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 (26 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
The Milton Historical Society is excited to offer new events and programs this year. We have launched “Fifty Stories for the 50th”, a new oral history project to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. The project encourages residents of Milton and the surrounding areas to share their stories and memories of the town so they can be saved for generation to enjoy later. All information for those wishing to participate can be found on the Milton Historical Society’s Facebook Page. And the completed project, along with other important updates concerning new exhibits, event and programs can be found on the MHS’s website and other social media platforms. Visit our website here and our Facebook page here.
The Seaford Historical Society
The Seaford Historical Society announces The 1st State Antique Tractor Show, September 18-20 on the Ross Mansion grounds. The Society's annual Fall Festival is tentatively scheduled for October 24. Check their website here for updates as dates draw near.
The Lewes Historical Society
INTRODUCTION TO LEWES: A MARITIME DESTINATION: Journey through Lewes’s salty past while learning of the explorers who first put the town on the map, the pirates that sailed the local waters, and the brave United States Life-Saving Servicemen who rescued victims from perilous shipwrecks. This 60-minute walking tour includes a visit to the 1884 US Life Saving Station building. Saturdays at 10:00am, September 5th – October 24th, $10 per adult
HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE: A VIEW INTO THE PAST: This 60-minute tour includes an introduction to the historic district and various stylistic elements, with an emphasis on the Victorian era and homes of important historic personalities and families of Lewes’s past. Thursdays at 4:00pm, September 3rd – October 15, $10 per adult
LEWES LEGENDS: This 90-minute walking tour will enthrall you with stories of spooky tales and strange happenings and includes a visit to Cannonball House, bombarded by the British during the War of 1812 and notably one of the most haunted places in Delaware. Children 7 and under are strongly discouraged from attending. Wednesdays at 6:00pm, September 2 – October 21st Thursdays from October 1 – 22nd, $15 per adult
LEWES ASHORE & AFLOAT: EXTENDED MARITIME: Travel back to a bygone era and learn about the nautical trades of our past. This 90-minute walking tour will explore the forgotten sites and stories of Shipwrights, Ship Chandlers, Taverns, Shipyards, and the former homes of seafarers. Fridays at 4:00pm, September 4th – October 23rd, $20 per adult
The exhibition Breaking Britannia's Grasp: Lewes, the Royal Navy and the Legacy of 1812 opens at the Cannonball House, 118 Front Street, on September 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fairs & Festivals
The Antique/Maritime Festival: September 5, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Experience Lewes’s Maritime Living History Festival in conjunction with the 56th Annual Outdoor Antiques Show!
Mid-Atlantic Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival: September 26 & 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, 110 Shipcarpenter Street.
Fall Craft Fair: October 3 & 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, 110 Shipcarpenter Street.
Tavern Talks: Suffrage Starts with You! September 18 & 19 at LHS Campus - OUTDOORS! Adults $20 (children 12 and under free) Celebrate the centennial of the 19th amendment ratification by joining the original spirited suffragists of Sussex, DE in their monthly meeting of the Congressional Union for Women's Suffrage. Tickets available at the door and online.
Zwaanendael Museum, Lewes
- In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote, Delaware’s 22nd annual Chautauqua tent shows — “Women’s Work: Campaigning for Social Change”—will be presented during two successive weeks in September 2020. Due to uncertainty involving the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs decided on Aug. 6, 2020 that its 22nd annual Chautauqua tent shows—“Women’s Work: Campaigning for Social Change”—would not be conducted in front of a live audience but would instead be conducted in a virtual format.In a press release, entitled “Women’s Work: Campaigning for Social Change” (see attached), distributed on July 30, 2020, the division had indicated that the Chautauqua would take place at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, Del. on Sept. 10 and 11, 2020; and on the Green in New Castle, Del. on Sept. 19 and 20, 2020. According to the new format, the events will still take place on those dates but without a live audience. Instead, activities will be streamed live via Zoom. For additional information, visit: https://history.delaware.gov/22nd-annual-chautauqua/. “Women’s Work: Campaigning for Social Change” will demonstrate the passionate efforts of suffragists striving toward one goal—earning the right for women to vote and participate equally in the nation’s political, social and economic life. Through theatrical enactments by both individuals and groups, lectures and musical performances, Chautauqua guests will be immersed in the women’s suffrage movement and experience the impact that it had on Delaware and its people. Activities will be capped on Sept. 10 and 11th with evening performances by actor-historians from the American Historical Theatre portraying, respectively, the noted suffragists Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt. A complete schedule of Chautauqua activities will be published in August.
