Serendipity arrives at its new home in Rodanthe ….WITH
VIDEO AND SLIDE SHOW By
of Serendipity, the “Nights in Rodanthe” beach
house, resumed pretty close to on schedule on Monday morning, January
and once the hulking building got rolling it took just 22 minutes to
get it to its new space down Highway 12.
lined the highway taking pictures, and some walked along with the
famous house the whole 2,500 or so feet to its new lot. A helicopter
“It was like a parade,” said Jim Charlet, manager
at Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station and Historic Site, who was one of
day-long efforts to get Serendipity off the beach at its old site,
where it was threatened by the ever-encroaching surf of the Atlantic
Ocean, were halted at dusk Friday just short of the highway’s
house is 45 feet high and 35 feet wide, and it weighs 83,000 pounds.
Jim Matyiko of Expert House Movers and his crew scrambled from daylight
Friday to let the house down off its pilings onto a trailer for the
move, but the Dare County Deputy Sheriff’s Office ultimately
judged that it would be too dangerous to take it out onto the busy
highway in the dark.
manager Mike Price noted at the time that Serendipity should be safe on
the trailer up off of the beach, away from pounding waves that had
undermined its cribbing timbers Thursday night.
thought it would take 45 minutes to an hour to make the short trip
south to East Beacon Road in Rodanthe. His company moved the
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1999 and is often called in on difficult
new lot is situated a good distance back from the ocean waves that
threatened the iconic beach house and drew concern and sympathy from
beach lovers across the country for a number of years. Serendipity has
two high towers, and since it was built in 1988, it has been the first
beach cottage to come into the view of travelers headed south from
Herbert C. Bonner Bridge across Oregon Inlet.
became even more famous as the site of “Nights in
Rodanthe,” a 2008 feature film that starred Richard Gere and
the ocean has been moving westward at the upper end of Hatteras Island
for a number of years, and several houses have fallen into the ocean.
People wondered after each new storm whether Serendipity was still
and Susan Creasy, of Champion, Pa., repeatedly repaired storm damage at
the house, but finally agreed to sell it last fall after Dare County
authorities declared it a public nuisance and ordered it moved or torn
down. Ben and Debbie Hess, of Newton, in western North Carolina, bought
the house to save it, they say. But they also hope its movie fame will
attract renters and help pay the mortgage. And two renters had signed
on before the move was completed.
had said all day Friday, in answer to questions from a shivering crowd
onlookers that reached 60 or so at one point, that the house was
“going down the road.”
as he walked beside the slowly trundling house, he could be heard
saying to somebody on his cell phone, “She’s going
down the road.”
had announced when movement stopped Friday that it would resume at 10
a.m. Monday. At 10, he was standing in front of the World War II
tractor that was ready to haul the big house out onto the road,
assuring North Carolina state troopers that Matyiko would be there any
minute with the required permits.
Trooper Chris Newbern, who is stationed in Manteo, joked with Price and
a handful of onlookers while they waited, explaining that the permit
would have details such as the width of the load and how many escorts
would have to be provided. He said it was his job to make sure the
document was observed to the letter.
permit tells you exactly what you’ve got to do,” he
said. “If it says you have to stand on one leg and go down
the road whistling Dixie, that’s what I have to
SUV with the mover’s trademark cigar poking out the window
showed up at 10: 20 a.m., and at 10:37 the big tractor, driven by Jim
Matyiko’s “big brother,” John Jr., puffed
smoke and the behemoth moved.
Brown, of Marsha M. Brown & Company, who sold the house to the
Husses, walked along the highway as the building moved, also talking on
her cell phone. She was talking to Michael Creasy, who wanted a
how he felt now that the house was finally out of danger, he said,
“It’s bittersweet, I guess. It’s good for
Serendipity. It’s very sad for Susan and I.”
Creasy said he’s looking forward to spending his week a year
in the house, which he and his wife were guaranteed in the deal.
“I still call it my house,” he said.
“Eventually I’ll stop doing that.”
paused briefly at the corner of Beacon Road and the highway while
workers got underneath and removed a concrete post they
couldn’t miss, and then coasted to a stop alongside the new
“I’m going to tell you those boys know what
they’re doing. They deserve every penny they got,”
that, it was a matter of making a big U-turn on the lot to put the
ocean end of the house back toward the sea, and the land side back out
toward Highway 12. It was an involved process because the new lot is
all sand and large iron plates had to be laid ahead of the load as it
it didn’t take long. Matyiko squinted to line up
surveyor’s stakes with the corners of the house, and stood
it go back a hair?” Price asked.
The big tractor huffed again and the house moved.
good, Jim. Lock it down right there,” Price said.
“I can live with that.” It was 1:45 p.m.
Matyiko will raise the house with cribbing timbers to a point where
Jeff Emanuelson of Emanuelson & Dad can get under it to insert
16-foot pilings into the sand below it. Emanuelson said he’ll
dig holes with an augur down to the water table, then put the pilings
in and use high pressure water to coax them a little deeper, and then
use a vibrating hammer to “vibrate them on down.”
Emanuelson said the pilings will be pressure-treated pine.
they are sunk they will be anchored with concrete, and the above-ground
pilings will be tied to them with notches and plates. He said it will
take about three working weeks to get the house back on its solid
meanwhile, has the job of putting the house back into the shape it was
in for the movie. Hollywood dressed Serendipity up with some white
porches and blue shutters that had to be removed after the shoot
because they were installed under a temporary permit.
Interiors for the movie were shot at another house that is arranged a
bit differently inside, but the Husses want the movie look to help
carry out the “Inn at Rodanthe” theme.
“We’ll have this house ready by the first
of April,” Price said. “There won’t be
any stopping. It will be seven days a week.” He
said the cost of the whole project will be on the order of $700,000 to
$750,000 when it is all done.