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Two for the price of none

Free century-old examples of Rehoboth Beach bungalow, Lewes farmhouse
March 30, 2020

Story Location:
Lewes farm house
16797 Coastal Highway
Lewes  Delaware  19958
United States

Looking to own, refurbish and then live in a piece of Cape Region history? Well, there are two century-old homes – a Rehoboth Beach bungalow and a Nassau farmhouse – available for free to someone who wants to move them.

The Rehoboth Beach house is at 413 Rehoboth Ave. The property is one of three consecutive lots recently purchased by Clear Space Theatre Company, which currently going through the design phase of a new theater on those lots. As part of an environmental assessment required by the United States Department of Agriculture for a community facilities loan, the structure was designated as a rare surviving example of a beach bungalow. Clear Space has applied for a $4.8 million loan to help fund the $8.8 million project.

In an email March 19, Clear Space Executive Director Wesley Paulson said the theater must attempt to market the house because of the designation. He said the one-story structure is being offered in as-is condition and includes the house only, not any portion of the lot the house sits on.

Paulson said the theater must clear the site as part of constructing a new facility. During a meeting March 10, Clear Space revealed a change to the design of the proposed theater – from one building larger than 25,000 square feet that housed all operations, to two buildings that includes a theater a little smaller than 15,000 square feet and an administrative office at less than 9,000.

Paulson said the house still has many exterior and interior details from its original construction in the 1920s. Details include the large front porch, siding, interior paneling and plumbing fixtures, he said.

“The theater desires to see the house relocated from the site, restored and reused,” said Paulson. “It would be a win-win situation for Clear Space and the community if the house can be moved and be accessible to the public or adapted for residential use.”

Due to the size of the house and the cost of required permits from Delaware Department of Transportation and Delmarva Power, Paulson warned the move won’t be cheap. He said Clear Space has already done some investigating into the move.

“A house moving contractor estimated a price in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on distance,” said Paulson. “Any person planning to move the house will need deep pockets.”

Interested parties can receive a copy of the request for proposals from Clear Space by calling 302-227-2270 or emailing info@clearspacetheatre.org.

Majestic Route 1 farmhouse, outside of Lewes

The second home is a two-story farmhouse on the northbound side of Route 1, just north of the Nassau bridge.

Lifelong Cape Regioner Ron Hagan is the one looking to move the farmhouse. He said his grandparents bought the house in the late 1920s or early 1930s, and lived there until they died in the mid-1990s. He said his parents have been renting the house since then, but the house is beginning to show its age.

“It’s solid construction, but the amount of repairs needed outweighs how much we can realistically spend on it,” said Hagan.

The home has a detached garage, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, dining room and living room. Hagan said the house sits on cinder blocks and its interior frames are oak.

“It’s still a great majestic farmhouse,” said Hagan. “In general, we’d hate to tear it down because there’s got to be a better purpose for it, but it would take money we don’t have.”

Growing up in Mill Pond Acres, right across the street, Hagan spent much of his childhood at the house. He said he would ride his bike or walk to his grandparents’ house daily.

“Both of my parents worked, so I’d get off the bus at this house,” said Hagan. “Oh my gosh, I’ve got so many memories.”

Hagan said the decision to offer the house for free is strictly business – the family has plans for the property. He estimated a person could move and refurbish the house for roughly $250,000.

“That’s a great deal for a structure this size around here,” he said.

The signs announcing Hagan’s free home have been in place for over a week now, and Hagan said there’s been some interest.

“It’s a first-come, first-served scenario,” he said.

For more information on the house, 16797 Coastal Highway, call Hagan at 302-381-2607.

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