Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Last Inn on the Sea (9 Pics)

With the winter storms drawing closer, this house might look just a tad precarious for a weekend escape to the beach. But it has quite the story to tell that I thought I might share with you…

The photograph above was taken in 2009 when the house had been reluctantly declared a nuisance and condemned by the Rodanthe community on Hatteras Island in North Carolina. Locally nicknamed “Serendipity”, the house had also just finished starring in a Hollywood movie alongside Richard Gere and Diane Lane, called Nights in Rodanthe.

Screen stills of Serendipity from the film, Nights in Rodanthe (Warner Brothers)
Capri blue shutters and a sprawling wraparound deck had been added for the movie and then stripped by the film crew afterwards, leaving it looking quite sorry for itself after a brief moment in the limelight. Vandals and looters also came looking for souvenirs.
‘Looking sorry for itself’ however, wasn’t Serendipity’s only problem…
When the house was first built in the 1980s, there was over 400 feet of sand separating it from the Atlantic, with piles set in concrete 14 feet deep. Over the years, extreme coastal erosion from hurricanes and ocean wash had condemned Serendipity to the fate of a watery grave in the Atlantic Ocean. After every storm, islanders would ask each other, “Is Serendipity still there?”.
Above, Serendipity is captured by Bryan Elkus at the time of Hurricaine Ida, 2009.

The owners had been trying to sell the house for several years and unable to rent it out to vacationers because it has been condemned and uncondemned so many times. “Everything we have is tied up in it,” said Susan Creasy speaking to the local press in 2009, who had bought it with her husband in 2003 for $525,000 from the original owner and builder, Roger Meekins. “We’ve kept paying our mortgage even though we’ve had no rent for two years.” After a particularly rough winter following the film’s release, locals were finally preparing to say goodbye to their hometown’s much-loved seaside oddity, when all of a sudden, in the Spring of 2009, the drowning house was thrown a lifeline.
A couple from Newton, North Carolina had seen the film, Nights in Rodanthe, and loved it so much that they offered to not only buy the house, but move it down the beach to a safer location onto a plot of land that they would also purchase. In 2010, the almighty task of moving Serendipity began…
Power lines were taken down, traffic stopped and just about the whole island came out to see the iconic beach house make its 30 minute journey along the coastal highway to its new location, still with uninterrupted views of the atlantic, just at a safer distance from the ocean waves.
If you’re curious to see what moving a 45 foot tall, 35 foot wide and 83,000 pound house looks like, this video captures those first few hairy moments…

Today, the once sorry-looking Serendipity has been fully restored and refurbished as a vacation rental under the name “Inn at the Rodanthe“, as it was called in the 2008 movie adaptation of Nicholas Spark’s popular romance novel. The new owners have also replicated the embellished exterior and kitschy interior decor of the house in the film starring Richard Gere, as closely as possible.
The Capri blue shutters have been brought back, as well as the wraparound deck, and on the inside, the couple tracked down everything from the vintage wallpaper to some of the actual props used as furnishing on the film set.

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