Fall For History
History is in Reach of our Beach
And there's no better time to highlight all the history you can experience here than during the fall, so...
Check out the videos above to learn a little about some of our historical attractions and take a look at our history events and tours for this fall including museums (more than two dozen of them!) and exhibits, all in one place to make planning your Fall for Our History adventures easy! Planning a fall beach weekend? Come a little early or stay a little longer to take advantage of midweek tours, presentations, and museum hours. Please check with individual venues to confirm dates and hours.
The Milton Historical Society
Architectural Walking Tours (Saturday, 9.10.22 and Saturday, 10.15.22, 10am-11am) - Using Milton’s significant collection of historic buildings and the Broadkill River as a backdrop, the tours will introduce visitors to the rich history of the town. Milton is a living document of historic architecture and design. The magnificent houses once owned by wealthy sea captains and merchants and the modest houses of ship carpenters, sailors and shop keepers serve to tell the story of day-to-day life in a bygone era. The tours will explore the town's economic, civic, religious, and neighborhood history.
The Milton Historical Society has curated two new, smaller exhibits in their Main Exhibit Hall:
Lady Under Glass: 19th Century Photographs from the MHS Museum Collection. Over the decades, The Milton Historical Society has acquired dozens of 19th century photographs, some dating back to the introduction of the medium to the United States in the 1850s. Rarely if ever exhibited, these early photographs are now on display. If you have never seen an actual daguerreotype or ambrotype outside of the pages of a book, this is an opportunity to see both of these examples of early photographic technology, locally. Tintypes and cartes-de-visite, which could be found in the pockets of many Civil War soldiers on both sides of the conflict, are on display, as well as examples of the cabinet card format which were present in many Victorian-era parlors in Milton and elsewhere. If you love photography and would like to learn more about the history of photography, you don’t want to miss our new photography exhibit.
19th Century Victorian Parlor: Step back in time to imagine what your home would have looked like with the essential room called the Parlor. You might think the parlor was the predecessor to our odern-day living room or family room. But in actuality, for the most part, the parlor was reserved for and served guests to your home. Special events like weddings, funerals and birth celebrations were held in the parlor; not so much so for an evening at home with the family. Our mini-exhibit represents a small parlor that might have been part of a middle-class or upper-class family home. The museum is open Thursday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm, 210 Union St., Milton. Enjoy a self-guided stroll through the museum and these new exhibits any time Thursday – Saturday.
Holly Festival (Saturday, 12.10.22, 9am-3pm) - The Annual Holly Festival is a Milton tradition. Presented by the Milton Chamber of Commerce and held at the Milton Historical Society, the festival features crafts, artwork, jewelry, and holiday gifts. Fresh plants, wreaths along with festive food items will also be available. Santa will be in attendance.
Rehoboth Beach Historical Society Walking Tours - October 3rd & 10th The Rehoboth Beach Historical Society continues its Walking Tours through the fall starting at 9am at the bandstand. Reservations are required, click here. Tours provide general information about the history of Rehoboth Beach while touching on several of the storms that have shaped the coastline and the beachfront in town.
The Seaford Historical Society
Stay tuned for 2022 updates! Check their website here for updates as dates draw near.
