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Farewell to Holland Island PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Thursday, 21 October 2010 16:49


How do you write an obituary to a house? Or, to be more accurate, to a community?


The house on Holland Island collapsed this week. The last vestige of one of the once-inhabited islands of the Chesapeake succumbed to time and Mother Nature. For years, it resisted the steady erosion of the island as the Chesapeake’s tides ate away at the land.


Like most of the islands in the Bay, this one was largely a sandbar, just a lot bigger than most. At one time, Holland Island was 5 miles by a mile and a half. About 400 people lived there: watermen, shopkeepers, truck farmers. There were houses, stores, a school, church, and even a baseball field that was home to a championship team. But by the early 1900’s, the island was clearly vanishing. The residents loaded their houses onto boats and floated them to the mainland. The two story house was one left behind.


For years, it stood watch over the shrinking landscape, a forlorn, lonely sentinel of the ghosts and memories of the place. Hurricane Isabel in 2003 stole much of the remaining land and exposed the house’s foundation. After that, at high tide, the house was completely surrounded and seemed to float on the water.


Last weekend’s high winds and rough water were too much for the weathered structure. It began to crumple over the weekend, like a prize fighter who’d gone too many rounds against an implacable opponent. By Tuesday, it had collapsed into itself. What was once a home in a thriving community is now just so much driftwood. A few photographs. And memories.


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