Dolle’s sign has a new home on Rehoboth Beach Museum

After 60 years overlooking ocean and Boardwalk, it now overlooks Lewes-Rehoboth Canal
June 29, 2022

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach Museum
511 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

It may not have an ocean view, but it’s still has a view of the water.

After spending 60 years perched on the corner of Rehoboth Avenue and the Boardwalk, the iconic Dolle’s sign in Rehoboth Beach was installed June 29 on the Rehoboth Beach Museum. It now overlooks the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.

The installation of the sign on the museum was 18 months in the making. Dolle’s Candyland owner Tom Ibach announced in December 2020 that he would be moving his store from its Boardwalk location by the beginning of the 2021 summer season, and the sign would be taken down by the end of 2021, he said. It was. The sign was removed Dec. 15.

The candy shop had been at the northeast end of Rehoboth Avenue since 1927. The original Dolle’s sign was installed in the early 1960s. The one removed in December was installed in the 1980s.

In the time between the announced move and the removal, the Rehoboth Beach Museum expressed interest in taking ownership of the sign. Ultimately, Ibach agreed to give the museum the sign after first offering it to the city.

A couple weeks after the sign was removed, the city’s board of adjustment unanimously approved variance requests from the museum to exceed the allowable square footage for a sign and to allow a wall-mounted sign to extend beyond the limits of the wall.

More than 250 donors contributed in excess of $35,000 to bring the sign to the museum.

The crew from Milton-based Rogers Sign Co. prepared the sign for the move June 28. Similar to when they took the sign down in December, the crew was methodical in the installation and got it done right the first time. They arrived with two bucket trucks, a crane and a flatbed trailer holding the sign. The brackets were installed on the side of the wall at distances to match the width of the metal poles holding the sign together. After about an hour of adjusting a little here and a little more there, all the poles lined right up.

Rogers Sign Co. owner Lynn Rogers said the poles weren’t necessarily straight after years of wear and tear. To ensure the poles and brackets fit snugly together, he said, all the premeasuring was done with a scale ruler.

Once the sign was in the place where museum officials wanted it, crew members bolted the poles to the brackets, then welded them in place.

Rogers said the sign weighs roughly 3,700 pounds, but the bracket system is designed to hold three or four times that weight. Those brackets are attached all the way through to the other side of the wall, he said.

“The wall will fall down before the sign does,” said Rogers.

Joe Falk was one of the hundreds of people who rode his bike past the installation. He didn’t know it was happening, and while he said he didn’t care too much about it, his wife did. She’ll be happy, he said, as he pulled out his phone and took a picture.

Local photographer Kevin Lynam, who co-owns Gallery on Savannah in Lewes, said he was on hand taking pictures for his own personal collection. He said he might give one to the museum or to Ibach, but otherwise they’re for him.

This is about sitting on the Boardwalk under the sign, eating caramel popcorn with his pop-pop, said Lynam.

Later on the day of installation, there was a brief ceremony recognizing the iconic sign and why it was important for the museum to preserve it.

The City of Rehoboth Beach actually owns the museum building. Mayor Stan Mills said the side of the museum was a fitting location for the 30-foot orange friend. It will continue to greet visitors as it’s done for years, he said.

Museum Executive Director Nancy Alexander said the museum has a tradition of preserving, and the Dolle’s sign was no different. The museum’s collection includes all kinds of mementos, including old restaurant signs.

Museum board President David Mann said getting the sign installed on the museum was a long process, but he was also blown away that 250 people donated to make the installation happen. It’s been left as it was taken down to let people see it, but eventually the plan is to have a restoration project, he said.

The sign is beginning to show its age, just like he is, said Mann.


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