State News

'Nights in Rodanthe' house stands tall after move

Posted May 6, 2010

— Perched precariously next to the Atlantic Ocean, the first house in Rodanthe, a tiny town in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, was a movie star in fall 2008.

The house served as the backdrop for "Nights of Rodanthe," a movie based on a bestseller by Wilmington author Nicholas Sparks and starring actor Richard Gere.

Just a year later, authorities wanted to condemn the house as a nuisance because of movie fans who tried to climb up its damaged stairs during high tides. Its septic, heating and air-conditioning systems were gone, torn away by 15-foot seas that had churned around the house during Hurricane Bill in August 2009.

Benn Huss, a bail bondsman who lives Newton and a fan of the movie, felt that he had to come to the rescue.

"We're going to save this house. We're going to restore it just like it was in the movie," Ben Huss said.

Rodanthe house_03 'Nights in Rodanthe' house is still standing

"He became obsessed with this house," his wife, Debbie, said. "We have drove everyone crazy with this house."

The first step: lifting the house off its foundation, placing it onto a trailer and trucking it seven-tenths of a mile down N.C. Highway 12, then back toward the ocean to a new waterfront perch less vulnerable to storms.

Painters Beth Hayes and Tina Gartelman joined in the restoration work. They have labored to bring the house's exterior back to life.

"It's fun. It's been an experience," said Hayes, who moved to Rodanthe from Raleigh six years ago.

"The only thing I haven't really cared for is all the people coming and taking pictures," Gartelman said. "It's interesting, but it slows you down."

Fans of the movie, though, have something to look forward to: The exterior boasts the blue shutters that were iconic in the movie, and the interior was remodeled based on the movie set, complete with antiques, floral wallpaper and fabric, and bead-board walls.

"We have got it as close to the movie as we could possibly get it," Ben Huss said.

Interior designer Rebecca Ennis, of Fuquay-Varina, tracked down vintage 1920s wallpaper of the same pattern that was used in the kitchen for the movie. Debbie Huss brought an antique walnut bed from Atlanta, and a family friend donated a working pump organ for the dining room.

The six-bedroom house, named "Serendipity," is up for rent through Vacation Traditions realty.

"It was too wonderful of a house to let fall into the ocean," Ben Huss said.

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  • Ol Forrester May 7, 8:08 a.m.

    I haven't seen the movie but I have many pleasant memories of renting vacation houses on the Outer Banks. I'm glad they were able to save the house.

  • Bogged Down May 6, 7:59 p.m.

    I think the house has been trying to commit suicide to escape the shame that was "Nights in Rodanthe."

  • cold hands warm heart May 6, 7:53 p.m.

    OHHH!!! I'm so glad the house was saved! So much of history just torn down. Even though I would never be able to afford a vacation there I am sooooo glad it was saved!

  • cantstandgoloanymore May 6, 7:09 p.m.

    OGE - so sorry you can't afford it. I'll cry a tear for you if you want.

  • pageshutter May 6, 6:30 p.m.

    Page plantation shutters provided the Plantation Shutters for the Movie. The production crew painted the shutters and hung them. If Mr Ben Huss would like to replace the shutters we
    would like to help them.

  • OzzzMan May 6, 6:03 p.m.

    Enough on this house! Get over it, please.

  • OGE May 6, 4:55 p.m.

    surprisingly in-season is only 3995.00

  • kittiboo May 6, 4:28 p.m.

    Glad it made the move- it is a really unique house, and I bet they'll make a KILLING off of the rentals.