Russell’s wife, Emily, grew up sunning herself and playing paddleball on the wide, flat beaches of South Carolina (“They go out so far,” she says), which she visited with her North Carolina family. She and Russell, both 34, agree that this is the kind of summer they want to re-create for their children: 2-year-old Palmer, and her little brother or sister, due to make an appearance in September. The Chevy Chase couple weren’t yet shopping for a beach house in 2009, “but when this house came on the market,” Emily says, “Russell thought we would be mad to pass it up.”
The house is special in a couple of ways. Well, three, actually. First, Emily says, “Our friends say it’s the closest you can get to camping and still be indoors.” Second, it’s not far from the Dewey house Russell’s parents bought in 1977 for $50,000 and still occupy, though the younger Canards paid roughly 10 times more. (And it’s only a couple of streets from one of Russell’s sisters and her family.)
Finally, and paradoxically, it’s also special because it’s not unique: It’s one of dozens of houses built by Wilmington-based DFD Inc. in Rehoboth, Bethany and Dewey during the 1960s and ’70s. Says Thomas Fooks, the F in DFD and still in the development business at 84, “We bought the land starting in 1958.” But, he adds with a chuckle, the houses “didn’t go like hot cakes then.”
These were simple all-cedar modular homes. Russell Canard says: “Walk along West Street [in Rehoboth by the Sea] and you’ll see all four models the builder offered. There was the Crow’s Nest and the Beach House ...” Rehoboth real estate agent Bryce Lingo jumps in: “... the Atrium and the Courtyard.”
The Canard house is a Beach House, essentially a raised platform with two pavilions facing each other across a skinny breezeway. One pavilion runs the length of the platform; the facing one is about half that length, leaving a large corner of open decking that proved perfect for the screened-in front porch the Canards now have. The roofs tilt upward in A-frame fashion, coming to a point high above the breezeway.
The layout is quite practical: Living room, kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom are in the main structure; across the breezeway, the other pavilion contains two small bedrooms with access to a second bath. When the Canards first bought the house, “it was a revolving door,” Emily recalls. There might be seven people sleeping in the place, a couple of them on the living room sofas. Happily, their friends all started having children about the same time Emily and Russell did. Now, the the house works well for the Canards and one other couple. “The other couple can take the ‘salmon room,’ ” Emily says, “and put the baby next door.”