House to Home

Rich History, Bright Future
Getting the royal treatment in Ocean City

By Mary Nestor

David Abel along with his wife, Candace, and their 12 children spend their summers walking in the footsteps of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby.  The fact that these footprints were made in sand and have been washed away by decades of time doesn’t change the fact that the Abel family’s summer home comes complete with a rich history.

At the southern edge of Ocean City, on the corner of 26th and Wesley, they have been blessed with an ideal location to continue a tradition that began with a famous family in the 1920’s.

Princess Grace of Monaco spent her childhood summers playing among these very dunes with her sisters and brother and then later with her nephews, nieces, and children of her own.  Her father, John B. Kelly, built a summer home and later a larger beach house for the growing Kelly clan.  By the time it was torn down in 1002, the Philadelphia Kelly’s had spent more that 50 years enjoying the natural beauty and hosting their friends and famous guests.

Dedicated to the Kelly family legacy, Eustace Mita, CEO of Achristavest developed “Princess Grace,” a spectacular home divided into two independent units on the site of the original home.  Here, expert craftsmanship combines with the natural beauty of the surrounding shore to create a masterpiece of form and function.  And for the Abels, it is a perfect fit.”

“An absolute dream,” says David when he remembers the first time he and his wife discovered the finished home.  “We fell in love with everything about it.”  Flowers cascading from the window boxes reminded them of their Pennsylvania roots, and a long list of unique architectural features sealed the deal.

Fortunately, this duplex-style living suited the Abels perfectly because they, too, have a unique family legacy that requires plenty of square footage.  Twelve children call David “Dad” and Candace “Mom.”  By adopting special needs children from all over the world, the couple not only enriched their own lives, but they went on to establish an entire organization of people dedicated to helping special needs children find loving adoptive families.  Brittany’s Hope advocates for adoptive families and is named after their daughter who died in a tragic car accident almost nine years ago.

Their beautiful beach town house had become a refuge of sorts where the Abel family can reunite for summer visits away from the hustle of “real life” and enjoy each other’s company before heading back to school, or work, when summer fades away.

”We work very hard for nine months and spend three months here.  All of our children can come and reconnect that bond.”  Summer evenings, for example, the family can be found gathered on a favorite deck enjoying music, laughter, and conversation.  “If we were back in our main home, our children would be going in every different direction,” says David.  “This location is absolutely soul soothing,”

Developer Mita couldn’t agree more.  “Our whole goal, our philosophy as a company, is that we only do beach and bay homes.  Beach and bay is the only way,” he says with a laugh. 

Despite its footprint as a double residence, Mita and his crew modified the circulation by adding a shared elevator that connects the two homes.  This allows the Abels to use every inch of the three-story, 8,000-square foot home.

While Hearty boards on the façade and “dimensional” roofing replace the cedar shingles of the Nantucket style, the design itself is still very traditional.  Durable Azek trim and dense Ipe hardwood decking pops against the sea foam green palette.  Plenty of windows in a variety of shapes and sizes, balconies, arched passageways, and a lighted cupola define the dynamic architectural line.

From the top down, no detail is overlooked in helping make this home as captivating as its historical roots.  “We want everything we do to be the best of the best,” says Mita.

Inside, decorator Cynthia DiMaio of Lemons and Limes developed a refined color scheme that includes a seaside motif of shapes and accessories.  The project was fully furnished before it went on the market and the Abels could not be more pleased.

They simply had to bring along their personal effects, their family photographs, and special pieces and the home was ready for them from the start.  David is completely content.  “We bought it because we love the home, the lot, and the location.”  The fact that he is following in some famous footsteps is part of the charm, but it hasn’t changed the way David feels about the home.  “It’s not about self.  It’s about family time, bonding, and memories that no amount of money can buy.”


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