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Old Doctor's House

Spring Appeal

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Description

Historic District
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The Old Doctor's Office documents Lewes' past in three different but complimentary ways. First, it reflects the tremendous contribution that Lewes has made to medicine in Delaware, second it is the only surviving example of Greek Revival architecture in Lewes (and a fine one at that), and it refelcts the reality that buildings in Lewes were moved from location to location quite frequently. Lewes buildings were moved frequently throughout town; the practice is common throughout Sussex County in general. The Doctor's Office was built on Savannah facing Second Street c. 1836, moved to Second Street, then moved by the Society to Chestnut Street near Third Street, then moved again by the Society to Market Street (site of the present Mary Vessels park), and, when the Society was able to purchase the Hiram Rodney Burton House in the early 1990s, it was moved for the last time to the Historic Complex where it sits today.

It's simple yet elegant Greek Revival features are unique in Lewes. It is the only surviving example in town and records cannot confirm if it was the only building of that style constructed in Lewes. Sporting Doric columns hewed from single pieces of wood and its low, triangular pediment reflect trends popular throughout American culture from the early- to mid-nineteenth century. Greek Revival dominated American architecture during the period 1818-1850. It was the first truly national style in the United States, found in all regions of the country. The popularity of the style was due to strong associations with classical tradition and democracy. Massive pilasters or wide columns supporting a triangular pediment and a flat band under the eaves gave the appearance of a Greek temple; the proportions of the Old Doctor's Office's recall the temple of Athena Nike in Athens. Greek Revival was very adapatable, and permeated all levels of building, from high to low.

Built in the Greek Revival Style on Savannah Road, the building has housed some of the most noted physicians in Delaware such as the Halls, Orrs, and Beebes. The building houses an impressive collection of nineteenth century medical apparati ranging from doctors bags to apothecary containers, operating instruments, a beautiful c. 1860s wicker wheelchair as well as a wooden leg prosthesis. Exhibits in the Office focus on both nineteenth century techniques and practices as well as some of the personalities of Lewes medicine of the time.

The Old Doctor's Office survived the New Year's Eve fire of 1970 and was donated soon thereafter to the Society. It is the gift of William Clifton.

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