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Rabbit's Ferry House

Description

Historic District
No
Name of Property
Rabbit's Ferry House
Type of Building
House

0, 0

The smaller section of the house was built of oak timbers which were hewn and sawed after the growing period of 1741 according to Dr. Herman Hiekkenen, a leading dendrochronologist who examined selected timbers of the house in 1992. The house was originally the Rhodes Vessels house and was built on a farm on Road 277 southwest of Lewes. Dr. Marvil, the Society's first President, heard that the house was to be destroyed and so offered the owners $150.00 for it. Dr. Marvil then gave the house to the Society and it was moved to its present site and restored in 1967. It is a typical cypress singled Sussex County farmhouse laid out in the traditional "hall & parlor" fashion of the mid-18th century. The shingles or shakes were hand hewn from timbers which were cut in the Great Cypress Swamp in western Sussex County. These shakes are weather resistent and were used extensively along the coast. The houses were never painted.

The larger wing of the house is younger and was added about 20 years after the first wing was built, c. 1791. One reason the two doors are opposite each other in the kitchen wing is so a horse hauling a huge log could be led thru the room and out the other side; the log would then be rolled into the fireplace. In addition, the doors would provide ventilation in the summer. The construction of this earlier side is brick nogging which was used as a form of insulation, not as protection from Indians, as several local legends state.

Further research is being undertaken about the construction of the house as well as a history of its owners. The house is home to the Society's fine collection of 18th century kitchen ware and furnishings. The sitting room of the house is furnished through a loan of Delaware State Museums.

Rabbit's Ferry is a small, unincorporated hamlet southwest of Lewes, with several homes and a community center. The origin of the name possibly comes from the following story: Many years ago, a school was being built in the area by residents of the community. While the building was going up, the wives came to bring food for dinner. They spread a cloth outside on the ground for a picnic dinner and while they were eating, a rabbit ran out of the nearby woods - straight across the picnic meal. It caused much confusion and laughter and they said the rabbit had ferried across their picnic. Hence the name. Another story says that a rabbit was seen crossing the nearby stream by means of a log.

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