Behind the Scenes at The Lewes Historical Society

Even during a pandemic, The Lewes Historical Society located in Lewes, Delaware has much happening around the community.

April is when the tulips bloom and the staff readies for a busy season at the Lewes Historical Society. This year, 2020, will be a particularly exciting year with the arrival of James A. Abbott as its executive director/curator. What an impressive background in museum operations and curating he brings to Lewes, read about it here. Abbott is also a published author and I’m looking forward to his latest book, “Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration,” due to be re-released in 2021.

Numerous 2020 Initiatives Underway

I spoke with Suzanne Jones who has been a volunteer with the society since 1998/99. She even served as Secretary of the Board while her husband Rogers Jones was President from 2006–2009. Suzanne is a wealth of history herself and she filled me in on the many initiatives underway. Like all of us during this pandemic, virtual meetings and conference calls keep the planning going, while some events are being postponed and rescheduled.
The Museum Store and Information Center, currently located at the corner of Savannah Road and 3rd Street, has an interesting history. In 1898, it was the Sussex Trust Bank, then it became the Zwaanendael Women’s Club before it was sold to the Lewes Historical Society for the sum of $1. Before cell phones took over, this organization published the Lewes Phone Book to raise money. When I first came to Lewes, I remember them selling that little gray book!

The Lewes Historical Society Museum is spread throughout the town and includes the oldest house in Delaware on its original foundation—the Ryves Holt House—one of 50 oldest houses in the United States. The house is now part of the First State National Historical Park which consists of seven individual sites that are spread throughout the entire state of Delaware.

Relocating the Museum Store

The Museum Store will be moving from its current location into the shop located at the Ryves Holt House which is being restored and upgraded with necessities like central A/C. When you visit the shop, you’ll notice they carry unique items that you just can’t find on Second Street. The Grand Re-Opening had been scheduled for May 14th though we’re expecting there might be a delay.

Annual Seaglass Festival

Their big annual fundraiser, the Seaglass Festival, is scheduled for June 27-28 on the grounds of the Lewes Historical Society complex on Shipcarpenter Street. All the houses will be open, manned by volunteers in period costumes. Everyone hopes that the COVID-19 lockdown will be over before these dates.

When the new Lewes Library was opened, with the help of generous donations and gifts, the old library became the Margaret H. Rollins Community Center, the Lewes History Museum/Children’s Discovery Center. This community center is the centerpiece of the cultural campus in Lewes which includes 18 miles of trails, a concert stage, parks, children’s garden, and the Lewes Public Library.

Watch the Virtual Tour

Until we can get out and visit the Lewes Historical Society Museum and historic buildings, enjoy the new video series, Meet the Past & Lewes Legends & Landmarks and view their collections from the comfort of your own home.