By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(March 23, 2023) Most people in Ocean Pines know the name Steen. Many residents regularly drive by the Steen Homes sign in front of their office on Ocean Parkway.
But what some might not know is that Marvin Steen, the founder of Steen Builders, has been instrumental in the development of Ocean Pines since the first house was built.
Steen was in charge of building houses for Boise Cascade/Kingsbury Homes. He joined up with Harvey Hastings, a friend from his time at Goldey-Beacom College in Delaware.
In 1968, 28 parcels comprising more than 2,500 acres of land, were purchased by Boise Cascade for a total of $4 million. Later, the company purchased two parcels in Ocean City for $400,000, where the beach club is now.
“I grew up on the Indian River. I drove through here and saw all this money being spent and I knew good and well it was going to work,” Steen said.
But when Steen told his wife’s grandfather where he was working, he could not believe it. He said, “All that’s there is water and trees.”
“And when they started in this place, that’s all it was.”
Steen and Hastings worked out of a model home that Boise Cascade/Kingsbury Homes built on Ocean Parkway. “There were about 25 models for buyers to choose from,” he said.
“Kingsbury had the best salesforce. They sold $1 million in lots in one week, priced at $10,000 for a wooded property and $25,000 for a water property.”
“Boise Cascade had deep pockets,” remarked Steen. “Everything they said they would do, they did.”
“They built the beach club, the yacht club, the country club, and a golf course,” he said. “Everything they did was first class.”
“They would fly potential buyers in, put them up in hotels in Ocean City. They had a boat that came across the bay from the beach club to the yacht club.”
“They brought every customer to the country club and the yacht club.”
He said the food at all the restaurants was great. “They were good or they would be fired. Boise Cascade knew what they were doing.”
“After a few years, Harvey walked into the office and said he was going to travel the world,” Steen said. “I followed him out the door and started building on my own after that.”
“I built a model home next door to their [Boise Cascade/Kingsbury] model home,” he said. “I was a small custom builder. One at a time.”
At first, most of his customers bought lots from Boise Cascade and then came to him to build a custom home.
Then in 1975, Steen bought more than 500 developed lots from Boise Cascade in Ocean Pines and in 1978, he bought waterfront property in the Pines and developed it into Wood Duck Isle.
“It was just Boise Cascade and me,” Steen said. “No other big developer came into Ocean Pines.”
By 1981, Steen bought Wood Duck Isle II and III and developed it into single-family lots, on which he built large luxury homes.
He built townhomes in Wood Duck IV. And in 1992, he purchased 185 lots and sold them as lots and lot-and-house packages. Today he is selling 100-foot-wide lots in a new section of Ocean Pines. His son, Greg, has joined him in the family business as vice president.
“Most people cannot believe what is here,” Steen said. “The vision of Ocean Pines was developed and sold just like they said it would be.”
Today, three generations of Steen’s live in Ocean Pines. Steen and his wife, Beverly, and his daughter and son also live in Ocean Pines with their families.
Steen said most of his buyers bought beach houses here and are now wanting to settle here full time in a larger house. He also gets a many buyers who started out in Ocean City, but now want more of a community to live in full time.
Most people think that retirees all want to move to Florida. But Steen said, “The whole world wants to come to Worcester County. We are getting a lot of people here too.”