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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At Long Last, Rehoboth’s Very Own
The resort’s new museum gives a walk down memory lane.
In 1912, John A. Lingo, owner of Lingo’s Market and the Atlantic Canning Company in Rehoboth Beach, built a wooden one-story storage facility on Rehoboth Avenue to hold ice and preserve perishables. He later built a two-story brick structure with insulated cork walls on the site.
After Lingo’s death, the building was an ice-manufacturing plant from 1925 through the 1950s. In 1982 it became a liquor store, aptly named Old Ice House Liquors, which it remained until 1998.
Today the landmark is once again being used for preservation. Now, however, it is preserving the cultural heritage of Rehoboth, with exhibits detailing its evolution from a camp meeting to a resort.
The Rehoboth Beach Museum was the dream of Warren H. “Mac” MacDonald, founder of the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society, who spearheaded the project after the city bought the building in 1998. MacDonald died shortly after the museum’s opening in November.
“He was a great guy,” says Nancy Alexander, the museum’s executive director. “He fell in love with Rehoboth and did a lot of research.”
Alexander, formerly executive director of the Rehoboth Art League, is determined to fulfill the society’s mission. “We want to raise the rest of the money and have programs for all ages and abilities,” she says. The museum to date has raised close to $1 million. Alexander would like another $400,000.
The museum currently occupies the first floor. It opened with “Bathing Beauties: The Evolution of Swimwear in the 20th Century,” a display of swimsuits from the 1890s through the 1970s.
The suits belie the myth that turn-of-the-century swimmers primarily wore black or white, an idea enforced by black-and-white photography. “We have one from the 1930s that is orange and green,” Alexander says. “It’s wacky.”
The second exhibit focuses on Rehoboth’s history, from its start as a camp meeting up until the resort business began booming.
The museum is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sundays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students, seniors and military personnel; and $2 for children ages 6-17. —Pam George