Beach and Bay Cottage Tour brings new flavor to public eye


Next week, the 17th Annual Beach and Bay Cottage Tour, benefiting the Friends of the South Coastal Library (FOSCL), will once again return to the area, allowing participants to walk through 10 exquisite homes throughout the Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island areas.

Coastal Point • File Photo: #1 – D’Amico House – 41 Inlet View Court, South Shore Marina  Designed by Tom D’Amico to take advantage of the spectacular panoramic views on the Indian River Inlet and decorated by Becky D’Amico, this 7,000 square foot residence is stunning.  From the reCoastal Point • File Photo
#1 – D’Amico House – 41 Inlet View Court, South Shore Marina Designed by Tom D’Amico to take advantage of the spectacular panoramic views on the Indian River Inlet and decorated by Becky D’Amico, this 7,000 square foot residence is stunning. From the restored grandfather’s clock in the foyer to the octagon shaped rooms upstairs, the emphasis is on sweeping space combined with elements of coziness. In addition to Tom’s photographic studio, a webcam in his office allows the D”Amicos to share their breathtaking views with others online at http://www.indianriverinlet.com.

In the past, the event has been one of the most successful fund raisers for the library, as well as a favorite summertime treat for locals and vacationers from all over. On Wednesday and Thursday, July 23 and 24, from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days, guests can come and go as they please, experiencing a spectacle of elegant coastal dwellings.

“The tour brings a lot of people to the area,” said FOSCL’s public relations chairperson, Joan Gordon. “Everyone’s in full gear and getting ready. We’ve had nothing but full support from the community each year for this annual event, and as the area has grown, people can see more and more of the homes in the area.”

With decorative and developing influences from across the globe, each home brings something new to the tour that has yet to be seen, even in 17 years.

When the Beach and Bay Cottage Tour began nearly two decades ago, six to eight homes were featured each year, but with the area’s growth and the tour’s success each year, more homes have been added to the two-day event.

“It was a much smaller thing back then,” said Gordon, now in her ninth year assisting on the tour.

Long-time resident Betsy Baxter was one of the first to help give the tour its start.

And a growing following has influenced more and more changes over time. In 2000, committee member Victoria Manning was responsible for adding innovation and moving forward, introducing a cocktail party and coaxing larger sums of money to be contributed for the cause. Since then, the tour has been a sell-out success. It has been limited to 2,400 tour-goers at $30 per ticket – generally all sold by the time the homes open to visitors.

“It has really developed a reputation,” said Gordon. “It’s a big happening in our area. People actually arrange their vacations around the tour. We start getting inquiries about it at the first of the year.”
Coastal Point • File Photo: #2 – Poffenberger House – 38360 Virginia Avenue, Bethany Lakes  From the copper and stone fireplace in the great room to the hand painted ceiling in the master bedroom, Mary Lou and Wright Poffenberger’s house in filled with treasures.  Already a repositoCoastal Point • File Photo
#2 – Poffenberger House – 38360 Virginia Avenue, Bethany Lakes From the copper and stone fireplace in the great room to the hand painted ceiling in the master bedroom, Mary Lou and Wright Poffenberger’s house in filled with treasures. Already a repository of recent family history – a fortieth wedding anniversary party and their son’s wedding rehearsal dinner – and heirlooms including a grandfather’s clock passed down generations, the house includes a loft area with a pool table and a private reserve for their two granddaughters decorated in a jungle motif. A screened porch and a deck provide outdoor living space, while a “beachy” sunroom brings the outdoors inside.

Those who attend this year’s tour will receive complimentary tote bags with Delaware Beach Life and Chesapeake Home magazines, as well as an opportunity to participate in the Dinner for Two Raffle, which boasts an evening at some of the beach area’s most popular dining locations, and the Special Art Raffle, offering artwork from of the area’s most renowned painters.

Tickets for the raffle are now on sale at the South Coastal Library’s temporary location at Creekside Plaza on Route 26 in Millville and will be available at The Gallery on Central, located at 10 Central Avenue in Ocean View, and at selected homes on the day of the tour.

Tour tickets will also be available for pick-up at The Gallery on Central.

Money raised with the tour will benefit the South Coastal Library and the Friends during construction of the facilities on Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach. The revamped library will now include the Freeman Cultural Center, both set to open by spring of next year. A capital campaign to help fund the project began in 2005, with a variety of events contributing financially, as well. FOSCL contributed $5,000 to kick off the fundraising for the expansion. And most of that money was accumulated from cottage tours of the past.

“You can really start to see the progress we’re making,” said Gordon. “We’ve come a long way, and by next year’s tour, the new library will be open.”

The transfer of books, computers and administration to the library’s temporary location has proven to be a challenge for tour organizers, as available space at the site is considerably limited.

