Former Royal Treat building is being picked for memories

Family members, interested individuals and groups preserving history before demolition
November 10, 2023

Story Location:
4 Wilmington Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Two things immediately came to mind when I heard the Royal Treat building on Wilmington Avenue in Rehoboth Beach was set to be demolished: 1. I now had enough demolition notices issued by the city to write another demolition story; 2. I wanted to get in the building, specifically the attic, before it was torn down.

The story was done in short order. Getting in the building proved to be more difficult. But I was recently able to do so with the help of Mark Henschke, a grandson of Funland founders Jean and Al Fasnacht. The Funland family owns the Royal Treat property.

I was in the building years ago. Scott Fornwalt, who ran Royal Treat with his parents and sister, took me into the attic in 2019. At the time, discussion of the proposed Belhaven Hotel project was just beginning at the planning commission. The old ocean-block building has a window in the attic facing Wilmington Avenue to the north, which gave me a good view of the Belhaven property. While I was up there, I took note of all the old stuff that had piled up over the years. Prior to the Royal Treat, the building had been home to a few different businesses – Reverend Morgan’s boarding house, Thawley’s Hotel and the Royalton Hotel – and it looked like each owner put junk in the attic for the next owner to deal with.

Henschke met me in the employee parking lot of the Royal Treat, which faces Delaware Avenue to the south and is across the street from Funland. He had been working up in a bucket lift repairing the Sea Dragon before it gets winterized.

“Chasing rust,” he said of the annual maintenance work after the season.

He walked me around the whole building.

“A lot of things have already been taken,” said Henschke.

Almost all of the kitchen equipment has been removed and will be used again. Henschke thinks it’s going someplace in Virginia.

The Rehoboth Beach Museum already picked through things for a display at some point in the future, he said.

He showed me the holes in the floor underneath where the ice cream freezers were located. He showed me the small bedrooms where Funland employees would stay during the summer. He showed me the living space used by the Fornwalts that still contained a bunch of their old stuff. He showed me the rough-cut two-by-fours that are actually 4 inches wide and 2 inches thick. 

“The plan is to try and save some of these old wood timbers too,” Henschke said.

On the third floor, there are mesh bags stuffed with plastic balls that used to be a part of the ball pit at Funland. Henschke said the machine they had to clean the balls was pretty cool and did a good job, but they would still run low sometimes because kids would pee in the pit three times a day.

One of the rooms had the remnants of a shooting game – the type where there’s a small bullseye that triggers some silly reaction if it’s hit.

Henschke said there’s been a group set up within the family to figure out who gets what of things that are being saved for the members. For example, there’s a swinging door on the first floor with a piece of tape on it that reads, “heritage.” Henschke said the old wooden ladder used to get from the third floor to the attic is also one of the items. So is an old wooden level.

Henschke said the family is going to save some of the original hardwood flooring and attempt to turn it into little wooden tokens that can be handed out.

There’s not much left in the attic. There are doors from when the structure was a boarding house. There’s some old bedroom furniture. There is a cracked glass covering for a street light.

“It’s a little soft up here,” said Henschke of the attic floor. “But if I’m not going through, you should be fine.”

About halfway through the tour, Henschke said the family explored the possibility of saving the house, but it just wasn’t financially feasible because federal flood regulations call for existing structures in flood zones to meet those regulations if renovations exceed 50% of the building’s value. That threshold would be passed very quickly if the family tried to renovate this building, he said.

“The value of this property isn’t in the building, it’s in the land,” he said.

There’s no denying that, but it’s also good that the family and others are interested in preserving the history.

Joke of the Week:

My aunt Camie sent me this one. She’s not taking credit for it, but she did think it was cute – so cute that it got two exclamation points. As always, send jokes to

Q: What sound does a 747 make on a bouncy landing?

A: Boeing, Boeing, Boeing.


  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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