The Inn from “Nights in Rodanthe:” Washing Away?

by hookedonhouses on December 17, 2009


Remember the inn with the blue shutters from the Richard Gere-Diane Lane movie Nights in Rodanthe? In real life, it’s known as “Serendipity,” a house that sits on the edge of the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. According to an article published when the movie premiered:

The house was dolled up and temporarily renamed The Inn at Rodanthe; all the movie’s interior shots were done in Wilmington, N.C. Shutters were painted blue and decks and a gazebo were added.

Here’s how the house looked after filming ended and all of the shutters and decks, etc., were removed (looks kind of naked, doesn’t it?):

The real house used in Nights in Rodanthe

The house was built in 1988 with piling driven down 14 feet and set in concrete.  At the time, there was 400 feet of beach in front of the house. Now the beach front is gone, and the ocean is slowly washing the house away.

The Island Free Press published this photo and more details about the state of the house in November:

Serendipity-photo by Don BowersThe county is in the process of declaring Serendipity a public nuisance, which means that the owners will have to either move the house or have it torn down (source).

shot of the inn

The owners purchased the house in 2003 just before Hurricane Isabel. The house was a rental property but has been condemned several times over the past two years.


I have received numerous e-mails and comments from local residents who are concerned about the house. One told me that after every storm, everyone wants to know whether Serendipity is still standing.


A reader named Curt sent me the following message:

Not only is Serendipity condemned for a failed sewage system, but also the next 6-7 houses just down from it in a row. It’s inevitible that it will be lost to nature. This is the most encroached upon area in the Outer Banks and is a great concern for the residents of Rodanthe today.

The current owners have been trying to sell it for $499,900, but apparently there haven’t been any takers. The listing shows us that the real house looks nothing like the movie version. Here’s the movie kitchen:


And the actual kitchen:

Serenity-real house kitchen

The movie’s version of the dining/living area:


And the actual living area:

Serenity-real house liv rm

Lisa, the reader who sent me the photo of the real Serendipity at the top of the post, tells me that people have actually been breaking into the house and stealing things because they want a “souvenir” from the movie.

In November, high water caused Highway 12, the road that runs past Serendipity, to buckle, and sections of it had to be closed (source):

road beat up after storm

It’s a sad situation. I feel sorry for the homeowners, who told the Island Free Press that they have “everything tied up in this house,” and don’t know what to do next.

1/10 UPDATE: Serendipity has been rescued! Ben and Debra Huss bought the house and are in the process of moving it. They want to restore the house to its former glory for fans of the movie and rent it out. Huss says, “We just had to save it,” adding that his wife agreed, telling him, “You’ve always been a dreamer.” They sent me an e-mail about their plans that you can see here.

For more photos from the movie: Nights in Rodanthe.

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melissa @ the inspired room December 17, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Oh no! How sad! Now I’ll have to go watch the movie!

Merry Christmas!! Hope it is wonderful!
.-= melissa @ the inspired room´s last blog ..Inspired, Wonderful & Most Fabulous Christmas Homes =-.

Nathan December 18, 2009 at 1:49 am

That’s so sad. :(

linda@LimeintheCoconut December 18, 2009 at 7:13 am

How tragic. Like a ghost standing knee high in the water…
I certainly cannot imagine anyone buying it. I feel bad for the owners…

Quite different looking. Inside Vs. Outside.
.-= linda@LimeintheCoconut´s last blog ..Ok….Does it count as Christmas… =-.

duchess December 18, 2009 at 7:41 am

What a sad story but I’m from NC and it’s well known that our coastline changes with every storm. It’s truely beautiful to have oceanfront property but with that comes huge risk. I hate that the owners have to go through this – here’s an idea….maybe the federal government will give them a buyout for it. Stranger things have happened.
Thanks for the update on that beautiful property.
.-= duchess´s last blog ..The way it used to be. =-.

