“History is not just a seasonal theme for Lewes and its residents. Here, history does not disappear with the tourist. There is a richly knitted, multi-layered, multicultural, on-going narrative in play.”
- James Archer Abbott, Executive Director
2019 marked a great period of growth and transformation for the Lewes Historical Society. The Society expanded community access through the establishment of regular public hours for its Archives -- a first in the organization’s five-decade history. In addition, the LHS reinterpreted its main campus at the end of Second Street largely through volunteer efforts, once again affording direct visitor engagement with nine, regionally significant structures, spanning the 17th through early-20th centuries. Further, LHS expanded programing, adding more walking tours focused on architecture, social, and coastal histories, as well as additional evenings of the innovative ‘Tavern Talks’ series. The Children’s Wing of the Lewes History Museum saw the first full year of field trip visitation of grades K-12, welcoming over 1,500 school children to five interactive areas addressing the region’s rich maritime history.
For 2020, amid the challenges presented by the pandemic, the Lewes Historical Society will continue to increase its accessibility to residents and visitors, alike. Exhibitions will open to include a celebration of the fine arts collection of LHS, with a selection of drawings, paintings, and sculpture from the archives. ‘The Artist as Historian’ finds its home in the one-time parlor of the Hiram Rodney Burton House, welcoming one and all to an exploration of how an artist serves as recorder of the past. Across the hall, a permanent introduction to the nine buildings on the Shipcarpenter Street campus can be found.
On September 4th, the LHS will open an additional permanent exhibition at the Cannonball House, entitled ‘Breaking Britannia’s Grasp: Lewes, the Royal Navy, and the Legacy of 1812’. This thoughtful, multi-media installation will focus on when the War of 1812 arrived in Lewes (formerly Lewistown) via a twenty-seven-hour bombardment. It will examine the conflict from the perspectives of both American residents and British sailors – acknowledging the diversity of races and cultures that were both united and opposed in battle.
The Society’s education and programming departments continue to offer ‘Tavern Talks’ that will include two new themes -- the naval blockades during the War of 1812 and a late-19th and early-20th century debate regarding securing the vote for American women. ‘Living History in Residence’ will allow visitors to hear first-person accounts by reenactors portraying influential historical figures. Our Museum Speaker Series will pick up in August with topics ranging from Women’s Suffrage to the traditions of regional Native American Indians.
The autumn will be packed with events including a first time Maritime Living History Festival in conjunction with the 56th Annual Outdoor Antiques Show, as well as an inaugural Golf Classic! Familiar events such as the Mid-Atlantic Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival and the Fall Craft Fair are planned. Additionally, we are celebrating the season with the return of Boos & Brews! Join us for the holidays with our most anticipated Christmas Tour of Lewes.
The Lewes Historical Society continues to engage visitors to the region through arts and cultural fairs and other programs and hope that you will join us!
The Lewes Historical Society promotes and advocates the preservation, interpretation and cultural enrichment of the Lewes region, through museum exhibits, educational programs, historical research and publications.
The Society is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation governed by a 13-member Board of Trustees.
Annual Operating Budget:
Approximately $677,000 in 2018