Those in attendance at the Clarion Fontainebleau Crystal Ballroom applauded and cheered as Barrett was announced as Citizen of the Year. Winners of this prestigious honor have represented the most dedicated participants in community activities and have demonstrated unselfish devotion to others. Eligibility for those voted as Citizen of the Year is restricted to persons who have lived in Ocean City for some part of their adult life. Judging was based solely on merits for unselfish philanthropic service to our community and fellow citizens. In 1979, the first outstanding citizen honored was Art Davis.

On the morning of September 7th, Charlie Barrett, Vicki’s husband said, “The best hostess in Ocean City has been named Citizen of the Year. Her tireless efforts on the Boardwalk, Arts Committee, and Election Board have been recognized. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Vicki and Charlie have spent more than a decade owning and operating the Inn on the Ocean, the only oceanfront bed and breakfast in all of Maryland. Vicki is known for her hospitality, delicious home-cooked dishes, her devotion to many of Ocean City’s clubs and organizations, and her availability when it comes to volunteering at many Ocean City functions.

“Congratulations to Vicki,” said Fran Greto, a visitor at the Inn on the Ocean.

“They could not have selected a nicer, more deserving citizen!” she added via a post on the Inn on the Ocean’s Facebook page.

Also awarded at the Black & White Ball were Phil Houck of Bull on the Beach and Crab Alley (Spirit of Ocean City award) and Charlotte Montgomery of the Ocean City Seasonal Workforce (Volunteer of the Year).

About the Inn on the Ocean

Ocean City is home to many one-of-a-kind things: the east coast’s largest outdoor bar, an amusement park that hovers over a sand dune, a large shark wedged through a building, more than a dozen miniature golf courses, and the only oceanfront bed and breakfast in the entire state of Maryland.

The Inn on the Ocean, built in the 1930’s, has become more than just a historic landmark in Ocean City. It has become an inviting social landmark because of the thousands of memories that originated in the historical building. Vicki and Charlie Barrett purchased the one-story craftsman-styled home 12 years ago.

The double-pitched gable roof, simple square columns, exposed rafter tails, deep porches, roof overhangs, and double hung windows that add to the historic classification of the home were admired by the owners prior to the Barrett’s, too. The Inn had been transformed into a B & B in 1986. The house was practically a ‘turn-key property’ that Vicki and Charlie became extremely excited to transform into their own business in 2000.

“My parents lived on the Eastern Shore and I spent many summers in Ocean City. When it was time to move closer to my mother, who was ill, I was more than ready to come back to the shore,” said Vicki.

After discussing her plans to generate new ties in Ocean City with her mother, Wanda, the search for a potential bed and breakfast property was on. The Barrett’s wanted an older home, preferably something historic, with several rooms, and a welcoming feeling. That’s when the 10th Street property was first mentioned.

“It’s a funny story, actually. My mother used to go to the hair dressers quite often. One day she was sitting in the blow dryer next to her friend, Mable Hannah, as their hair was being dried and set. My mother asked Mable if she knew of anyone with a house for sale because her daughter was interested in starting a B & B. Mable just laughed and said, ‘Wanda, she should buy the Inn next to my house. It’s for sale.’ My mother came home and told me about her conversation at the beauty salon,” said Vicki reflecting on the conversation that led her to becoming an inn owner.

Within just two days after hearing about the bed and breakfast for sale next to Mable’s house at 10th Street and the boards in Ocean City, Vicki had traveled south from Boston and had her feet planted in the sand in front of her soon-to-be new home.

“I met a realtor there the next day. I was only inside the house for 12 seconds before I called Charlie and said, ‘Honey, this place is ours. I’m buying it’,” Vicki said proudly.

The Barrett’s had been attracted to the home because it had a history, was ocean front, and would be appealing to guests. Within two months after signing the contract and becoming new home and business owners, the Barrett’s were completely moved in, had 12 guests staying the night, were planning a guest’s wedding, and cooking breakfast for 6 couples.

The delicious breakfasts prepared at the Inn are something many folks look forward to. Vicki is a well-known locally for the scrumptious meals she whips up in the kitchen of the historic home. A few years ago, Vicki had a cookbook filled with her favorite recipes published. The book, titled Nothing New Under the Sun, is available for purchased at the Inn on the Ocean or online.

There was a lengthy 8 month period when there weren’t any meals being prepared in the kitchen at the Inn, though. In July of 2004, a terrible fire ripped through the Inn. Clouds of dark black smoke billowed out of every pressed-glass window; 12 guests were standing on the boardwalk in their pajamas, and Vicki stood next to a policeman holding a tray of chocolate chip cookies she had been baking, clutching a single pink rose she had been placing in an arrangement when she realized there was a fire. She also grabbed her favorite painting that had been hanging above a desk inside, also. The smoke from the fire destroyed most of the house.

Protective measures were taken to ensure that neighboring houses were undisturbed as the fire melted vital components of the bed and breakfast. The downstairs washer, dryer, refrigerator, and all of the furniture were melted, disfigured, and destroyed. Fire officials, local police, and even the Mayor of Ocean City, were all on-scene within 10-minutes of the fire being reported. Vicki praised their fast efforts and much-needed comforting that occurred on that day. It is believed that faulty wiring in the basement of the home was the cause of the fire.

After 8 months of reporting insurance claims, choosing finishes for the home that were similar to those that turned to ash, refinishing saved furniture, and picking out new wallpaper, the Inn on the Ocean was back in business. All guest rooms had been refurbished and the Inn was at full capacity. Things have been running smoothly ever since.

Currently, there are six guest rooms at the oceanfront B & B. All rooms have a private bath and are magnificently decorated for luxury and comfort with a touch of an ‘at-home’ feeling. Guests can wake up in a comfortable bed, gaze at the ocean, relax in the gracious living room, and then walk across the boardwalk and directly to the beach to enjoy a day of sun and saltwater.

Josh, the inn keeper, welcomes guests, carries in heavy luggage, washes guest’s cars in the summer months, and lives at the Inn below all of the guest rooms. Vicki and Charlie do not live at the Inn. They, instead, live within five minutes of their business and spend a majority of their time at the establishment. They haven’t thought twice about their journey from Boston to Ocean City that led them to become inn operators.

“As the sun rises each morning over the Inn on the Ocean, I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be an innkeeper, chef, wife, friend, and hostess,” noted Vicki on the first page of her cookbook.

The Inn on the Ocean is a piece of the Ocean City Historic Walking Tour and draws many visitors because of its historic design. It’s because of the Barrett’s and their welcoming spirits, great food, and endless tales that so many visitors enter the Inn’s doors and learn about more than just 1930’s design.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Inn on the Ocean, contact Vicki and Charlie at innonoc@aol.com. They’ll be more than happy to entertain you, show you some photos, cook you something delicious, cause a few laughs, and divulge about the home’s details. Check out the Shorebread Bread Box for some of Vicki’s recipes from the Inn on the Ocean.

Congratulations, Vicki, Ocean City’s Citizen of the Year 2012! 

Photos by Ami Reist.