Eileen December 18, 2009 at 8:01 am

Such a sad situation.
I wish something could be done (for the homeowners and for salvaging the house). Thanks for the information.
All the best,
.-= Eileen´s last blog ..Tablescape Thursday ~ St. Lucia Day =-.

Monique December 18, 2009 at 8:06 am

Smoke and mirrors..I loved the house when I saw the movie:(

Now all I feel is so sad for the owners..How deceptive movies are..Thanks..I really like peeking into your blog~
.-= Monique´s last blog ..Happy Birthday Jain ! =-.

Sharon December 18, 2009 at 8:25 am

I had heard in the fall that the house had washed away, yet some of the reports I read said it was still there so I wasn’t sure.

The owners should have stopped paying the mortgage payments a long time ago. It’s obvious, though sad, where this house will end up, along with several others along the stretch.

I never did see the movie but the interior set shots are beautiful. As I always say, you can’t judge the inside of a house by the outside. More often then not the inside doesn’t measure up.

Great post.

hookedonhouses December 18, 2009 at 8:34 am

I haven’t been able to verify how the house is doing as of right now. If anyone lives in the area, please let us know. The latest articles I could find online were from early December. -Julia

geri August 14, 2010 at 3:13 pm

They moved the house about 1/2 m. away and fixing it up to rent on a weekly basis. they are fixing it up just like the one in the movie. On vacation I found it and went up the stairs. The worker stopped me and said it was not open to the public yet. It prouble is by now. You should go by and see it. I went to the pier and the workers there is very open and will tell you everything that went on. The lady that “died” on the table in the operating room works at the lifesaving station and she will tell you “everything”. I love this house and I feel the house is really the star of the movie.

pk @ Room Remix December 18, 2009 at 8:31 am

I remember when you first wrote about this and I’m still amazed at how much different the house is from how the movie portrayed it. It really is a tough situation for the owners. I feel bad for them! Hope you have a good weekend…
.-= pk @ Room Remix´s last blog ..GIVEAWAY! – $80 Shopping Spree =-.

Amanda @ Serenity Now December 18, 2009 at 8:35 am

I can’t imagine anyone buying that with the possibility of the house not being there when the closing papers are signed. Yikes! It looks like it’s been decorated like a lot of the beach rentals down there….
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..You Know You Have a Problem… =-.

Stephanie@CrystalAllure December 18, 2009 at 8:37 am

Wow! What a fascinating story, thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen that movie yet but had heard of it. And I definately wouldn’t have thought the inside shots of the movie were taped somewhere else.

Stephanie December 18, 2009 at 8:56 am

So sad…thank for sharing this fascinating story…i read the book, but haven’t seen the movie.
.-= Stephanie´s last blog ..canvas gifts are shipping out … I gotta get some sleep =-.

Courtney @ Nesting Instincts December 18, 2009 at 9:25 am

oh…very sad…it does look like its fate is inevitable though. I’m thinking that in House vs. Ocean…there will be a clear winner. (In fact, almost anything vs. ocean – the water tends to win!)
.-= Courtney @ Nesting Instincts´s last blog ..more is more…and a merry Christmas :-) =-.

heidi @ wonder woman wannabe December 18, 2009 at 9:30 am

oh, that IS sad! I really admired that house when I saw the movie!
.-= heidi @ wonder woman wannabe´s last blog ..Re-Ignite Date Night {#18} =-.

Kristin@Bouelvard Interior Design December 18, 2009 at 9:35 am

I feel bad for the owners. That house has always creeped me out though. Maybe it is supposed too. The Blue shutters just really bothered me. I have to be honest, it made me not want to see the movie, and I didn’t, even after you did the last post. How bahh humbug of me.

Pat December 18, 2009 at 9:45 am

Sniffle. What a loss. I love this area of the country, but it’s not for sissys. I feel so bad for the owners, a dream washed away.
I have to admit, this house didn’t do much for me, it was more the setting..and maybe a little Richard Gere!
.-= Pat´s last blog ..FRIDAY FAVorite =-.

