Rehoboth officials support saving Dolle’s sign

Boardwalk landmark slated to come down when lease expires at end of January
January 8, 2021

Story Location:
Dolle’s Candyland
1 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

His comments were brief, but in the first commissioners meeting since news broke about the Dolle’s sign coming down off its Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk perch, Commissioner Richard Byrne voiced his strong support for keeping the sign in town and urged his fellow commissioners to do the same.

Three weeks ago, Dec. 19, the Cape Gazette first reported that, after nearly 100 years, Dolle’s Candyland and its iconic sign would be moving from its Rehoboth Avenue and the Boardwalk location at the end of January. The peach-colored sign has been on top of the building since it was rebuilt after being destroyed in the Storm of ‘62.

At that time, Dolle’s owner Tom Ibach, a third-generation candyman and grandson of Dolle’s founder Thomas Pachides, said the rent was going up and he would be moving the candy-making operation to his Ibach’s Candy by the Sea store about 100 feet west on Rehoboth Avenue. He said he wouldn’t leave the sign up if he wasn’t at the Boardwalk location anymore.

The topic of the sign wasn’t on the Jan. 4 workshop agenda. However, Byrne brought it up during commissioner comments at the end of the meeting. He said he supports Ibach moving the sign to on top of the new Dolle’s location and that commissioners should do whatever is needed to make sure that happens in short order.

In an email Jan. 5, Byrne described the Dolle’s sign as the Rehoboth Beach postcard. It’s a historic symbol for the community, he said.

“I have received numerous correspondence from residents, businesses, and visitors expressing sentiment for the Dolle’s sign. The consistent message is that the sign is indeed an iconic symbol of our city that holds emotional attachment for residents and visitors alike,” said Byrne. “Regardless of [Ibach’s] decision, the city is thankful for the many years Dolle’s and its sign has stood proudly at the corner of the Boardwalk and Rehoboth Avenue.”

Mayor Stan Mills also made a brief comment on the sign during the meeting. Without being specific, he said he intends to make the future of the sign an agenda item for an upcoming meeting. 

In an email Jan. 5, Mills said, in the weeks since the news broke, he’s received feedback from many people indicating their passion for keeping the sign in town. He said many have offered suggestions – force the property owner to keep the sign, get the sign designated a national historic treasure, create a city historic designation, relocate it atop the Rehoboth Beach Museum or allow its relocation to the new site of the Dolle’s store.

While he supports keeping the sign in Rehoboth, Mills said the sign doesn’t meet city code and no decisions have been made on how to allow it to remain. He said Ibach could seek a variance from the board of adjustment or a change in the sign code.

For his part, Ibach said he doesn’t know the date the sign will come down. He confirmed he’s working with the city to see if it can be moved and, he continued, he has to have a structural engineer check the structural integrity of the roof at the Ibach’s store to see if it can accommodate the weight and withstand the wind.

The lease on the property ends Jan. 31. Ibach said he can keep the sign on the building a little past the end of the lease.

In the immediate future, Ibach said he’s more focused on moving equipment, fixtures and inventories out of the current Dolle’s location than he is about the location of the sign.

“Quite frankly, moving the sign is the least of my worries right now,” said Ibach.

This topic will continue to be discussed at the city level. The next group to weigh in will be the city’s Boardwalk and beach committee, which has scheduled a meeting for 10:30 a.m., Monday, Jan. 11. One of the agenda items calls for an update on the loss of the sign from the Boardwalk viewscape.

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