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.
Stay tuned for updates on 2023 Milton Fall programs.
Seaford Community Fall Festival, Sunday, October 22, 2023, Governor Ross Mansion Grounds, 23669 Ross Station Rd., Seaford, DE 19973. 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. This annual event has quickly become a fall favorite in western Sussex County. Trunk-r-Treat, Games, Petting Zoo, Mansion Tours, and More! Admission is $2 with Mansion Tours also $2. Children must be accompanied by responsible adults.
Seaford Museum Holiday Train Show, Opens November 24, 2023, See Website for Dates and Times. The Seaford Museum, 203 High Street, Seaford, DE 19973. Bring back those fond memories of Christmas Past! See a large layout featuring two operating trains running by hundreds of Department 56 buildings and figures. Also see antique trains from several local collectors. Fun for all ages! Admission is $3 for adults, with kids getting in free. 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 main campus located at 110 ShipcarpenterStreet, this 90-minute educational tour explores local landmarks that highlight the importance of this chapter in Lewes' history. Storytelling enhances the experience, as our knowledgeable guides share compelling accounts handed down over the centuries. Through September 30, 2023, Saturday @ 2:00 PM, Tuesdays @ 4:00 PM $12.00 per person $5.00 12 and under
- Introduction to Lewes: A Maritime Destination
Journey through Lewes’ salty past while learning about the explorers who first put the town on the map, the pirates who sailed the local waters, and hear about the brave United States Life-Saving Servicemen who rescued victims from perilous shipwrecks. (Begins at Ryves Holt House located at 218 Second Street). Saturdays - 10:00 a.m. through September 30. 2023, $10.00 per adult, $5.00 12 and under
- 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, emphasizing the homes of important historic families and notable people from Lewes throughout the past three centuries. (Begins at Ryves Holt House located at 218 Second Street). Sundays at 5:00 p.m. through October 24, 2023, Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. through September 28, 2023. $12.00 per adult, $5.00 12 and under
- 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 eight and under are strongly discouraged from attending. Flashlights are recommended in October.) (Begins at Ryves Holt House located at 218 Second Street). Through September 27, 2023, Sundays & Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. October 4-29, 2023, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 6:00 p.m. $15 per adult, $5 under 12
Visit their website for list of current exhibits.
The first Friday of every month, the Lewes Historical Society opens the doors of the Sussex Tavern at the Rabbits Ferry House for Historic Lewes First Fridays. Each month the Tavern comes alive as history interpreters share ales and fascinating tales from the past. When: 4:00 - 7:00 PM on the First Friday of Each Month. Where: Sussex Tavern at the Rabbits Ferry House - On the Historic Campus, 110 Shipcarpenter Street, Lewes, Delaware 19958
Join our historic interpreters and immerse yourself in the daily life of Lewes during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Every Friday and Saturday living history interpreters at both Cannonball House and Rabbits Ferry House recreate the lives and trades of ordinary Lewistowners. Highlights include our tavern, ropewalk, garden, and more! When: Through October 2023 - Weather permitting. Where: Rabbits Ferry House on the Historic Campus, at 110 Shipcarpenter Street and the Cannonball House, 118 Front Street, Lewes, Delaware, 19958
On October 14 & 15, LHS will hold Harvest of Discontent: 1773. This interpretative program is set in the autumn of 1773 when Lewes was still a part of King George III’s dominion. Guests visiting the Lewes Historical Society’s Historic Main Campus will step back into the final, fraught months of 1773 to engage with history first-hand. Throughout the weekend, they will have the opportunity to meet the inhabitants of colonial Lewistown as they demonstrate historical activities and grapple with the mixed harvest of familiar crops and revolutionary ideals to sustain them through the long winter ahead.
“Faber Sua Fortuna”- A Self-Made Man: In 1793 our country faced a national health crisis, Yellow Fever. During the hot and humid summer of 1793, thousands of Philadelphians grew terribly ill. Those that could flee, left the city. Located only 89 nautical miles south of the outbreak epicenter, Lewistowners had their own wild, and sometimes dangerous, theories and remedies for the deadly virus. By today’s standards these emotions may seem outlandish—but also all too familiar. Join us at the Sussex Tavern and learn how residents of the past faced this crisis in conjunction with another crisis not unique to its time—unexpected visitors arriving in droves to Lewistown. When: Friday, September 15th, 5 pm & 7 pm; Saturday, September 16th, 5 pm & 7 pm; Friday, September 22nd, 5 pm & 7 pm; Saturday, September 23rd, 5 pm & 7 pm. Where: Sussex Tavern at the Rabbits Ferry House, Historic Campus 110 Shipcarpenter Street, Lewes, Delaware. Tickets include light refreshments. Admission: $25.00 per adult. Must be 21 or older to attend.
