Miss Thelma Conner a Legend and a Spirit
Some people think that Miss Thelma Conner is still in charge at the Dunes Manor Hotel on 28th Street in Ocean City, Maryland. This is particularly strange because Miss Thelma passed away in 1999. But she’s been seen by staff and guests and even mentioned on TripAdvisor in the last fifteen years. Of course, people who never knew Miss Thelma in life would be able to recognize her because of the larger-than-life portrait (aside a matching portrait of her husband Milton) of her that dominates the hotel’s grand entrance.
Considering what Miss Thelma had to endure in order to fulfill her life-long dream of building a grand hotel on the ocean, it’s no wonder she’s still hanging around. She and her husband, Milton rans the Dunes Motel for years and they always dreamed of building a big Victorian hotel on the ocean, and they had the land to do it, but time got away from them and before they could achieve their dream, Milton passed away. But Miss Thelma persevered and finally got it done.
A Dream Come True on April Fools Day
Thelma Conner is a legend in Ocean City. While most people at her age were making plans to take it easy, she was making plans to build an eleven-story, Victorian-style, full service hotel. Everyone said she was a fool to start something so large when she was so old. So as a response to those remarks, Thelma had the grand opening on April Fools Day, 1989. She was 75 years old, and ran the hotel for ten years before she passed away. Every day she came into the lobby for the afternoon tea and took a lot of joy in serving the guests.
Staff talks to Miss Thelma Often
The Dunes Manor is still a family-owned hotel, with a family feel to it. Guests and staff alike pass by Miss Thelma’s portrait and speak. They might say “Good morning, Miss Thelma” or “Goodnight, Miss Thelma” or “What do you think of this, Miss Thelma?” Talking to the portrait seems natural…. if you’re used to it. If you’re not, it’s a little creepy.
Her kind – yet demanding face in the oil painting begs to be recognized. Several staff members admit that sometimes Miss Thelma answers back. After adding new lamps to the front desk, the General Manager – in front of the front desk staff – turned to the portrait and said, “Thelma, what do you think of the new lamps?” Instantly the recessed lights on the vaulted ceiling above the portrait flashed, startling everyone – even the ones who were used to interacting with Miss Thelma’s. The GM admitted that no one at the hotel could remember those lights every working. At the time they couldn’t even figure out where the on / off switch was.
There’s also a light in the lobby known to blink when guests and staff reach out verbally to Miss Thelma, and the restaurant manager who has been a Dunes Manor employee since the hotel’s opening says that there is a rocker that acts up on the veranda outside the restaurant. She says that when the wind blows and all the rockers start rocking, there is always one lone rocker that sits perfectly still as if someone is holding it in place. The restaurant manager believes it’s the spirit of Milton Conner. He would have liked that view.
A Guest’s Ghostly Encounter
It’s not only the staff who sees Miss Thelma. Guests see her too. A guest posted a review on TripAdvisor about it. The post’s title was “Nice stay, but haunted.” According to the reviewer, her family stayed at the Dunes Manor for three nights. They loved their room and the service, but the reviewer’s fourteen-year-old son woke his mother up when he saw an old lady walk across their room and go through the balcony door.
The weird thing that happened was around 12:30 am the last night we were there. My 14 year old son woke me up to say he had seen an old lady walk across the room and go through the balcony door. He was wide-awake when this happened as he was playing a game on his phone. He described her to me and I had him Google a picture of Thelma Conner, the former owner who had since passed away. Sure enough it was her … So if you happen to stay in room 608 you may be able to say hello to the founder of the hotel.
Thelma Conner’s portrait on the wall of the lobby stairway does command the visitor’s attention. Recently, vandals came into the Dunes Manor early one Sunday morning, probably around 3 am. They somehow managed to climb up high enough to snag Miss Thelma’s portrait and make off with it. When the staff came in the next morning, Thelma was gone. It was a shock, not just because a pair of hooligans managed to pull it off, but also because that guardian presence that had been watching over them seemed absent. Two days later the portrait was found at the Econolodge next door to the Dunes Manor. A maid had found it in one of the rooms. So Miss Thelma returned to her proper place less than three days after she went on an adventure with a couple of thieves.
One can only wonder how they slept that night with Miss Thelma’s eye on them.
Have dinner at the Dunes and hear this an more stories – A “Haunted Repast”
The Dunes Manor Hotel will host a “Haunted Repast” where Mindie Burgoyne gives a virtual ghost tour of Ocean City through story-telling and pictures, while guests enjoy an elegant 3 course dinner. This is part of 2015’s “Dunes at Dark” series.