Wrecking crews finished hauling away the remnants of the DuBois estate on Battersea Road on Tuesday.
All that remains are memories for owner Don DuBois, an acre of land in the heart of the exclusive Gardens section of Ocean City and six for-sale signs.
The parcel that housed the estate—uncommonly large for an island crammed with $12.9 billion worth of real estate—is being marketed as six separate lots, each listing for $450,000, by Cheryl Huber of Prudential Fox & Roach.
For DuBois, 67, the demolition marks the end of an era that started when his grandparents, Josiah and Amelia DuBois, built the estate in 1924.
DuBois said his grandfather owned three lumber yards (including one that became Ocean City's Shoemaker Lumber) and a small ice-cream store on Battersea Road. Josiah DuBois lived in Woodbury and summered at the Ocean City estate with his wife and nine children.
The summer home had long hallways, two staircases, eight bedrooms, four bathrooms and servants' quarters above a garage.
DuBois said his grandmother helped design the house, and his grandfather built it. He also said his grandfather lost everything, including the house, during the Depression. The bank took possession for two years.
Josiah DuBois and his two brothers bought the house back on a handshake. They agreed to pay the bank $500 per year until a $17,000 note was satisfied. The brothers paid off the note in less than two years, and Josiah ultimately bought out his two brothers, Don DuBois said.
He said his side of the family has owned the property since 1972.
"There were great times, great parties, plenty of room for your friends," DuBois said. "I stayed there year-round for a number of years."
A retired auto repair shop owner, DuBois now lives in the Seaville section of Upper Township. His father and mother, Herbert and Elizabeth, were the most recent residents of the estate. Herbert died in 2007 and Elizabeth in 2010.
That left Don and his sister paying about $20,000 per year in property taxes and the expenses of maintaining the house. His sister died in March.
"It became prohibitive," DuBois said.
The property has been for sale for almost three years, but with a list price of about $2.7 million and a house in need of substantial renovation, there was no interest in purchasing the property as a whole, DuBois said.
He said the property's former agent, French Real Estate, approached the state Green Acres program in an effort to preserve the lot as open space.
"But the administration at the time (Mayor Sal Perillo's) wanted no part of it," DuBois said.
The property owner received approval for a six-lot subdivision last year.
Even still, DuBois said he held out hope that a buyer for the entire property would come along.
"We kept everything open until the last minute," DuBois said. "We waited literally until the last possible moment to find a buyer. And we couldn't find any interest.
"It's a shame, because if I had my druthers, I would have rather have kept the house. To tear the house down on my watch is not a happy moment for me. I'm extremely sad to see it go."
DuBois said he's been told by neighbors that they enjoyed playing football in the yard or riding sleds down the terraces on the lawn.
"Everybody had fond memories of the house," DuBois said.
Cheryl Huber said there's still a possibility that a single buyer could purchase all six lots (which together would equal the former sale price for the estate as a whole). Each of the lots for sale at 647 Battersea Rd. is approximately 42-by-100 feet.