Museum: Not roof, but maybe side of building for Dolle’s sign

After 60 years, iconic Rehoboth Beach symbol slated to come down by year’s end
November 12, 2021

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

With an end-of-year deadline looming to remove the Dolle’s sign from its Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk perch, one thing is for sure – the sign will not be going on top of the Rehoboth Beach Museum. However, said RBM Board President David Mann, the sign might still get mounted to the canal bridge side of the facility.

That way everyone can enjoy it and smile as they come into Rehoboth, he said.

There’s been a Dolle’s sign towering over the Boardwalk since the early 1960s. Sign owner Tom Ibach, a third-generation candyman, announced in late 2020 that he would be moving the location of his Dolle’s Candyland store from the Boardwalk. As part of the move, he said, the iconic orange sign would also be coming down. 

The Cape Gazette first reported in October that the museum’s board of directors had voted unanimously in favor of taking custody of the sign. During a Nov. 8 commissioner workshop, Mann said in the month since the vote, the museum has evaluated its roof, and it was decided rather quickly that area wouldn’t work. He said there’s really only one portion of the roof the sign could fit – the southeast corner, closest to the traffic circle – but installing it would require removing and replacing the roof to secure it properly.

The sign on the Boardwalk building has had virtually no maintenance in the last 30 years. It is designed to withstand 125 mph winds, said Mann.

Mayor Stan Mills has been a part of the negotiations among the city, which actually owns the museum building, the museum board and Ibach. Adding to the reasoning against a roof installation, Mills said putting the sign there would require placing it 10 to 15 feet higher than its current height because of the museum’s tower facing the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.

Mann said the estimated cost of removal and installation is approximately $30,000, all of which the museum would pay for. He said the plan would be to remove the sign in one piece, preserve its current patina and then get it up on the side of the building.

Mills said the owner of another business had approached him about the sign, but Ibach did not want another business to get it. The city or the museum were the two options, said Mills.

Commissioner Tim Bennett said the sign is iconic in its current location, but also questioned if the city wants the Dolle’s sign mounted on the side of the museum for all visitors to see as they enter the city.

“It makes a statement,” said Bennett. “We’re not the Nation’s Summer Capital, it’s Dolle’s Saltwater Taffy.”

Mills said another business owner also reached out to him to question if putting a commercial sign on the side of the building was appropriate.

In response, Mann said the museum’s job is to preserve the city’s history, and three generations of Rehoboth beachgoers have enjoyed that sign. The museum is not in the saltwater taffy business and it doesn’t plan to be, said Mann, adding the museum will still take the sign until something is figured out, even if the side of the building ends up not being a feasible location.

Ultimately, the workshop discussion was left with the museum and city officials continuing to work with Ibach toward the goal of having a decision ready for the Nov. 19 commissioners meeting.

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