“Selling tickets has been difficult,” Gordon said. “We’ve been working out of a smaller location, and advertising hasn’t been quite as easy. It’s been a challenge, but we’re working around it the best we can. It’s exciting to see something like the changes that have already occurred.”

Along with the support from FOSCL and participation from tour-goers, there are plenty of others who have put their time and effort into the event.

Coastal Point • File Photo: #3 – Smith House – 8 Daisy Avenue, Ocean View  Purchased by Cindy and Duncan Smith in 1999, this historic cottage was built in 1839 on land owned by the Dolby family since the time of the American Revolution.  It is a veritable treasure trove, including aCoastal Point • File Photo
#3 – Smith House – 8 Daisy Avenue, Ocean View Purchased by Cindy and Duncan Smith in 1999, this historic cottage was built in 1839 on land owned by the Dolby family since the time of the American Revolution. It is a veritable treasure trove, including a collection of family photos in the Black and White Photo Room, childlike swings and little footprints on the living room ceiling, a cupboard full of homemade Christmas plates, a farm sink and a tobacco ladder in the rustic kitchen, and a bathroom outfitted with weathered shower doors, an iron bathtub, and a kayak on the wall. To add to the whimsy, there are bleacher seats from the Lord Baltimore School gym, a children’s art nook, and love notes scattered in closets and on walls.

“The homeowners who participate are very generous,” said Gordon. “They’re willing to open their homes to everyone. I think they realize what a wonderful asset the library is to the area. As the community grows, the library has become more and more important.”

A collection of people on the tour committee come together each year to make the event happen again.

“We have a lot of incredible people,” said two-year committee Chairwoman Faith Denault. “Our traffic and advertising committees are very dedicated. Most of these folks have been working on the tour one way or another for years. It’s become a finely-oiled machine.”

The Beach and Bay Cottage Tour may reach its height in the summer, but it’s an ongoing process all year long.

“We start working in August for the following year,” said Gordon, “and we all have a good time and get pleasure out of doing it.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” noted Denault, “but it’s getting a little more difficult to find homes due to closed-gate communities. For homes that are beachside, we sometimes have to bus people in, but getting the homes is just part of the deal. We’re getting more and more people involved each year and putting the word out there.”

More than 400 volunteers contribute to the cause, from people helping with parking to hosting and supervising the homes.

“It’s by far our largest fundraising activity,” said Denault. “It goes over and above what the county brings [financially] to the library.” Sussex County is the official operator of the library, which sees the benefit not only of volunteer fundraisers but volunteer staff, in addition to its paid staff.

Coastal Point • File Photo: #4 – Stewart House – 175 Willow Oak Avenue, Bear Trap Dunes  Kathy and Joseph Stewart bought this beautifully decorated dream retirement home built for local developer Josh & Michelle Freeman after Josh’s untimely death in 2006.  Although the house came fCoastal Point • File Photo
#4 – Stewart House – 175 Willow Oak Avenue, Bear Trap Dunes Kathy and Joseph Stewart bought this beautifully decorated dream retirement home built for local developer Josh & Michelle Freeman after Josh’s untimely death in 2006. Although the house came fully appointed with lovely tropical Tommy Bahama furnishings, Kathy, who has moved fifty-seven times in her life, can’t wait to transform the house with many of her personal items when they can come to live full time in south coastal Delaware. Visitors to the home are greeted by Brazilian cherry floors that lead to a cozy gentleman’s hideaway, a terra cotta colored powder room, a secluded dining area, a state of the art kitchen, and a great room with expansive views of a pond and the golf course.

For those interested in attending the tour or for more information about ticket availability, check at the South Coastal Library, temporarily at Creekside Plaza in Millville, go online at www.foscl.com or call Joan Gordon at (302) 537-2120.

Pre-ordered tickets can be picked up after May 16 at The Gallery on Central in Ocean View. Any remaining tickets will be available the day of the tour at the gallery only.

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Coastal Point • File Photo: #5 – Whaselsky House – 37481 Oliver Drive, Bayview Landing  A strong sense of color and light are evident in the three bedroom “quad home” of Ellen Begun and Bill Whaselsky.  From the golden chandelier over the dining room table to the iridescent tile in Coastal Point • File Photo
5 – Whaselsky House – 37481 Oliver Drive, Bayview Landing A strong sense of color and light are evident in the three bedroom “quad home” of Ellen Begun and Bill Whaselsky. From the golden chandelier over the dining room table to the iridescent tile in the kitchen, to the shimmering aquamarine cove ceiling over the bed in the master bedroom, this house vibrates with color and art. Many of the furnishings are strikingly contemporary, mixed with personal items that include Asian pieces, art by Peter Max, and herds of zebras. Even the garage is as neat as a pin and serves as an extension of the art displayed inside the house.



