It’s not uncommon for people to “move house,” but sometimes it’s the house itself that moves.
After months of anticipation, the Dinker-Irvin Cottage finally got on the move this week, traveling just a few hundred feet to the west from its longtime location near the intersection of Route 1 and Garfield Parkway in downtown Bethany Beach to a Town-owned lot just a few parcels away.
Planning to sell the lot upon which it had sat since 1911, Christina and Clem Edgar donated the historic cottage to the Town last year, amid some controversy over its proposed re-location to an undeveloped parcel that had been used by neighbors as a sort of unofficial park.
The cottage, built in 1904 by the Dinker family — one of the town’s founding families — had been moved to its longtime location after the Dinkers had built a larger house (known today as the Dinker House and located at 99 First Street). It was purchased by Christina Edgar’s family in 1925, having during the prior two years also served as home to the town’s post office.
As she watched the move on Monday, Edgar recalled having taken some of her first steps on the historic home’s front porch. But rather than bidding that part of her family’s history a sad farewell, Edgar said she was happy to see it being moved to a location where it would be preserved, rather than being torn down. She said she believed that if they had sold the lot with the cottage still on it, the buyer most likely would have simply razed it to build a modern beach house.
Instead, the historic structure will become home to a town history museum, which is expected to house the historical items and images currently on display in the town hall lobby, as well as others that have been collected or may be donated in the future.
The Bethany Beach Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee donated $20,000 to help pay for the cottage to be relocated, tapping into the funds it has raised through its annual Seaside Craft show each June.
The move itself had been delayed from its initial timetable of earlier this spring, but workers from East Coast Structural Movers in the past week completed raising it off its foundation and onto steel supports atop a trailer, removing the foundation and clearing the way for the actual move.
That work began Monday morning, moving a few yards as a time as workers placed mats below the trailer wheels, loosened and tightened support chains and trimmed a few branches that had ended up in the way before finally getting the home onto the new lot and then turning it 90 degrees to orient it once more toward Garfield Parkway. Its house number of 301 Garfield Extension remains above the front door, though it’s no longer entirely accurate.
The Dinker-Irvin Cottage is also being temporarily raised up about 10 feet off the ground, so as to leave room for construction of its new foundation, and once that is completed will be lowered back down to a similar height to where it stood for more than a century, just a few doors down the block.
Thanks to it only being moved down the block, the Town was spared the cost of having to have utility wires temporarily pulled down to make way for the house to cross any streets. That could have meant thousands of dollars in costs per wire.
Some retrofitting and basic updates are planned to take place before the museum will move into the structure, but the home — which has remained largely unchanged since the 1920s — will preserve the character of a traditional Bethany Beach cottage dating back almost to the town’s founding in 1901.
Edgar, who now lives in a modern beach house directly east of the Dinker Cottage’s former location, said on Monday that she and the Town were awaiting a final ruling from the National Register of Historic Places as to the home’s official historic status, which was expected in the next week or two.