The Lewes Historical Society
- "Finding Their Voices": African American History & Legacy of Lewes Departing from the Society's Historic MainCampus located at 110 ShipcarpenterStreet, this educational tour explores local landmarks that highlight the importance of this chapter in Lewes' history. Storytelling enhances the experience, as ourknowledgeable guides share compelling accounts handed down over the centuries. Through October 30, 2022, Saturday @ 2:00 PM, Tuesdays @ 4:00PM. $10.00 per adult
- Introduction to Lewes: A Maritime Destination Journey through Lewes’ salty past while learning about the explorers who first put the town on the map. Find out which pirates sailed the local waters, and hear about the brave United States Life-Saving Servicemen who rescued victims from perilous shipwrecks. This walking tour includes a visit to the Cannonball House Maritime Museum. (Begins at Ryves Holt House located at 218 Second Street). Saturdays - 10:00 a.m. through October 29, 2022. $10.00 per adult
- Historic Architecture: A View into the Past The town of Lewes boasts multiple architectural styles throughout several eras within a three-block radius. This 60-minute tour includes an introduction to the historic district and its various stylistic elements, with an emphasis on the homes of important historic families and notable people from throughout the past three centuries in Lewes. (Begins at Ryves Holt House located at 218 Second Street) Sundays at 5:00 p.m. through October 30, 2022, Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. through October 28, 2022. $10.00 per adult
- Lewes Legends Historic Lewes is rich with legends and spooky tales. This 90-minute walking tour will enthrall you with stories of strange happenings in “The First Town, in the First State”. After hours we will enter the Cannonball House, which was bombarded by the British during the War of 1812, notably one of the most haunted places in Delaware. (Due to the eerie content of the tour, children seven and under are strongly discouraged from attending. Flashlights are recommended in October.) (Begins at Ryves Holt House located at 218 Second Street) Through October 30, 2022 Sundays & Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. October Additional Dates: Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. $15 per adult
- Boy, Man, Hero: Jacob Jones - Lewes' Own: Exhibit located in the Ryves Holt House, 218 Second Street, Lewes, DE 19958 - Jacob Jones was born in Smyrna, Delaware but lived in the Ryves Holt House for much of his formative years, with the town of Lewes having a dramatic early impact on raising a future naval hero. This Exhibition highlights three periods of Jones' life, with a focus on his upbringing in Lewes, his rising naval career, and the legacy of his life and service.
Breaking Britannia’s Grasp: Lewes, the Royal Navy and the Legacy of 1812, located at the Cannonball House on 118 Front Street. This permanent exhibition is the first of its kind and provides a dual interpretation of the bombardment of Lewes by a British Naval Fleet on April 6th and 7th in 1813. This family-appropriate exhibition delves into the lives of both the sailors aboard the British ships and the actions of Lewes citizens who bravely fought to defend their homes in Lewistown. Exhibit is open to the public on Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is $5 per person (children 12 and under are free). Tickets purchased for this exhibition will also allow visitors free access, for the day, at all other Lewes Historical Society properties, including the Lewes History Museum. Tickets can be purchased at the Cannonball House located at 118 Front Street, the Ryves Holt House, the Lewes History Museum, or the LHS Museum Store and Information Center.
Every Friday through November the Lewes Historical Society opens the doors of the Sussex Tavern at the Rabbits Ferry House for First Fridays. Each month the Tavern comes alive as history interpreters share ales and fascinating tales from the past. New stories and new eras are featured each month! When: 4:00 - 7:00 PM on the First Friday of Each Month through November Where: Sussex Tavern at the Rabbits Ferry House - On the Historic Campus, 110 Shipcarpenter Street, Lewes, Delaware 19958
These informative programs provide scholarly presentations based on stories from Lewes’ past and complement current exhibitions at our museums. When: 1:00 PM on the Second Friday of Each Month During Fall Where: Lewes History Museum, 101 Adams Ave. Lewes, DE Admission: Free.
Friday September 9: A Milliner in the late 1890s - Presented by Corinne Litzenberg. Corinne Litzenberg, Ed.D. portrays her great-great-grandmother, Lucy Litzenberg, on September 9th at the Lewes History Museum. Lucy Litzenberg was a successful milliner in Elkton, Maryland in the late 1800s. Wearing attire from 1886, Corinne portrays the life of a woman milliner in a man’s world. “Lucy” shares the challenges of competing with department stores as the “ready to wear” revolution begins producing hats and clothing. Feel free to don your favorite hat or bowler and enjoy a hands-on sharing of millinery artifacts and curiosities.
