|Image painted by Ed Bronstein|
Museums of The Lewes Historical Society:
Ryves Holt House Museum Gift Shop (c.1665)
Located on the corner of Second and Mulberry Streets, the Ryves Holt House is the oldest house still standing in the State of Delaware. Built around 1665, it has survived fires, pirates, and has witnessed the growth and change of Lewes over the course of centuries. Today it serves as The Lewes Historical Society’s Visitor Center and Museum Gift Shop, offering a wide variety of items including books, prints, household goods, and a variety of Lewes themed merchandise. All of the Society’s walking tours begin at the Ryves Holt House.
Cannonball House (c. 1760)
Struck by a British cannonball during the War of 1812, The Cannonball House is home to The Lewes Historical Society’s Maritime Museum. Located on the corner of Bank and Front Streets, the Cannonball House displays the Society’s maritime collection, ranging from the Fourth Order Fresnel Lens from Fourteen Foot Bank Light in Delaware Bay, to some of the remains of the fallen Cape Henlopen Lighthouse. Admission is $5 per person, or is included in the ticket price of the Maritime Tour. Members, students, and children are free of charge.
Lewes Life-Saving Station (c. 1884)
The Lewes Life-Saving Station is only available for touring via The Lewes Historical Society’s Maritime Tours. During July and August, the LLSS is also open on "Maritime Mondays" and "Shipwreck Saturdays" from 1-3:00pm.
The Lewes Life-saving Station is best known for its heroic surfmen’s actions during the great Bilzzard of 1888. The third station commissioned in Delaware, the Life-Saving Station exhibits the tools and boats used by the surfmen to rescue the victims of shipwrecks up and down the coast. Located on the canal front, at the intersection of Pilottown Road and Shipcarpenter Streets, the Lewes Life-Saving Station is open for specialty programs and is a part of the Maritime Tour.
The Historic Complex
Nestled in the heart of historic Lewes, The Lewes Historical Society’s Historic Complex offers 9 historic buildings for you to explore. Highlighting Lewes’s relationship to the sea and dedication to the preservation of historic structures, these museums help to tell the story of Lewes through the centuries since its founding. The Complex includes the Hiram Rodney Burton House (c. 1725, the only building on its original site), the Burton-Ingram House (c. 1785), the Rabbit’s Ferry House (c. 1740), the Thompson Country Store (c. 1800), the Ellegood House and Blacksmith Shop (c. 1790), the Doctor’s Office (c. 1850), and Midway School #178 (c. 1898).
The Historic Complex is located at 110 Shipcarpenter Street. Explore the buildings during the Life in Lewes Tour. Tours are $10 per person, with members, students, and children free of charge. There is no charge for enjoying the Society’s park-like grounds.
Museums at the Historic Complex:
Burton-Ingram House, c. 1789:
The Society’s first preservation project in 1962, the Burton-Ingram House is noted for its fine Federal period architecture and colonial furnishings. Several extraordinary museum objects are displayed in this elegant home.
Hiram Rodney Burton House, c. 1730:
The only house in the Complex on its original foundation and location, the Hiram Rodney Burton House is named after a prominent local physician who also served two terms in Congress from 1904-1908.
Midway School #178, c. 1898:
The Society’s most recent addition, Midway School #178 is one of only a handful of one-room schools left in Delaware. The Society’s educational programming is carried out within the school.
Old Doctor’s Office, c. 1840:
The Society’s Old Doctor’s Office contains excellent collections of mid- to late-nineteenth century medical instruments. Boasting the only example of Greek Revival architecture in Lewes, the Office also houses nearly 500 volumes of medical texts ranging from the late 18th century to the early 20th.
Rabbit’s Ferry House, c. 1740:
An outstanding example of rural Sussex County architecture, the Rabbit’s Ferry House reflects the hard and simple life of southern Delaware’s 18th century farmers. Hearth-cooking demonstrations are being planned for its kitchen.
Early Plank House, c. 1690:
Constructed by early Swedish settlers in the late 17th century, the Plank House contains examples of rugged, hand-hewn timbers, lofted sleeping spaces, and a small fireplace where meals that were truly earned were cooked.
Ellegood House, c. 1800:
The Ellegood House is another example of an early Sussex County farmhouse. Sheathed in clapboards, the Ellegood House is also a temporary exhibit space.
Thompson Country Store, c. 1800:
Built in Thompsonville, just east of Frederica in Kent County, Delaware, the Thompson Country Store functioned as just that up until 1963 when it was acquired by the Society. Step inside and enjoy a game of checkers, pick up the local papers, or gaze on the Society’s unsurpassed collection of milk-bottles from local dairies.
Blacksmith Shop, c. 1790:
Formerly the home of a Lewes blacksmith, the Society’s Blacksmith Shop compliments the Ellegood House.