What do you do when your dream house is 25 miles away from your dream property? If you're Tom Platt, you put the house on a flat bed trailer and haul it away.
Platt's three-bedroom Cape Cod style house started out in Ocean City but for the past 30 years it's occupied a 25-acre lot on a former cattle farm in rural Maurice River Township. Platt, who passed away three years ago, moved the house because he wanted to be closer to his hometown, according to his widow, Lillian.
"He spent his entire life right down the road in Leesburg," says Lillian, who grew up just a half hour away in Franklinville, Gloucester County. "This is where he wanted to live. But I loved it too. I loved it right from the beginning."
The Platts' house is located in an area that couldn't be more different from the bustling seaside resort that is Ocean City. It stands off Moore's Beach Road, a narrow lane off Route 47 that turns to dirt before dead-ending at the Delaware Bay. The property includes 10 acres of dry land, a large freshwater pond and 15 acres of wetlands that blend into mudflats that go on for miles.
The nearest town, about half a mile away, is Delmont, a tiny settlement in the far southeastern corner of Cumberland County that was known as Ewing's Neck until 1891. Much of the surrounding land is protected from development and includes the Heislerville Fish and Wildlife Management Area, the Eldora Nature Preserve and the former David Bohm sod farm in Dennis Township, which was purchased as open space by Cape May County.
The vast wetlands provide an ideal environment for shorebirds and waterfowl as well as foxes and deer which drink from the freshwater pond. Bald eagles, great egrets and blue and green herons are frequent visitors.
After moving their house from Ocean City in the early 1980s, the Platts made some changes. Tom put the two-story structure on pilings, creating a lower level that he enclosed and turned into living space. He added four out buildings and an attached two-car garage. He also built a sundeck above the garage, a wraparound deck on the second level, and a private deck off the master bedroom on the third level.
"I love to watch the birds and the deer from the decks," Lillian says. "On clear days you can see the bay shining in the sunlight."
The second level now features a kitchen, living and dining rooms two bedrooms and a full bath. The third level is devoted the master bedroom and bathroom. The cozy, rustic interior features knotty pine walls and hardwood floors.
The lower level has exposed beams and a wood stove that can heat the whole house. But Lillian hasn't fired up the stove since Tom died.
"I've got an electric fireplace in the living room and an electric heater in the dining room," she says. "That's all I need."
Lillian has fond memories of her three decades in the house where she and Tom raised their three children.
"It was a lot of work but I love living here," she says. "We used to grow salt hay which we sold for bedding. In the summer, our kids would invite their friends to stay and there would be as many as 13 mouths to feed."
While she doesn't mind living alone, Lillian has grown tired of maintaining the house and grounds. When she sells the property she plans to move to Central New Jersey and stay with her daughter.
"It's nice up there," she says.
For more information on this property, which is listed for $249,000, call Hal Olson of Olson Real Estate, 609-204-7044.
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