Cape Gazette
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Schooner Inn remodeling in experienced hands

New look for old Lewes building removes blight
By Henry J. Evans Jr. | Jul 29, 2013
Photo by: Henry J. Evans Jr. The Schooner Inn in Lewes is getting a brick front as part of the building’s full renovation. Partners Christine Becker and James and Rachel O’Hare own the building. Rebecca Fluharty is project designer/manager. Henlopen Masonry & Concrete workers, shown, are cutting bricks, slapping mortar and laying bricks in July temperatures above 90 degrees. The project is expected to be complete in early fall.

Lewes — The Schooner Inn, once a dreary building on Savannah Road opposite Lewes’ quaint downtown Second Street, is getting a long-overdue new look. Christine Becker and James O’Hare and wife Rachel purchased the building in late 2011, O'Hare said.

“It was really an eyesore in a highly visible downtown spot. Turning the rundown apartments into high-end residential apartments is going to provide a better service,” he said.

O’Hare said the building, constructed in the 1940s or ‘50s, contained 14 apartments. He hired Rebecca Fluharty, owner of Lewes-based Fine Line Design, to design the building and serve as project manager.

“We’ve totally gutted it, and we’re installing all new plumbing and electrical service. It will have seven one-bedroom apartments, two two-bedroom apartments and the first floor will have two retail spaces,” Fluharty said. Cake Break, a gourmet dessert company based in Rehoboth Beach, has leased one retail space, O’Hare said.

Fluharty said parking for residents will be behind the building.

She said the Lewes Commercial Architectural Review Committee approved the building’s exterior materials, windows and a plan to bump out the front. A patio will be built on top of the flat roof bump out, Fluharty said.

O’Hare said the rooftop patio would be shared by residents and would provide views of Second Street, the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and Delaware Bay. Fluharty estimated the project could be complete in early fall.

The Schooner Inn isn’t the first Becker, O’Hare and Fluharty project in the First Town in the First State. O’Hare said Annapolis, Fell’s Point and Lewes have historic waterfronts with buildings that have tremendous potential, and he enjoys making those buildings useful again.

Becker and the O’Hares purchased the Walsh Building on Second Street in 2005, which contained the first Rose & Crown restaurant and bar.

Becker expanded and renovated the restaurant, and renamed it Jerry’s Seafood, the same name as the restaurant she owns in Lanham and Bowie, Md.

In 2006, Becker and the O’Hares grabbed an opportunity to buy the Hotel Rodney at Second and Market streets. Built in 1926, the hotel still had charm but it had become lackluster and didn’t offer amenities today’s hotel guests want.

Fluharty and then-partner Christine Thomas freshened the hotel’s appearance, mixing its 1920s style with contemporary design.

Following nine months of remodeling the hotel’s five suites and 18 rooms, it reopened in April 2007.

“We changed it from a bed and breakfast concept into a boutique hotel,” O’Hare said.

Again using Fluharty’s design skills, Becker and the O’Hares partnered with Jay Caputo, executive chef of Espuma and Cabo in Rehoboth Beach, to open the latest version of the Rose & Crown inside the Hotel Rodney in spring 2012.

The old Schooner Inn had become a visual blight in a prominent downtown Lewes location. The building once contained 14 apartments. The new owners are converting the building to contain nine high-end apartments, two retail shops, and a rooftop patio for residents. (Photo by: Henry J. Evans Jr.)
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