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Rehoboth Beach commissioners seek new home for Dolle's sign

Carol M. Highsmith
Library of Congress

Rehoboth Beach commissioners are debating the practicality of taking ownership of the iconic Dolle’s Candyland sign at the end of Rehoboth Avenue.


The iconic Dolle’s sign has welcomed visitors in Rehoboth Beach since the early 60’s, a fixture in the background of millions of family photos.


But the sign’s fate has been up in the air after Grotto Pizza bought the building in late June.


Earlier this month, Dolle’s owner Tom Ibach offered to donate the sign to the city, giving Rehoboth a chance to rescue it from being scrapped.


City commissioners debated the idea Wednesday.


Commissioner Susan Gay argues the sign is only iconc because it’s visible from the beach and boardwalk.


“While the concept of Dolle’s is certainly an important piece of our history, that sign may or may not be, and we may be able to save the history in other ways,” said Gay.


One possible option is moving the sign to the top of the Rehoboth Beach Museum, a project mayor Stan Mills says would bring its own challenges.


The sign was built in 1963, and requires a heavy support structure to keep it from falling in a storm. Mills says the museum roof may not be able to support such a structure, or could require expensive remodeling.


He says the museum roof has started to spring some leaks, and one of the old HVAC systems has been there since the building was an incehouse. 


Mills says it’d be highly likely the entire roof and HVAC systems would need to be replaced to accommodate the sign.


And on top of all of that, taking ownership of the sign means the city would have to absorb ongoing maintenance costs.


Commissioner Pat Coluzzi says relocating the sign to the museum may not be worth the cost.


“Part of that sign was about was seeing it from the beach, seeing it from the boardwalk — and putting it somewhere else is not particularly meaningful,” said Coluzzi.


The smaller blue sign on the ground floor of the building has already been donated to the Rehoboth Beach Museum according to Mills.


Commissioners recognize the sign as a landmark seen in countless family photos over the years, and putting it on ground level in a public park could create a photo opportunity for visitors.


The Grove park was the main one commissioners identified, right along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.


The commissioners settled on conducting a feasibility study to see if moving the sign to the top of the Rehoboth Beach Museum is even possible — and find any other options.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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