By Maddy Vitale
The Ocean City Tabernacle confirmed Wednesday that it sold the Moorlyn Family Theatre at Moorlyn Terrace and the Boardwalk for $800,000.
Tabernacle officials had hoped to use the landmark building to recapture the days when the ministry had a presence on the Boardwalk. After those attempts failed, they felt it was time to sell the theater and waited for the right buyer.
“We had tried to go back to our roots where we always had a presence on the Boardwalk, but times have changed,” explained Tabernacle Board of Trustees Chairwoman Virginia Weber. “After trying it for a number of years, we decided to dedicate our time and resources to our main building at Wesley Avenue. We just couldn’t get our vision successfully to the Boardwalk.”
Ocean City Tax Assessor Joseph Elliott confirmed Wednesday that the property was sold for $800,000 on Sept. 28 to Sey West Realty Partners LLC of Ocean City. The buyers could not be reached for comment.
The total assessed value of the property is $1,552,300, including $1,150,900 for the land and $401,400 for the building, Elliott said.
Elliott said he did not know what the new owners plans were for the property.
The Tabernacle, which had owned the iconic property since 2012, put it up for sale in March 2018 for an asking price of $1.1 million.
The Tabernacle had renamed the Moorlyn Theatre as the Moorlyn Family Theatre and developed a programming mix of live stage performances, first-run films and classic movies from the theater’s glory days. Concerts, stage plays, magic and comedy shows were among the live entertainment.
“With the way movies are today, we wanted to do G-rated movies and there just weren’t a lot of them,” Weber said. “The movies to rent were expensive for an independent movie theater. We really wanted to do more of a ministry there and not just show movies.”
The Moorlyn is one of the oldest businesses in Ocean City and was one of the first attractions on the Boardwalk. It began operations in 1901 as Moore’s Bowling Casino, housing a bowling alley and later a roller skating rink, according to the Ocean City Historical Society.
In 1921, a 200-seat theater replaced the roller rink. The following year the property was renamed the Moorlyn Theatre and was showing movies ever since aside from interruptions with ownership changes.
Weber explained that a change in the times, demographics and just a lot of other things to do on the Boardwalk factored into the reasons why the Tabernacle could not achieve success with the theater.
She said while the Tabernacle is saddened that the ministry could not garner a following at the theater, there is much to be happy about at the Tabernacle complex at 550 Wesley Avenue.
“We hired a new CEO (Pastor Jay Reimer) in July, and we are hoping to use the building more with new programs,” she said.
She noted that the Son Club, a program the Tabernacle describes as a Christian Big Brothers and Big Sisters aftercare program, is expanding.
“We hope to be not just an Ocean City ministry, but a regional or South Jersey ministry,” Weber said.
For more information about the Ocean City Tabernacle visit http://www.octabernacle.org or call (609) 399-1915.