Berlin History

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The village of Berlin (accent on the first syllable), began in the 1790s around the original 300 acre 1677 land grant that became Burley Plantation. The town’s Main Street was originally part of the path connecting the Assateague Indians with the neighboring Pocomoke tribe. In colonial times the path became the Philadelphia Post Road, the main travel route up the shore to the centers of commerce to the north and west.

It is believed that the name Berlin was derived from a contraction of “Burleigh Inn,” a tavern at the crossroads of the Philadelphia Post and Sinepuxent Roads. In the early 1900s Berlin’s bustling commercial and tourist business supported more hotels than neighboring Ocean City.

Berlin boasts 47 structures on the National Register of Historic Places spanning two centuries of architecture. The town is the 1885 birthplace of the Reverend Charles Albert Tindley who composed the now famous song “We Shall Overcome” among his many achievements. Berlin is also the birthplace of Stephen Decatur, the 19th century naval hero.

The downtown area had three devastating fires in 1895, 1902 and 1904. This area is now a National Register Historic District. Some of the older buildings in town include Burley Manor and Burley Cottage, located on South Main Street and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, “Robins Nest” on West Street, the Chandler House on North Main Street across from the Museum, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Church Street (1825).

Some of the most successful industries here were Harrison Nurseries, the Berlin Milling Company and Phillips Cannery. The first school here, Buckingham Academy, a boys’ boarding school, was established in 1765 by Rev. Charles Tennent, a Presbyterian minister whose grave site is in Buckingham Cemetery.

Today, the downtown commercial district is a true success story. Tree lined streets, art galleries, antique shops, the restored Atlantic Hotel and the Globe once again captivate and attract visitors. Berlin was the filming location for Paramount Pictures Runaway Bride and Disney’s Tuck Everlasting.

Download the Berlin History Walking Tour Map HERE  Berlin-Walking-Tour-brochure-map.pdf