Friday October 14: Ryves Holt, So Much More than a House - Presented by Debra Regan. The life and times of Ryves Holt are explored through his own voice, as found in his Traveling Book. This 1750 manuscript gives a rare glimpse into life in Lewes in the 18th century
Friday November 18: Gilbert McCraken- Pilot of the Bay and River Delaware - Presented by Bill Hicks, LHS Historic Campus Coordinator. Join Bill Hicks for this presentation that will explore the life of Captain Gilbert McCracken through letters, documents, and newspaper articles from the period. Captain McCracken led a fascinating life and was a Pilot of the Bay and River Delaware, defender during the 1813 British bombardment of Lewestown, and a lifetime resident of Lewes.
Fairs & Festivals
- Fall Craft Fair: October 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, 110 Shipcarpenter Street.
- Boos and Brews, October 28, 7 - 10 p.m.
Zwaanendael Museum, Lewes
“Mysteries of History.” Walking tour explores the darker and more unusual history of Lewes. Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Tours leave from the museum at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:15 p.m. Free admission but, registration required and limited to 12. Reservations may be made by calling 302-645-1148 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Oct. 7, 2022.
Wings and Wheels , Georgetown
Where the sky meets the road. Friday Dinner Show Sep 30th 6PM – 10PM, Main Event Saturday Oct 1st 10AM – 4PM. Southern Delaware’s annual car and fly in returns this October! Join us for an exciting day out at Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown. Free admission and fun for the whole family! Hang out at the flight line and grab a bite from some of the regions delicious food vendors! New & Classic Cars! Fan of vintage hot rods? New sportscars? There’s something for every gearhead on the lot at Wings & Wheels. Don’t forget your blinker fluid! WW2 Warbirds & More! Bombers, jets, single-engine fighters, and biplanes new and old occupy the tarmac. Watch pilots of all kinds fly off and land on the strip! Listen to The Music: Come listen to the sounds of the party duo Double Agent. You are sure to be entertained!
24th Annual Chautauqua Tent Shows, Lewes
Entertainment, and the artists that brought it to life, will be explored in Delaware’s 24th annual Chautauqua tent show — “That’s Entertainment!” — which will take place on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 8 and 9 at Zwaanendael Park located next to the Zwaanendael Museum at 102 Kings Highway, in Lewes. Admission for all Chautauqua events is free and open to the public. For information, contact the Zwaanendael Museum at 302-645-1148
History Book Festival
Following two years of virtual programs necessitated by the COVID pandemic, the History Book Festival plans to resume live presentations with some 20 distinguished authors of historical nonfiction and fiction works. The Festival, the first and only event of its kind in the United States devoted solely to history, will be from September 23 to 25 in Lewes, DE. The 2022 Festival roster includes Pulitzer Prize winners and New York Times best-selling authors, as well as promising new writers. Books include biographies and topics ranging from politics and world history to exercise, medicine and music. The Festival begins on September 23 with a keynote presentation and concludes on September 25 with a closing address. Throughout the day on September 24, authors will discuss their books at venues in historic Lewes. All events except for the keynote and closing speakers are free; seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For the complete author lineup, click here.
Ocean View Historical Society
Stay tuned for date for The Coastal Towns Historic Cottages Tour
44th Annual Nanticoke Indian Powwow
Indian River Life Saving Station Museum Programs
Stay tuned for 2022 updates!
Museums, Exhibits & Antiques
Eastern Sussex County
- Lightship Overfalls, Lewes: The Overfalls is one of only 17 remaining lightships out of a total of 179 built from 1820 to 1952. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011, it is one of seven lightships in this country still open to the public.
- Old Courthouse, Georgetown's Old Courthouse was built in 1792 and is located 150 feet off the Georgetown Circle on S. Bedford Street. The GPS address is 10 S. Bedford Street. Visitors can see Patty Cannon's poison cache, rare court tipstaffs, and America's last used whipping post on display.
