The Addy Sea, 'Out of the Mist'
A moment in time at an old Bethany Beach home, now a bed & breakfast, is captured on a foggy day
'Out of the Mist'
by Ellen Rice
When I look at an old building like this, I always think about what it must have been like when it was first built. What were the people like? What were they thinking?
With The Addy Sea, most likely it was a very cheerful time when the family celebrated its completion. I can imagine the laughter, the excitement. The Addy Sea would have smelled “new,” just as fresh as the hopes and dreams that built her.
She was built by John M. Addy, one of Bethany Beach, Delaware’s original settlers, in 1902. He built it for his family with all the day’s modern conveniences. The stately oceanfront showplace offered such modern amenities as bathrooms, indoor plumbing and carbide lamps, all of which were shipped by railroad from Pittsburgh, where Mr. Addy was a prominent plumbing supplier, to Rehoboth Beach and then barged to Bethany Beach by the old inland canal system.
After the storm of 1927, the house was moved back from the sea and the old foundations were left on the beach. The foundation later became a gathering place for marshmallow and hot dog fireside roastings.
The family began renting their home to church groups during the Depression years. In the 1970s, the children and grandchildren eventually sold The Addy Sea to the Gravattes, who have been warmly welcoming guests for more than 25 years.
(Above right, Bethany Breakers, companion to Out of the Mist, a few blocks from The Addy Sea only a half-hour earlier, when the fog started rolling in.)
For many years, people have been asking me to paint this lovely building, but because so many artists had already painted her, I declined — until a walk early last spring.
One late afternoon this spring, I came upon the Addy Sea in a magical sort of way, rising up out of a seaborne fog. The afternoon sun lit the top of the old building through the mist just enough that it was discernible. Other buildings around the Addy were not. For a moment, I felt as though I had stepped back in time and was seeing the Addy Sea much as she must have looked a century ago.
Just past the Addy, I could barely discern the silhouette of one lone gentleman slowly disappearing into the mist. Is he a guest at the Addy Sea? A runner who slowed to take in the solitude of the barren beach and the nearly invisible sea? A husband or lover waiting for someone? A soldier returned from the war? In a twinkle he was gone. But the whole scene froze in my mind. I snapped a few photos that didn’t quite do it all justice, but gave me what I needed to create “Out of the Mist.”
I really love the feeling of this work. To read a little more about this day, click on Bethany Breakers and enjoy.
Above, companion painting Bethany Breakers.