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Rehoboth Beach Museum will display Dolle’s sign

Katie Tabeling

The Rehoboth Beach Historical Society & Museum proposed mounting the Dolle’s sign on its facade facing the canal, so it greets each visitor as they enter the resort. This rendering was complete by the Cape Gazette. | PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF REHOBOTH BEACH

REHOBOTH BEACH — The Dolle’s Candyland sign has found a new home, but final arrangements on who will pay the $30,000 to move it from its iconic location has yet to be decided.

Rehoboth Beach Historical Society & Museum board president David Mann announced Monday that the historical society would accept the sign and mount it on its building at 511 Rehoboth Ave. building. According to the feasibility study conducted by Rogers Signs Company, it would be best mounted on the facade of the building rather than mounting it on the roof with metal scaffolding

“The only viable place that can handle a static load would be near the brick walls [facing Canal Ave.] which we did not feel would be any welcome to the city of Rehoboth Beach,” Mann told the Rehoboth Beach Commissioners on Monday morning. “The west side of the roof is wooden versus steel I-beams, and you can see it’s rather aged [in other parts of the roof].”

The cost of just under $30,000 includes removal at roughly $10,000 and reinstallation at $20,000. The sign would have to be driven less than a mile away from the former Dolle’s store on a flatbed truck. Rogers Signs, the company that studied the feasibility, is also the company that rebuilt the sign after 2002 storm damage.

Mann indicated that the historical society would be willing to take responsibility for funding the sign’s removal and maintenance. However, the city would still be able to financially support the move if the city commissioners choose to do so. The Rehoboth Beach Main Street organization is also willing to fundraise or secure grants for the project.

The Rehoboth Beach Historical Society & Museum first became interested in preserving the sign when Dolle’s Candyland owner Tom Ibach announced last year he would be moving out of 1 Rehoboth Ave. due to high rent costs. Museum Executive Director Nancy Alexander first contacted Ibach and met with him to discuss the proposition.

Ibach has offered to donate the sign to the city, with the condition that if the city is no longer interested in maintaining it, it would be returned to him. For months, the city has debated the best location for it and whether the cost was worth it. Mayor Stan Mills reported that one business owner offered to take it, but Ibach rejected the offer.

Removing the sign would be a significant undertaking, as Mann said it would “involve literal roof removal and re-engineering.” The sign itself is 35-feet wide and 17-feet tall, and Rogers Signs anchored the Dolle’s sign and re-rubberized the roof around the mount when they reinstalled it 18 years ago. The sign itself is made of an aluminum PVC composite.

“There’s a tremendous amount of structure that has to be dealt with, including having a welder cut a lot of those pipes loose,” Mann said. “The structure as it was designed when it’s originally installed, was intended to be able to withstand 125 mph winds.”

Some commissioners questioned the wisdom in relocating the sign at all, as Dolle’s Candyland still exists, just in a venue that is not grandfathered in to allow 17-foot-tall signs on the roof. Commissioner Tim Bennett pointed out it was not much the sign rather than the iconic location that overlooks the boardwalk.

“I know we all love the sign in its current location, but it is a business sign. Is that how we want to welcome people into the city? Is that the Rehoboth Beach beach brand?” Bennett asked.

“We are a museum and we’re in the business of preserving the history, culture and architecture of this city,” Mann responded. “The landscape of the boardwalk is changing and it’s going to continue to change. That sign is iconic to three generations of beachgoers and we’re making the effort to preserve it so they can continue to enjoy it, as opposed to having it disappear.”

The Rehoboth Beach Commissioners have yet to vote on whether to donate the sign to the Rehoboth Beach Museum or to fund the project.

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