These informative programs provide scholarly presentations based on stories from Lewes’ past and complement current exhibitions at our museums. Lewes History Museum, 101 Adams Ave. Lewes. Admission: Included with museum admission.
Hiram Rodney Burton: The Man Who Does Things, Date: September 8, 2023 - Time: 1:00 p.m., Presented By: Alan Jensen
When Lewes locals hear the Hiram Rodney Burton, they may think of one of the houses that make up the Lewes Historical Society's collection of homes at 110 Shipcarpenter Street. But there is a lot more to the story. Like his campaign slogan when he ran for Congress in the early part of the 20th Century, Hiram Rodney Burton was a man of action and crammed a lot into his life as a local physician, politician, businessman, respected Lewes citizen, bank executive, and more. Join Alan Jensen, Lewes History Museum Coordinator, as he tells the story of a man who had numerous interests and help many positions in his long and productive life - Hiram Rodney Burton.
Delaware's Naval Heritage: Introduction and Overview, Date: October 20, 2023 - Time: 1:00 p.m., Presented By: William Manthorpe
The presentation will proceed chronologically from the Revolution to modern times. For each era, it will briefly summarize the naval people, places, and events that have shaped the history of Delaware and the nation. Bill Manthorpe is a retired Navy Captain and senior naval intelligence officer.
History Revival: Costal Chronicles, Dates: September 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, Location: Lewes Public Library, History Revival: Costal Chronicles is a lecture series hosted by the Zwaanendael Museum in partnership with the Lewes Public Library. This year, History Revival will focus on all things maritime! This free event will welcome speakers, authors, musicians, and performers to help widen our understanding of maritime. Friday events take place at 5pm and 6:30pm, Saturday events take place at 2pm and 3:30pm.
Mysteries of History Walking Tours, Dates: October 7, 14, 21, and 28, Location: The Zwaanendael Museum, Lewes DE Walk through Lewes with the Zwaanendael Museum and learn about some of the spookier aspects of the towns’ history. Tours begin at 2 p.m. Limited spots are available for each tour, so please reserve your spot. Call the Zwaanendael Museum at (302) 645-1148, or email us at Zmuseum@delaware.gov
Exhibit: Shared Truths, Location: Zwaanendael Museum, Lewes DE, “Shared Truths,” explores the people who witness, shape and record Delaware history. This exhibit will feature a different community member every year. The first person featured in this exhibition, Kathy Carpenter, has been advocating for transgender rights and community acceptance throughout her life. In 2022, she donated a small collection of objects that commemorate the moment she won the title of Miss Sussex County Amateur in 2000. On public display for the first time, these objects celebrate her work in LGBTQ+ advocacy in Delaware.
Exhibit: Segregated Sands, Location: Virtual exhibit available online, Link: https://history.delaware.gov/zwaanendael-museum/segregated-sands/, The Delaware beaches we know today were one very different. Not just in how they looked with fewer building and boardwalks- but in who was permitted to use them. “Segregated Sands” is a virtual exhibit that highlights many of the beaches that Black, Indigenous and other people of color visited in Delaware during the segregation era.
Wings and Wheels , Georgetown
October 6, 2023: Dinner in the Tropics, October 7, 2023: Main Events, All at Delaware Coastal Airport, Georgetown, DE. Join us for a day of family fun and WWII military history. Planes, cars, USNA Parachute Team, entertainment, food, craft & information vendors
25th Annual Chautauqua Tent Shows, Lewes - Stay tuned!
25th Annual Chautauqua Tent Shows, Lewes - Stay tuned!
For information, contact the Zwaanendael Museum at 302-645-1148
The Festival, the first and only event of its kind in the United States devoted solely to history, will be from September 29, 30, and October 1 in Lewes, DE. The History Book Festival will feature 24 fiction and nonfiction authors. Saturday events are free. Shuttle services will be provided. Tickets to Sunday's Closing Address featuring James McBride are still available and include a signed hardcover copy of his latest raved-about novel, "The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store." For full program information and tickets, visit HistoryBookFestival.org.
Stay tuned for date for The Coastal Towns Historic Cottages Tour
September 9th and 10th 2023 at Hudson Field, Milton, DE.
Performances will run on Saturday 10am until 7pm two dance sessions. Grand entry at 12 p.m. Sunday September 10 church service 8:30 a.m.
Stay tuned for 2023 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 Museum features 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.