History by the Sea
With the settlement of Lewes only a few years after Jamestown, Virginia, Sussex County history is truly a reflection of America’s roots. Thankfully, there are many distinctive museums to help tell the region’s story. Following are some of the best.
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Overfalls Maritime Museum
Lewes-Rehoboth Canalfront, Lewes, 644-8050
Only one of 17 remaining lightships, the Overfalls served the Coast Guard from its construction in 1938 to 1971. With the vessel docked in Lewes since it was decommissioned, tireless volunteers have worked years to restore the Overfalls to its former glory. It recently was towed to New Jersey for nearly $1.2 million in repairs to its hull. When Overfalls returns to Lewes later this year, you’ll see a prime example of a rare vessel.
203 High St., Seaford, 628-9828
It’s far from the beach, but Seaford’s museum gives visitors a real understanding of the importance this Nanticoke River city had in Delaware’s history. The stories of Seaford’s individuals and businesses reflect America’s own history throughout the 1800s, from the way slavery tore families apart to the advancement of the Machine Age. The museum has done its job so well that the Smithsonian, as part of its Museums on Main Street project, has chosen Seaford to host its traveling “Between Fences” exhibit from September to November. The exhibit explores the role of fences in American history, politics, industry and life. It’s worth driving to see.
Savannah Road and Kings Highway, Lewes, 645-1148
One of the niftiest Sussex County Museums, the Zwaanendael is modeled after the historic town hall in Hoorn, The Netherlands. It has beautiful exhibits showing artifacts from the turbulent history of Delaware’s first settlement. Glassware, ceramics and decorative arts spanning the 18th and 19th centuries reflect Dutch settlement, we well as the British attack and trade in Lewes. Along with items pertaining to the old Cape Henlopen Lighthouse and the shipwrecked H.M.S. DeBraak, you can also see some of the myriad pieces recently retrieved from the 18th-century English cargo ship Severn that was discovered a few years ago during beach dredging.
Page 4: At Long Last, Rehoboth's Very Own | The resort's new museum gives a walk down memory lane.