The Surf House was one of Atlantic City’s oldest hotels. It opened in 1855, one year after Absecon Island was incorporated as Atlantic City. The hotel was L-shaped, with a unique porch completely obscuring and extending past the front of the building on each side. It was located in the square of land bounded by Atlantic, Kentucky, Illinois, and Pacific Avenues, and had 350 rooms. In the resort’s early days, the Surf House served as an excursion destination for visitors arriving in Atlantic City by train. When a dedicated Excursion House was built in 1869, however, the Surf House experienced its first decline in business. In 1880, it became one of the first hotels to disappear from the Atlantic City skyline, though it wasn’t torn down in the conventional sense. Instead, it was purchased for $30,000 by Daniel Morris, who then, according to the Daily Union History of Atlantic City and County, “sold and scattered the buildings to a dozen widely different sections of the city.” The report noted that those pieces of the Surf House became “stores, hotels and tenements.” Meanwhile, the land which the Surf House occupied was divided into lots and also sold. Mount Vernon Avenue, the small street that today runs inbetween Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Kentucky Avenue, was originally known as Surf Place, in reflection of the hotel which once stood there.


For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
“Annals of Absegami, Vol. 2” Heston Coll. 974.984Hes
“The Daily Union History of Atlantic City and County”, Heston Coll. 974.985Hal

 The Surf House in an undated photograph.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H.Bk.974.985Hal.189

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