Great Places to Live
There’s more to a great neighborhood than great homes. Include top-notch schools, easy transportation, stellar shopping, cultural and recreational diversions, and a palpable pride of place. Here are 11 areas that stand out.
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In a state that appreciates the charm of old mixed with new, Lewes may be the best example of keeping a past alive and well in a very modern present. Aficionados of historic homes appreciate the Colonial and Victorian houses, as well as Shipcarpenter Square, where historical structures from across the Eastern Shore—and one old U.S. Lifesaving Service station—were moved to be restored as comfortable homes.
The Zwaanendael Museum, an adaptation of a Dutch city hall, commemorates the founding of the whaling community here. The Fisher-Martin House is another example of 18th-century Dutch architecture.
The main commercial area, Second Street, offers a diverse collection of shops for antiques, home accessories, quilting, puzzles and toys, art, jewelry and more. It is also home to some of the best restaurants in the state, Notting Hill Coffee Roastery and King’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop.
Ruth Edwards has a unique perspective on Lewes. As proprietor with her husband, Jim, of the John Penrose Virden House Bed and Breakfast on Second Street, Edwards is a resident in the business of welcoming tourists. “I think Lewes is a destination,” she says. “Probably the majority of people come for our beach, then they stay for our restaurants and shops. There’s a lot here to offer, and you don’t have to leave town.”
The annual Blessing of the Fleet, July Fourth games on Second Street, fireworks at the UD College of Marine and Earth Studies, Lewes Farmer’s Market, Delaware Kite festival, the Summer Music Series and the Cape Henlopen State Park bike trail are among Lewes’ most popular celebrations and attractions.
Live theater, symphony, chamber music and the annual Chatauqua Tent performances featuring historic reenactments are some of Lewes’ best-known indoor attractions. And the town’s Little League fields are located along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.
But all is not about living in the past. Lewes is also a resort community with family friendly beaches in Cape Henlopen State Park. The Cape Henlopen School District is the second-largest geographically—and one of the best academic performers. The district, along with Beebe Medical Center, are the town’s largest employers.
Starting a dozen years ago, an influx of residents from the Washington, D.C., area drove a surge of renovations and property values that has finally plateaued. Beautiful single-family homes in subdivisions such as Wolfe Pointe and Wolfe Runne offer a bit of luxurious country living on Gills Neck Road (though the area is developing quickly). More modest new communities can be found along New Road. All are a quick drive to Lewes’ historic center.
Resort style living here is an exceptional value, making Lewes attractive to New York and New Jersey residents looking for an inexpensive second home.
“Heron Bay features single-family homes on half-acre sites starting as low as $159,000,” says builder John Long. “The community includes a clubhouse and pool, and about 15 percent of the residents are living there year-round.”
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