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Landmark Dewey lighthouse destroyed in arson will not be rebuilt

The landmark Dewey Beach lighthouse that sat adjacent to Rehoboth Bay for decades until an April 2020 arson destroyed it will not be rebuilt, town officials said.

The fire also burned the Lighthouse Restaurant, which was then under construction, caused $750,000 in damages, and was being investigated as arson, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal John M. Galaska said. 

A month after the fire, former Town Manager Scott Koenig said the lighthouse was deemed structurally unsafe but would be rebuilt as a requirement of a mutual agreement and release signed between the town and Dewey Beach Enterprises.

Current Assistant Town Manager Jim Dedes said April 7 that the town attorney researched the agreement and said rebuilding the lighthouse was not specified as a condition Dewey Beach Enterprises, developer and owner of the Lighthouse Cove property, had to meet.

Mayor Dale Cooke also said the lighthouse was part of the original building plans, but that the structure itself was not part of the MAR.

Bill Lower, spokesperson for Harvey, Hanna & Associates, said the company agreed with town officials that rebuilding the lighthouse is not a condition of the MAR.

“As part of our efforts to rebuild the lighthouse, we considered an array of innovative design options,” Lower said. “Unfortunately, all proved to be cost-prohibitive, and several carried regulatory impediments. We are, however, excited to welcome a new Lighthouse Restaurant, with a projected opening of mid-summer 2021.”

After the fire was classified as arson, Lighthouse Cove Development Company offered and then increased a reward to anyone with information leading to an arrest and conviction of those responsible. On May 6, the reward was set at $10,000; it was doubled to $20,000 May 28, and then raised to $30,000 Jan. 22, 2021.

Anyone with information on the fire is asked to contact the Delaware State Fire Marshal at 302-856-5600, Delaware Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 800-TIP-3333 or Harvey, Hanna & Associates at 302-323-9300, Ext. 112.