Lou Cinda December 18, 2009 at 10:29 am

This is so sad! I loved this movie and ADORED the house! This breaks my heart!

Lou Cinda
.-= Lou Cinda´s last blog ..~Christmas Tour of Homes ~ =-.

Bellen December 18, 2009 at 11:09 am

It’s very sad for the homeowners, but, if they didn’t understand the consequences of living on the ocean’s edge, they had no business buying the house. I know that’s kind of harsh but I live in Florida about 2 1/2 miles from the Gulf coast and have seen what a hurricane can do. Also grew up in CT near the coast and remember what hurricanes did to the coast back in the late 50′s.

If it were possible, and I had the money, I’d move the house to somewhere safe, if there is such a place. At the least, I’d be removing woodwork, cabinets and countertops, anything salvageable to use in a new house.

The weather forcast for the upcoming week, a major nor’easter, doesn’t bode well for this house. It is always sad and at the same time awe inspiring to see what natural disasters can do.

Wendy December 18, 2009 at 11:43 am

Oh, how horrifying! I was one of the people that wrote to you back in August as I had just returned from a beach rental in Waves, NC (not even a mile south of Serendipity). Seeing the condition of that road, and knowing that there was a HUGE sand dune on the left right at the vantage point of that road photo… wow.

And the poor owners of that house. Three years ago when they first purchased it I am sure that there was a decent amount of beach in front of them. If you’re not aware of how drastic the coastline can change it can really devastate you. Just seeing how much it has changed since August is a shock, and I do have a place on a Florida beach. Luckily we have a wall down there. This beach has nothing. Sad.

Cottage Dreamers December 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm

What a mess to be in! So sad too.
.-= Cottage Dreamers´s last blog ..14 daze =-.

Sarah Jones December 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm

that’s sad the house is falling into the ocean, and also sad to see the actual disappointing interior!
.-= Sarah Jones´s last blog ..alys beach =-.

Jess December 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm

I totally agree with Bellen.

I lived in Wilmington, NC for some time and on Wrightsville Beach, they had a saying — “Build 4 rows back and in 3 years you’ll have your turn!”

It may be a dream home, but for people naive enough or stubborn enough to build a house on a barrier island in the Southeast, it is a short-lived dream at best. All too often people underestimate the power of Mother Nature and the consequences of building on a barrier island — these islands have ebbed and flowed and shifted for a millennia of storms prior to our arrival, yet somehow developers and owners believe that these natural processes will cease when their structure is erected. We (humans) then attempt to mitigate the island’s movement, which leads to a whole mess of additional consequences.

It’s one thing to build a beach house with the understanding that it will likely be a temporary lot… It’s quite another to build on a constantly shifting sandbar and then throw ones hands up in horror when the sandbar, well, shifts.

While I deeply empathize with the homeowners regret, for their sake I wish they had built with their heads as much as they built with their hearts.

Kim December 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Sorry to hear about the house. This is the reason why I won’t live on a beach. May this be a lesson to people to not build homes so close to the water.

Nancy Hood December 18, 2009 at 8:59 pm

So sad :( loved the movie!! and prefer their interior shots over reality :) thanks for the post and hope a peaceful solution takes place for all concerned!
.-= Nancy Hood´s last blog ..Happy Birthday, Ian! =-.

anna see December 18, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Met the owner of the house 2 summers ago. He told me about break-ins by surfers, but it was the summer before the movie came out (in Oct) so he was yet to experience movie-related thefts. I hate to see someone’s $ just washed away. Thanks for the update!
.-= anna see´s last blog ..Quick Question of the Day =-.

rue December 18, 2009 at 9:38 pm

I grew up in CA as you know Julia and everyone knows that an earthquake could hit any minute. People that live in the midwest know that their house could be taken out by a tornado anytime. People that live on the east coast as well as the gulf coast know what it’s like to live through a hurricane. My point is that no matter where you live there is a tremendous chance that you could be building a house only to have it taken away anytime by mother nature. The people that left comments saying “they should have known better”, need to understand that no one is completely safe. I feel badly for those homeowners. They lost a beautiful dream, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to the naysayers.