- Lewes History Museum: The Lewes Historical Society recently celebrated the opening of its new museum space featuring their collection of tens of thousands of historic artifacts, artwork, documents, maps and photos. Staffed by skilled professionals from the Society, the Museum serves as the primary source of information about Lewes for visitors, researchers, students and residents. The Museum also provides ongoing seminars, symposia and presentations, a wing for community non-profit gatherings, a children’s interactive history area, and an attractive venue for private celebrations and events. Visit their website for details.
- Cannonball House Museum, Lewes: Cannonball House is the home of The Lewes Historical Society's maritime museum. Nationally important pieces of maritime art and memorabilia are displayed in the house, including the Fresnel Lens of Fourteen Foot Bank Light. There is a cannonball from the War of 1812 bombardment by the British embedded in its foundation.
- Zwaanendael Museum, Lewes: The museum is a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military, and social history. Modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, the museum commemorates the founding of Delaware's first European settlement by the Dutch in 1631.
- Fort Miles Museum and Historic Area, Lewes: Fort Miles, located in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park, was a key piece in the nation's coastal defense during WWII. Take a tour of the Fort, enjoy an interpretive program, dance to a swing band, and celebrate the "greatest generation" in our nation's history. On the National Register of Historic Places. Watch a Pentagon Channel program about the fort here.)
- Rehoboth Beach Museum, Rehoboth Beach: The Society preserves and displays showcase artifacts that illustrate the development of the community. The exhibits range from vintage postcards and bathing suits to original Civil War era maps and train schedules as well as temporary exhibits such as photography and needlework exhibits, etc.
- Anna Hazzard Museum, Rehoboth Beach: This museum boasts a Camp Meeting Era "Tent" structure, which houses a collection of artifacts and memorabilia pertaining to the early days of Rehoboth Beach as a religious retreat.
- Indian River Lifesaving Station, Delaware Seashore State Park: Learn the history of the U. S. Life-Saving Service, the precursor to today's U. S. Coast Guard, by visiting the original Indian River Life-Saving Station. Be swept back to a time where night-time beach patrols and perilous high seas rescues were the only way to save shipwreck victims along the coasts of the United States. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Bethany Beach Dinker-Irvin Museum, Located at 318 Garfield Parkway, this restored cottage will offer visitors an immersive experience of an historically significant early 1900's home and a glimpse of what life was like during the early days of the town. It is one of the few remaining original cottages in Bethany Beach and the oldest public building in town. It served as a U.S. Post Office from 1922-25.
- DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum, Fenwick Island: DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum is an ever-changing exhibit that expands and diversifies with the acquisitions of new artifacts as they are recovered. The collection of shipwreck and recovered artifacts is one of the largest in the Mid-Atlantic and contains shipwreck artifacts both regional and worldwide.
- Fenwick Island Lighthouse, Fenwick Island: The lighthouse is owned by the state of Delaware and maintained by the private, non-profit New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. The "isolated" lighthouse now stands surrounded by a neighborhood of houses and businesses. Visitors can enter the base to view a small museum and gift shop.
Central Sussex County
- The Milford Museum, Milford: Permanent exhibits include local historic events from the 1700s to the present, shipbuilding, and local businesses. Other exhibits include an historic doll collection, Victorian silverware, Delaware ladybugs, and early Milford baseball.
- Treasures of the Sea Museum, Delaware Technical Community College, Georgetown: Betze Library building. The exhibit is a beautiful collection of spanish treasures from a 17th century ship, the Nuestra Seniora de Atocha. The library is also home to the Elsie Williams Doll Collection. Currently the collection of over 600 dolls is housed in more than one dozen glass cases and is continuing to grow.
- Marvel Carriage Museum, Georgetown: There are many historic buildings on the museum grounds such as the Ellis School, a one room school house built in 1833. There are two large barns on the grounds that house carriages from Mr. Nutter Marvel's collection. Among these carriages are the Queen's carriage, the Disney carriage, a peddlers wagon and an 1800's era horse drawn hearse carriage. There are many treasures to be seen here such as the beautiful collection of victrolas, ephemera, photographs, telephones, furniture and many more items related to Georgetown history.