Coastal Point • File Photo: #6 – Kerxton House - 11238 Signature Boulevard, Bayside  The sun and the sea, especially the bright colors favored in the Caribbean, provided inspiration for this spacious and comfortable family beach house of Jill and Robert Kerxton.  The front rooms traCoastal Point • File Photo
##6 – Kerxton House - 11238 Signature Boulevard, Bayside The sun and the sea, especially the bright colors favored in the Caribbean, provided inspiration for this spacious and comfortable family beach house of Jill and Robert Kerxton. The front rooms traditionally used for the living and dining rooms have been transformed into a pool room and a pub room. Artwork from many local artists and a whimsical collection of playful metal sculptures adorn indoor spaces. In addition to an upper level deck, the downstairs features a rear screened porch and a large screened porch on the side with a two story, twenty foot ceiling and outdoor speakers - the spot where most of the summertime action takes place.



Coastal Point • File Photo: #7 – Wexler House – 119 Elizabeth Way, South Bethany  “The Sand Flee,” Sandy and David Wexler’s personalized vacation home, combines a spacious, light and airy living, dining and kitchen area inside with an expansive back yard deck, pool, hot tub, shower Coastal Point • File Phot:
7 – Wexler House – 119 Elizabeth Way, South Bethany “The Sand Flee,” Sandy and David Wexler’s personalized vacation home, combines a spacious, light and airy living, dining and kitchen area inside with an expansive back yard deck, pool, hot tub, shower house and storage building outside. A place to get away with family and friends, the main floor interior has warm horizontal pine planking and crisp khaki colored walls with bright red and white accents. One bedroom has an entire wall painted to look like a stylized American flag, while the other bedrooms are done in burnt orange, chartreuse green and cornflower blue.



Coastal Point • File Photo: #8 – Tietz House – 7 South Atlantic Avenue, Bethany Beach  Dating from the 1920’s, Marylou and Gil Tietz’s yellow cottage is one of the few remaining classic Bethany summer cottages.  The house, located a block from the boardwalk and Garfield Parkway, has grown and taken on the character of the family, whose friends and relatives often leave comments and messages of appreciation scrawled on the white upstairs hall wall.  This charming relic, which inspires nostalgia for years past at the beach, is a must-see before it is replaced next year by a more modern reincarnation.C#8 – Tietz House – 7 South Atlantic Avenue, Bethany Beach Dating from the 1920’s, Marylou and Gil Tietz’s yellow cottage is one of the few remaining classic Bethany summer cottages. The house, located a block from the boardwalk and Garfield Parkway, has grown and taken on the character of the family, whose friends and relatives often leave comments and messages of appreciation scrawled on the white upstairs hall wall. This charming relic, which inspires nostalgia for years past at the beach, is a must-see before it is replaced next year by a more modern reincarnation.


Coastal Point • File Photo: 9 – Steele House – 67 North Atlantic Avenue, Bethany Beach  The original old Bethany cottage on this site, owned by J. E. Humes, was sold for a peach pie and the cost of moving it.  Jean and Harry Steele, who bought the property in 1988, faithfully replicCoastal Point • File Photo
9 – Steele House – 67 North Atlantic Avenue, Bethany Beach The original old Bethany cottage on this site, owned by J. E. Humes, was sold for a peach pie and the cost of moving it. Jean and Harry Steele, who bought the property in 1988, faithfully replic" title="Coastal Point • File Photo: 9 – Steele House – 67 North Atlantic Avenue, Bethany Beach The original old Bethany cottage on this site, owned by J. E. Humes, was sold for a peach pie and the cost of moving it. Jean and Harry Steele, who bought the property in 1988, faithfully replicated the cottage’s exterior while transforming the interior in 1993. Tradition prevails inside, where the living and dining rooms display antiques, folk art and artworks, as well as a beautiful desk that houses first editions and signed copies of books. In addition to the modern kitchen, there is a memorabilia filled office and, above the garage, a Gentleman’s Room. For Jean, there is a boutique walk in closet, created from a guest bedroom.



Coastal Point • File Photo: #10 – Lelko House – 202 Fourth Street, Bethany Beach  Marti and Tim Lelko envisioned their recently built home, which replaced a beach bungalow purchased in 1997, as a traditional mid-twentieth century Mid-Atlantic cottage.  Incorporating Australian cypreCoastal Point • File Photo
#10 – Lelko House – 202 Fourth Street, Bethany Beach Marti and Tim Lelko envisioned their recently built home, which replaced a beach bungalow purchased in 1997, as a traditional mid-twentieth century Mid-Atlantic cottage. Incorporating Australian cypress flooring, beadboard cabinetry, wood wainscoting, porcelain doorknobs and specialty lighting fixtures, the new home is decorated in shades of blue and white, with yellow accents. Of special interest are the fireplace tiles and the plate collection. Lucky visitors can retreat to the attached “Back House” guest quarters with its twisting stairway, a cathedral ceilinged bedroom with a private bath, and a summer kitchen – one without a stove.