.-= rue´s last blog ..If you were my neighbor…. =-.

Renae Moore December 18, 2009 at 10:08 pm

That truly is a shame. I loved that movie…..the set is definitely better than the insides of the home. I feel for the owners….very sad.
Merry Christmas Julia!
.-= Renae Moore´s last blog ..Entryway Perfection =-.

Joshua Cook December 18, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Never saw this movie and am shocked that it takes place in the OBX. We Vacation there every summer with 20ish cook family members. Beautiful location- much more touristy now than 12 years ago when we first started going. This has inspired me to post about our previous OBX rentals. Watch for a new blog post featuring
our rented oceanfront homes! :)
.-= Joshua Cook´s last blog ..Miles Design Holiday Card(s) =-.

E. George December 19, 2009 at 12:19 am

Hi Julia you know I love this movie I watched it many times so as not to miss out on the set decor but the real thing not so romantic. I feel for the owners. Here our oceans have been creeping up a little but our main problem is bush fires .. Julia I must tell you about this book my daughter gave me 2 christmases ago its a good decorating book called Home creative interiors for everyday living…Murdoch Books…. the other thing is all the girls that sent their home photos at Christmas were just beautiful many thanks for the invite into your homes… Greetings and Best Wishes for this very special time for the year.. Regards Esther from Sydney….

Rita December 19, 2009 at 12:23 am

An unfortunate situation for everyone. It had that ‘I want to live there’ quality in the movie, so it’s sad to hear the reality of the house.
.-= Rita´s last blog ..Christmas Bells =-.

Annie@A View on Design December 19, 2009 at 8:36 am

my goodness, this is not good news, I hope something works out for the owners, maybe someone could bankroll it’s restoration with a part ownership deal?? good luck to them
.-= Annie@A View on Design´s last blog ..An Unparalleled Hawthorn Record Sale $25M =-.

Tammy@InStitches December 19, 2009 at 10:12 am

I just read the book and have not seen the movie just. I’m from NC so I know how the beaches are here. It’s so sad that they are losing their house !
.-= Tammy@InStitches´s last blog ..Installation of the Week =-.

Michelle December 19, 2009 at 11:55 am

I feel so sad for those homeowners, it can’t be easy to deal with this situation that is out of their control. It truly is a dream for some to live on the water like that and it stinks that mother nature can have a different plan. I hope they find a good solution.
.-= Michelle´s last blog ..The Kitchen =-.

Dina Marie December 20, 2009 at 1:15 am

Yes, I had seen this movie. Loved that movie! I was fascinated in that house since it was located right at the beach. I wondered if it had good sturdy foundation. I was also fascinated with that house’s interior design.

After reading your blog, I learned that it has totally different interior design and outside appearance of that house. Interesting. That would be great if they could have that house to be moved to another location. I hope other readers will keep you posted if that house still stands and/or demolished somehow.
.-= Dina Marie´s last blog ..My Plan for Christmas and a Touching Video =-.

Aprons Gone Wild December 20, 2009 at 3:33 pm

I really, really enjoy your blog. House lover that I am, it’s so interesting to get inside some of the homes you feature. Thank you for a most interesting read, each and every time.
.-= Aprons Gone Wild´s last blog ..Turquoise Talent Apron from Aprons Gone Wild =-.

music forever December 21, 2009 at 2:08 am

I was just in Rodanthe in September and saw the house with the water rolling underneath. It is a shame to see something so beautiful just sitting there with no protection from the sea. I hope it can be saved. Just a note about the interior shots you posted from the movie. The interior shots were actually filmed in a house on Topsail Island , NC actually in North Topsail Beach. It is also a rental. I believe it is a duplex. It is amazing to see how they made Serendipty look like the exterior of the house at Topsail. If you research the filming of the movie you should run across pics of this house as well as Serendipty.

anna December 21, 2009 at 10:31 am

Hello. I spent a week on hatteras island for my best friends wedding this past june & our favorite beach spot was beside this beautiful house! It is absolutely amazing to look at. We did peek in the windows & you are right, it looks nothing like the movie.
When we were there the water was just below the lower deck. There are a few pictures on my flickr if you want to see them…
.-= anna´s last blog ..whoville =-.

