The Inn from “Nights in Rodanthe:” Rescued and Renovated

by hookedonhouses on July 25, 2011

Nights in Rodanthe Serendipity Inn

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.


P.S. Visit Houses Onscreen to see more, including…

Something's Gotta Give beach houseThe Beach House from Something’s Gotta Give

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Karena July 25, 2011 at 8:02 am

Julia I adore this movie!! Thank goodness for people like this to rescue a special, unique property!


Art by Karena

Exciting New Giveaway from Dr Perricone! Come and Enter!

Luciane at July 25, 2011 at 8:06 am


This was such an amazing movie and I cried and I cried!!! :-)

Amazing property, amazing post! Thank you so much for this!


Luciane at

Erin July 25, 2011 at 8:11 am

So impressed they took on that project. Love happy endings. sigh…

Julie July 25, 2011 at 8:28 am

I would LOVE to see the Lifeguard station and cottage that were used from Popham beach in Maine for the filming of “Message in a Bottle”

What a wonderful project Ben and Debra did.

kelly in georgia July 25, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I would too! We tried to find it when we were in Popham Beach several years ago. From what I understand, the movie folks left the house renovated for the owners. There was a wonderful article about it featured in Coastal Living the year the movie was released.
I would also love to see the precious cabin used in the Hepburn and Fonda film “On Golden Pond.” I have not seen it featured anywhere.

Teacup Lane July 25, 2011 at 8:54 am

Wow…this is so neat! I love to see homes being cared for and cherished.

LeAnn July 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

Hi Julia,

We went on vacation this summer to the Outer Banks and rode our motorcycle to the town of Rodanthe just so I could take a peek at the Inn. I got some great pictures of it.

I love that movie.


ashley @ the handmade home July 25, 2011 at 9:19 am

CRAZY! wow. I didn’t really know you COULD move a house that big! love this. as usual…

Kelly D July 25, 2011 at 9:24 am

That is so awesome that they went to the expense of making some of the interior rooms to match the movie! I love it!

Erin July 25, 2011 at 10:12 am

I remember your other posts about this and am SO happy you updated us with this one! What a happy ending! It’s fantastic how much detail went into their renovation. How cool they found the same wallpaper for the kitchen! Thanks you so much for sharing!!

Amy July 25, 2011 at 10:17 am

This place deserved to be saved! I’m so happy to read this. Thanks for the post!

Teresa July 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

Just got back from rodanthe yesterday, we used to sit next to that house before the movie. We drove by where it was moved to and it does look nice. However we talked to a local resident and were told the number of people who stop by to see it and take pictures is crazy.

Kim July 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm

How great that they renovated this house. I like how they made it look like the one from the movie.

karen ho fatt July 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Amazing that they can put a house so close to the water. Too close for comfort for me!

Lisa T. July 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm

The water came to them, not the other way round.

Jocelyn July 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I remember when you wrote about the building being moved. I even watched some of the actually moving on the internet link. Glad to see how nicely it has been preserved.

Pam July 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I loved th movie as well. I just love the Outer Banks and cant wait to go back and check up on this place. Why would the movie crew remove all of that great decking they built? If I were the previous owners i would have wanted to keep the shutters and the decking. I love your blog spot. My twin 19 year olds love it as well. I told them about it and now they check on it daily. Thank you for sharing!

Bre July 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Wow! How cool is this?! I have countless homes in movies, thanks to your well curated site, that I would love to replicate for my own house. These homeowners took it to a whole other level! I love that they rescued that beautiful beach home. The renovations are spectacular, I love the wraparound porch and the new kitchen. Such a great post Julia! :)

Beth @ Free Stylin' July 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Wow! What a labor of love! The new owners did a fabulous job!! It looks SO much like the movie!! When I was reading the beginning of the post, and especially looking at the picture after that big storm, I was so sad for this Inn! I’d forgotten that your title said, “rescued and renovated.” SO glad they did! Thanks for the info – I really loved the movie and book!!

Paula July 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I’ve always wondered what happened to this house after that big storm. I’m glad to hear that the house was moved and saved.

Jenn July 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Oh my….I “heart” this house! I “heart heart heart” this house!!! I’ve loved it since I first saw the movie! Many kudos to Debra and Ben for putting such thought and effort into restoring such a beautiful home.

Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady July 25, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Wow, I don’t necessarily like the house (anyone else thinks it’s a bit creepy too?), but I love how much effort they put in to rescue it 😀

Lisa T. July 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Yeah, the interiors are not doing anything for me. But I’m confidant they will get better. With time and money.

Tsumicat July 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Amazing. To go to all that trouble instead of building a new place. Well done.

E. George July 26, 2011 at 6:28 am

Hi Julia – Thank you Ben and Debra two very brave people who rescued this beautiful place, and thank you for sharing with us. I love this movie and love everything about this place. Now don’t laugh at me I watched Nims Island on the new TV and realised the house where Jodi Foster is living in looks absolutely beautiful and wonder if your daughter has made you watch this movie. Till next time regards Esther from Sydney.

Nita{ModVintageLife} July 26, 2011 at 9:15 am

How fantastic!

Maryann July 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I also really loved the movie. Last fall I visited the Outer Banks for the first time and we located the house by asking the owner of a store nearby. What a neat part of North Carolina to visit. I hope to return.

Elvira July 27, 2011 at 7:09 am

Isn’t it wonderful that there are people who have the will and the means to preserve buildings worth it? Great article, Julia.

Hear, hear for Julie and kelly from georgia’s request for an article on the cottages in the “Message in the Bottle” and “On Golden Pond”, two fantastic movie houses.

Sara July 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm

What lovely house – and kudos to the couple rescuing it! Would that there were more like them. Julia, I’ve just watched ‘Panic Room’ again, as much for the gorgeous NYC house and atmospheric sets as for Jodie Foster and Kristin Stewart. Any chance of this being a ‘Movie Monday’ hit anytime soon? Thanks as always for your wonderful site.

hookedonhouses July 27, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Not soon–got a long list I’m working my way through–but someday! :)

TheDecorGirl July 28, 2011 at 10:54 am

Great story! Isn’t it amazing what a little color can do. The blue shutters create a smile, they stop your eye so one can look and really appreciate what a cool place this is. In plain gray, it was a passable yawn. Congrats to the new owners for their hard work!

Jane Coslick July 29, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Thanks for this post. I love that movie and I have worried about that house. I heard it was destroyed . I live on Tybee Island and hate the hurricane season so very much.
I love love love that they restore it like the movie…… heade to their site.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman July 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I haven’t watched this movie yet; need to wait for when hubby isn’t around, he doesn’t love chick movies, lol. I remember when you did that original post. I’m so glad to see someone saved it, what a job!!!

Sue September 24, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Does anyone know what the wallpaper is that’s in the kitchen of the movie?? It’s amazing!!

Kevin O December 13, 2011 at 1:23 am

We flew over the house in our Cessna while headed to Hatteras from Manteo a few years ago. My wife couldn’t believe it really was IN Rodanthe!

Susan December 29, 2011 at 10:30 am

I don’t live far from Rodanthe, and it was a big deal when it was close to being condemned and then saved. Good thing they moved it–Hurricane Irene washed most of the beach away where the house used to sit, and I believe the house that was next to the old spot actually washed into the ocean. (The storm washed away Hwy 12 on most of the island, and washed two new inlets that kept the locals stranded for a month.)

I hadn’t seen the makeover pics–thanks!!

NJ Cellulose Insulation Contractor January 5, 2012 at 11:38 am

I am so glad that home was rescued. It truly is beautiful.

Bob Englert February 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Hi Julie,
I really love this movie and I’m interested in the new location and details as how to stay there. Is there a way for you to give me information about a stay at the inn? Thank you for your time and efforts. Thank you also for what you do. Keep up the good work.

In God’s loving service,

hookedonhouses February 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm
Bob Englert February 15, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Thank you so much for your expedient response……

Pascale Steig February 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I’m glad this house was saved… but why that slate grey paint all over the outside?! It was lovely before; it looks strange now, especially with the electric blue awnings. Sad to say, the interior decor also leaves a lot to be desired. The shape of the house is so interesting that it pretty much dictates an quirky decorating scheme, as opposed to the uninspired 80s furniture in the shared living spaces. Nevertheless, these comments are balanced with gratitude for the new owners’ efforts to save a remarkable structure.

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