- Delaware Aviation Museum, Georgetown: The museum features many WWII aviation artifacts, memorabilia and displays. Also home of the Jeffrey L. Ethell Memorial Aviation Library of over 3,000 aviation related books. The largest aviation library in the east. Several aircraft are also on display surrounding the museum. www.delawareaviationmuseum.org
- Lydia Black Cannon Museum, Milton: The museum’s exhibit includes original art, sailors’ decorative folk art, photographs, ship building tools, sailing implements, and ships’ logs.
- Nanticoke Indian Museum, Millsboro: Displays include thousands of arrowheads, pottery, axe hammers and other objects, all of which are homemade. Visitors are educated and receive insight of the work that goes into creating Native arts and leave with a new understanding of Nanticoke culture. Display also features an example of our village to show how our elders lived in the old days and lots of artwork from tribal members and others.
- Prince George's Chapel, Dagsboro. Historic chapel with tours available by appointment. Built in 1755, Prince George’s Chapel has its beginnings as an Anglican chapel-of-ease, serving the northern outlying area of Worcester Parish, Maryland. During the reorganization of the Episcopal Church following the American Revolution, the chapel became an independent parish church in the diocese of Delaware. Deeded to the State of Delaware in 1967, it was restored and reopened as a museum, administered by the State. The Chapel’s most striking feature is its graceful barrel-vaulted ceiling of natural, unadorned heart of pine planks. The nave section remains as the original 18th century portion, while the east transept end with its great window and octagonal high pulpit has been reconstructed. The chapel is available for a fee for special events, such as a wedding and religious services, that are consistent with its historical character. For more information or tours, please call 302-732-6835.
Western Sussex County
- Bridgeville Historical Society Museum, Bridgeville: The Society’s collection includes a wealth of artifacts, documents, photographs, and books from local businesses, families, and community organizations.
- Seaford Museum, Seaford: Extensive collections and exhibits highlight local area history following a timeline from Native Americans to present day. Museum contains a library of historical materials, changing exhibit gallery, interactive displays and more.
- Seaford Fire Museum, Seaford: Displays fire memorabilia related to the history of the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department Inc.
- Governor Ross Mansion & Plantation, Seaford: Explore a complete Victorian Italianate mansion with slave quarters, barns, sheds and spacious grounds. Learn what life was like before the Civil War, why a popular Delaware governor was smuggled to England with a Federal warrant out for his arrest and how the “War of Northern Aggression” changed life forever.
- Bethel Heritage Museum, Bethel: Explore the history of this quaint shipbuilding village.
- Cook House Museum, Laurel: The Cook House contains the offices of the Laurel Historical Society, as well as a large number of photos and artifacts that help to tell the story of Laurel and the residents who call it home.
- Laurel Heritage Museum, Laurel: Showcasing an extensive collection of historical documents and objects displayed in our restored Train Station. The Key element of the Museum is the one-of-a kind Waller Photograph Collection, recognized as the premier period historical collection by both the State of Delaware Archives and the University of Delaware.
- Delmar Railroad Museum, Delmar: Delmar, known for its railroading history, is home to a unique highball signal listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby, a 1929 caboose serves as museum for railroad artifacts. The highball signal and caboose are located in a small park on Route 54 at the railroad tracks. The caboose has no regular hours, so call ahead. A railroad history display is also available at the Delmar Public Library, 101 N. Bi.State Blvd. and the Delmarva Model Railroad Club posts holiday open house events for model train enthusiasts.
Love Antiques and Collectibles?
Check out our Antiques Itineraries! The itineraries, at this link, are designed especially for antiques and collectibles fans and can be enjoyed over two days, any time of year, with plenty of time left over for leisurely lunches and sightseeing along the way.