Serendipity, the romantic inn with blue shutters that had a starring role in the Richard Gere-Diane Lane tear-jerker Nights in Rodanthe, used to sit on the edge of the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. But then it started to wash away.
After I featured the beach house a couple of years ago, several local residents wrote to tell me what a bad state it was in. It was on a “death watch.” One reader said that after every bad storm, everyone wanted to know whether Serendipity had survived it.
Here’s how the Inn at Rodanthe, as it was called in the movie, looked onscreen:
The shutters and wraparound decks were added for the movie and removed afterward. Here’s how the house looked without them, after filming ended:
Not only was it looking kind of naked after the film crew left, but it was declared a public nuisance and condemned. One local wrote to tell me that vandals had been breaking into it and stealing things.
This photo was taken after a bad storm (source) when the water came up so far that the road buckled:
It was built in the ’80s with piling driven down 14 feet and set in concrete. At the time, there was 400 feet of beach in front of the house.
The owners told the Island Free Press that they had “everything tied up in this house,” and didn’t know what to do next. They had tried to sell it for a couple of years but no one was willing to take it on.
Then, last year, I got an email from Ben and Debra Huss, who described themselves as “extreme fans” of the movie, telling me they had decided to buy Serendipity and move it to safety. Not only that, but they wanted to “restore it to the original splendor of the movie.”
They did just that. It has been moved, renovated, and reopened for business (on higher ground!). Some of you have written me, asking for an update on the inn. Here’s how the exterior looks now, on its new lot:
Much better, right? They have also given some of the rooms a makeover to look more like they did in the movie (the interiors were filmed on a separate soundstage). For example, here’s how the kitchen looked before:
And now, with blue cabinets:
They even replicated the swinging doors from the movie:
Here’s how the kitchen set looked when Diane Lane and Richard Gere were in it:
The new owners tracked down the same wallpaper used in the movie kitchen:
Another room that was replicated was Richard Gere’s blue bedroom. Here’s how it looked in the movie:
And in the actual inn today:
I also noticed that they included an antique organ like there was in the movie. You can see a little of it to the right of this screenshot:
In Serendipity today:
My hat’s off to Ben and Debra for taking on the monumental task of buying, moving, and redecorating this inn. You can see all of the photos on the website along with rental rates and info. (Sorry, the listing has since been removed.)
To see more information about the movie itself and photos of the sets, check out my original post: Nights in Rodanthe: A Romantic Inn on the Beach.