Catherine December 21, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Hi! I just looked up the house on Island Free Press. According to the article from last Friday Dec 18th it’s being sold and moved.

laney December 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm

…having spent nearly 30 summers on one of the islands of north carolina…i can tell you that the sea will always win…many many homes on the eastern end of our island are long gone…we can now feel the road way under our feet as we look for shells…

Amanda December 22, 2009 at 1:35 am

Great post – I loved this house – had such character. Good to hear someone is going to rescue it and renovate it to its former glory.
.-= Amanda´s last blog ..Only Four More Sleeps! =-.

anita newbery December 22, 2009 at 9:29 am

Was just in Nags Head, and fell in love with the OBX, went to see the Rodanthe home and was sad to see it standing there all alone, with the sea all around it. Looks like a house that had many memories and treasures.. once..I am hoping that the Huss family can bring it back to a home full of love and that they create many memories along the way.
Oh to Believe…

Karen December 22, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I’m just curious why, when the movie ended, the enhancements to the property were removed? Was it the owner’s choice? The producers/studio? Would the owners have been asked to pay for the shutters, etc.?

hookedonhouses December 22, 2009 at 9:47 pm


I read that they only were able to get a permit to make temporary changes to the house, so all of the additions had to be taken back down after filming. Seems like a huge waste of time, effort, and money to me–especially since it looked so much better after the makeover! -Julia

Caroline B. December 23, 2009 at 4:26 pm

This is such sad news, the home owners must be crushed and it was such a beautiful house.
.-= Caroline B.´s last blog ..Merry Christmas =-.

Northerngirl January 16, 2010 at 8:48 pm

I remember seeing this movie, and I love both Richard & Diane… I thought the movie was boring, but I loved the house. So thanks for all the news on the house. I wish those new owners the best, and hope they can restore the home they way they want:)

Hatteras Island January 21, 2010 at 9:12 am

They just moved Serendipity. Here’s the article:
great photo of the house going down the road.

Nikki March 28, 2010 at 11:40 am

Hi, headed up to the Hatteras house next weekend, and got to see the house after the movie was over, beautifull. Could you tell me where the house has been moved? Is there a donation site to help with the restoration? Thanks.

hookedonhouses March 28, 2010 at 6:50 pm

All of the information I have about the house is posted here:

If there’s a donation site, I haven’t heard about it, but that’s a nice idea! -Julia

Asia Evans April 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I am a native Outer Banks resident and many will be happy to learn the house has been rescued and moved just a little ways down the beach. Video of the move can be seen on youtube- search serendipity house move. It happily sits at its new address where I’m sure many visitors will go to see the structural celebrity. As an Interior Designer, I would love to get my hands on that house to restore it.

Peter June 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Was in Rodanthe, yesterday to see Serandipity. House has been moved, and it looks great. Decks have been replaced, and great looking ropes on posts line the driveway. My wife talkedto the gentleman staying there now and was allowed on the property to take pictures of all sides of the house. It was a fasinating experiece!

Elaine June 3, 2011 at 9:16 am

Where can I see pictures of how it looks now? – Thanks!

Juju at Tales of July 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Awesome news!
.-= Juju at Tales of´s last blog ..Contest- Superhero Needed =-.

Serendipity906 September 6, 2011 at 12:36 am

It’s now 2011 and Irene just went through.
So happy to hear the house was moved by the
new owners. Hope it is all restored as beautiful
as before. I love the movie.
Greetings From Upper Michigan

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