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Ryves Holt House Museum


218 Second Street
Lewes, Delaware 19958


March 2024 Hours: 

Thursday through Saturday 

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hours starting April 1, 2024:

Tuesday through Saturday

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hours starting November 5, 2024:

Thursday through Saturday

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is the starting location for most of our seasonal tours. Please check the Calendar or Tours page.

About Ryves Holt House Museum

The Ryves Holt House contains the unique Dutch H-bent framing of a late-seventeenth-century
dwelling, dating to c.1686 and making it Delaware’s oldest building on its original foundation.
Consisting of numerous phases of construction, the Ryves Holt House represents the
architectural traditions of the early European immigrants of the Delaware Valley, such as the
Dutch, Swedes, and English.

Quakers Phillip and Sarah Russell immigrated to Lewes from Bristol, England, and hired
Dutch-influenced carpenters to build the house in 1686. Russel was issued a license for an
ordinary, or tavern, in this building, which served the family as a home and business into the
early eighteenth century.

In 1721, Ryves Holt, the newly appointed Naval Officer of the Port of Lewes, moved
from Philadelphia with his wife Catherine Roach and daughter Penelope, and two years later
purchased the house as his family’s residence. Holt went on to serve in various political positions
in Delaware, including High Sheriff, Collector of Public Levy, Overseer of the Highways, Justice
of the Peace, King George II’s Attorney for Sussex Co., and the Speaker of the Delaware State
Council. Notably, Holt was the Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court until his death in
1763. The property remained with Holt’s family until 1792, when Holt’s step-great-grandson and
famed United States naval officer Jacob Jones sold the property.

The Marriners, who ran the Sussex Tavern in the old courthouse next door, acquired the
Ryves Holt House in 1803. In 1836, Reece Marriner, then dwelling in Philadelphia, sold the
property to John Marshall, a Lewes pilot.

The Ryves Holt House would remain with the Marshall family until 1981, when they sold
the home to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The Lewes Historical Society started leasing the
building in 1997, ultimately purchasing it in 2005.