Ocean City NJ’s historic Moorlyn Theater is coming back to life
I've written before about the one year I lived in Ocean City. In that winter I had a very eerie experience involving the historic Moorlyn Theater, but I'll save that for the end.
The Moorlyn first opened as a bowling alley in 1905 under the name Moore's Bowling Casino and sat on Moorlyn Terrace off 9th Street in Ocean City not far from the boardwalk. It was a main entertainment attraction in the shore town for years.
Then in 1922 it became the Moorlyn Theater and has been one since. In July 1929 it took on a huge undertaking by the building being moved 355 feet towards the east so that it could connect to the boardwalk.
In 1970 it was divided into two movie theaters then into four in 1989. It closed for a time and the building was partially knocked down and rebuilt in a new style. It became one of only two movie theaters on the Ocean City boardwalk and was operated by the Frank Theatre chain in 1989 closing down completely every winter.
Later it was taken over by the Ocean City Tabernacle and renamed the Moorlyn Family Theatre. In February of 2018 it was shuttered and put up for sale. It has sat vacant ever since.
Now it's been purchased by Town Square Entertainment which operates movie theaters in Northfield, Ventnor and Stone Harbor. In a Facebook post the company wrote,
We at Town Square Entertainment are overwhelmingly pleased to announce that we have purchased the Moorlyn 4 Theatre in Ocean City, NJ! The Moorlyn has long been a dream project for us due to its incredibly rich history in serving Ocean City and surrounding community with entertainment since the early 1900s. The building has survived hurricanes, super storms, neglect, and even a move to the east after the Great Boardwalk Fire of 1927. We have a lot of work ahead of us but we can promise you this: Ocean City will soon enjoy a better way to see a movie.
It's believed it could be up and running by summer of 2023.
Now the creepy story. I've never known what to make of this but I swear to you this happened.
In the winter of the year I spent living in Ocean City I walked the boardwalk from my place near 14th Street north to around 9th. It was cold and very windy this night and no one was around. No one but this woman who was standing on the beach. She stood perfectly still staring out at the surf in the dark.
I stopped a bit north of her and leaned against the railing of the boardwalk taking in the black ocean but my attention kept going back to her. I could understand walking the boardwalk even with the cold and wind but the beach seemed odd. Yet there she stood.
More odd was that she was so motionless. I started getting worried with her stoic staring at the Atlantic that maybe she was considering suicide the way Virginia Woolf did it. I called out to her at one point to ask if she was alright but it was like she couldn’t hear me.
She wore this black dress that seemed like a throwback. I wasn’t quite thinking of it as period clothing at the time, just that it seemed out of style.
Well then she turned.
She walked slowly back to the boardwalk and I stood with my heart racing because things just didn’t feel right. I stood still and she walked towards me and I saw her face which seemed completely expressionless. She ended up walking right past me on the boardwalk about ten feet away yet never looked over at me, never seemed to notice anyone was even there.
By now I was really getting the creeps. She headed off the boardwalk and up a street as if in a trance and I couldn’t help but follow her. I was just riveted wondering what the heck she was doing.
Would she get in a car? Would she walk to a nearby home?
Well turns out we were walking right alongside the historic Moorlyn Theater. This was winter and it was closed tight. The building was on our left and when she came to the corner she made a left. I made that same left 10 seconds later and she was gone. Only there was nowhere to go. There was only the Moorlyn building locked up tight. She simply had vanished.
I’ve never known what to make of it. All I know is this building held a lot of history in Ocean City since 1905. I wonder if she was part of it.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.