Ocean View Historical Society
The Coastal Towns Historic Village will be open - using appropriate social distancing guidelines - during upcoming Town of Ocean View events at the John T. West Park. Docents from the Ocean View Historical Society will be available to discuss Cecile Steele’s chicken house, the Tunnell-West house, the Ocean View Post Office, and the recently built Hall’s Store Visitor and Education Center (Hall’s Store was Ocean View’s original name). The Coastal Towns Historic Village is directly adjacent to the John T. West Park. Event dates include September 11, 18 & 25 from 6 p.m.; October 31 from 1 – 4 (rain date Novemer 1); November 28 from 2 – 6 p.m. (rain date November 29.)
Indian River Life Saving Station Museum Programs
Hidden History of Delaware Seashore: Saturdays, September 12, October 3, 24, November 7, 2 p.m. If only the dunes could talk, they’d have some fascinating stories to tell! Luckily, our park’s historian has uncovered some not-so-well-known stories about how the park has changed over the last century. Visit some iconic sights in the park, as well as some lesser-known areas, and discover the hidden history of Delaware Seashore State Park. Meet at the Indian River Life-Saving Station; participants must drive themselves since social distancing is not possible in the park bus. Pre-registration required by calling (302) 227-6991. $6 per person.
Firing of the Lyle Gun: A Life-Saving Cannon: Saturday, September 19, Wednesday, October 28, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Talk a self-guided tour through the historic Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum and watch park staff fire the Lyle gun, a life-saving cannon used to assist in rescuing shipwreck victims over 100 years ago. Plan your tour to be before or after one of the two firing times. Free with paid museum admission.
Paddle Through History: The Assawoman Canal: Intermediate course. Previous paddling experience ecommended. Saturdays, September 12 & 19, 9:30 a.m. The Assawoman canal was envisioned as a part of an inland waterway over 150 miles in length; dug in the late 19th century, it connects the Indian River and Little Assawoman Bays. Rather than be used for trade, it became the easiest way to reach Bethany Beach before automobiles. Explore this waterway via kayak with a park naturalist and a park historian to learn about its history, and the role it plays in the coastal ecosystem. Ages 13 and up; under 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult. Pre-registration required by calling (302) 227-6991. $35 per person
Night Hike: The Indian River Inlet Bridge: Friday, September 18 at 7:30 p.m. Friday, October 16 at 7 p.m. Enjoy walking over the Indian River Inlet Bridge in all it’s night-time glory! Learn how the dynamic forces of nature and the efforts of man have literally shaped the inlet into what is it today. Pre-registration required by calling (302) 227-6991. $6 per person
Moonlit Shipwreck Hike: Friday, October 2 at 7 p.m., November 13 at 5:30 p.m. The desolate beach between the Indian River Inlet and the Life-Saving Station is known by the locals as “coin beach” as coins from a shipwreck that happened in 1785 still wash up today. Join park staff for a lantern-lit walk on this beach and learn about historic shipwrecks and heroic rescues that occurred right off the coast of our park many years ago. Pre-registration required by calling (302) 227-6991. $10 per person. For more like this, see Halloween programs.
Moonlit Shipwreck Hikes: Saturday, October 24. Tours last about 45 minutes and depart every half hour starting at 6:30 p.m. The desolate beach between the Indian River Inlet and the Life-Saving Station is known by the locals as “coin beach” as coins from a shipwreck that happened in 1785 still wash up today. Join park staff for a lantern-lit walk on this beach and learn about historic shipwrecks and heroic rescues that occurred right off the coast of our park many years ago. Pre-registration required by calling (302) 227-6991. $10 per person
The Dark Past of the Indian River Inlet: Saturday, October 31, 1 and 2 p.m. Join a park interpreter for a guided walk over the inlet bridge. Along the way, learn about some of the “unlucky” events that have occurred in and around the inlet, dating back to the late 18th century! Pre-registration required by calling (302) 227-6991.
Night at the Museum: Saturday, November 7, Call to reserve your time slot between 6 and 8 p.m. Touring the Indian River Life-Saving Station at night is an experience far different from normal business hours, and typically leaves visitors with a stronger impression of the surfmen that patrolled our beaches long ago. Enjoy a semi-guided tour of the station, chat with park interpreters, and enjoy a lantern-lit walk on the beach. Pre-registration required by calling (302) 227-6991. $10 per person
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: Will be open September 1, 15 and October 6, 20, and November 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 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 Historic Site, 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 Museum, Bethany Beach: Located in the foyer of the Town Hall, the exhibits contain memorabilia and photographs from the Bethany Beach area.
- 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. Summer hours: May 27 to June 30, Sat & Sun 10am to 2pm; July 1 to August 3, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon 10am to 2pm; Sept 1 to Sept 18 Sat & Sun 10am to 2pm.
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. Exhibith "Made in Milford" through December.
- 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. Self-guided audio tour of the town of Milton is available at http://www.historicmilton.org/discover/
- 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.
- Days Gone By Museum, Woodland: Woodland Ferry history, restored antique tractors, carpenter's tools and other artifacts. Tours by appointment only.
- 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.