Fifteen years ago, a group of artists from the nonprofit Art League of Ocean City were searching for a way to fund a new arts center for Ocean City and expand beyond the moldy, concrete-block pool house they were currently occupying. They wanted a place where artists could hang their original work with pride, a place where children and people of all ages could gather to take a class and express their creativity, a place that would be of importance and service to the community.
It was here that the idea for the Sand Castle Home Tour was born, and it fulfilled the Art League’s mission by raising more than $200,000 in seven years, used as seed money for the building. In 2013, the brand- new, state-of-the-art Ocean City Center for the Arts opened its doors on 94th Street.
In 2019, the Home Tour is celebrating its 15th year, continuing to support the Arts Center and helping to keep it free and open to all. Ten private homes are on the Sand Castle Home Tour every year, ranging from quaint beach cottages to large resort homes. The generous homeowners who open their doors to the public for the tour recognize the value of the Ocean City Center for the Arts and what it contributes to the community.
Maryland’s first lady, Yumi Hogan, is the honorary chairperson for the Home Tour. “As we are all well aware, the arts have a way of bringing people from many places together under one roof,” Hogan said. “In this case, the many roofs are of those who volunteered to open their homes for such a great cause. I hope that as you tour each beautiful home, you will enjoy the artistic talent and reminisce about the outstanding contributions made by our friends and community.”
This year’s tour — on September 19 and 20 — continues that tradition. One featured home is that of artist Pam Mason, which sits bayside on Chesapeake Drive in the Little Salisbury neighborhood of Ocean City, just a few blocks from the Arts Center.
When Pam decided to build her dream home, she found the perfect location, right on the bay, with spectacular sunset views. But the “perfect location” contained an old summer cottage with a large side yard. Pam hired Kevin Rohe of Mills Creek Builders to build her custom new home on this open footprint while retaining the history and quaintness of the cottage next door.
Less than a year ago, the 3,400-square-foot, three-story house was an artist’s vision that has since come to life. Open and airy, with bayfront decks off every door, the home Pam designed brings the outdoors in.
A muralist and painter herself, the home is creatively planned with original works of art and personal mementos displayed throughout the space, including paintings by Pam and her daughter, Mason D’Aleo. The downstairs houses their studio.
You enter the home up a flight of stairs and walk into a foyer featuring a gorgeous, handcrafted sliding wood barn door and a unique painted chest of drawers. The sliding door, along with an original porthole door from the sunken Tortuga and a ship-lap media wall, were all handmade creations by Attics of My Life in Selbyville. The main living floor blends a clean, white kitchen with two sitting areas — one with sliding doors looking onto the bay and the other a cozy reading-and-TV space with an electric fireplace for atmosphere. Pam’s office and a laundry room are also on the main floor.
Round porthole windows are used throughout the house to break up the linear space and add a perfect frame for the magnificent views of the bay. Crystal chandeliers add sparkle to many of the rooms. A bold use of artwork, including large photographs of a wave, an agate and a colorful painting of a palm tree create stunning visual moments in the mostly neutral palette of the home.
Three bedrooms and bathrooms — all with magnificent water views — are upstairs. Distressed painted wood furniture from Indonesia that Pam purchased from Perfect Furnishings in Bethany Beach adds the ideal elegance yet casualness of the headboards and chests in the bedrooms. Sliding barn doors on the bedroom closets add functionality and fun to typically plain spaces.
The outside decks are meant for lounging and sunset watching. Black-and-white-striped cushions add a bold contemporary look, and whimsical planters are filled with flowers and greenery. On the front lawn, Pam created two ponds she is filling with water-loving plants and maybe a frog or two.
Tickets to the self-guided Sand Castle Home Tour are $30 for both days and all 10 homes. Tickets are available online at ArtLeagueOfOceanCity.org/hometour, by calling 410-524-9433 or in-person at the Arts Center.