Real Estate

For $11.99 million, you can live like Jonah in the whale

A whale of a house on Bald Head Island is the most expensive home listed for sale in North Carolina by real estate groups.

The mansion at 710 Shoals Watch Way goes by “Castello della Balena,” Italian for “Castle of the Whale,” or, as locals call it, the “Whale House.” It can be yours for a cool $11.99 million.

The house, at 5,514 square feet, is by no means the largest for sale in the state. Real estate websites list many homes larger than 10,000 square feet, including a 16,000-square-foot home for sale for $10.75 million near Asheville. But the Whale House gets a boost from its 2.56-acre lot, which has a tax value of $4.2 million.

The original owner’s appreciation for the marine mammals shines through in the homesite, consisting of two structures built in 2005.

“The architect, Chuck Dietsche, and original builder wanted to create such a unique property,” said listing agent John Munroe, with Wendy Wilmot Properties. “The croft serves as a tail, the main part of the house as ribs, and then the windows on the east side as the front or mouth.”

The scheme is most obvious in the primary living space, where structural supports emulate the bone structure of a whale.

Another notable whale component is less noticeable – a secret passage to the master bedroom that opens when someone pulls on the binding of a copy of the novel “Moby-Dick” on a bookshelf in the study.

The “croft” Munroe mentioned is a separate but connected two-story living space with a garage. And, yes, the house has an elevator.

But the location, sitting 40-plus feet above sea level, is one of its key draws.

Located on the southernmost tip of the island (and of North Carolina, for that matter), the Whale House comes with views of both the eastern and southern beaches and the miles-long Frying Pan Shoals.

“This is the top of the top,” Munroe said. “This is the only place I know of in North Carolina where you can see the sun rising on the ocean and the sun setting on the ocean.”

The current owner, David Peterson, bought the property for $9.7 million in 2012, according to real estate records. It’s been on the market since the spring.

Monroe said there have been two offers and frequent showings for the home. He believes a current Bald Head property owner will buy it in the end.

Bald Head is spattered with second-home vacation spots. Munroe said there may be 220 full time residents, compared to about 1,150 homes on the island. Only one of them, he said, is comparable to the Whale House in size.