OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN LEWES
a history dating back to 1631, it is not surprising to find many
homes in Lewes of both historical and architectural interest. Only
a small number of them are listed here. A map and visitors guide
which lists many other sites of interest with a small description
is available free of charge at many local businesses, museums, and
at the Chamber of Commerce information center. For more in-depth
information, the History of Lewes Delaware, and Vicinity, published
by the Colonel David hall Chapter, DAR, is a good reference book.
It is available for a minimal charge in the gift shop at the Zwaanendael
Museum. Another booklet, Victorian Lewes and Its Architecture, is
available at the Lewes Historical Society. Both books are available
at the Chamber office.
respect the privacy of the families who live in our old homes, many
of which are open during the Annual Christmas House Tour, held the
first Saturday in December.
Road & Kings Highway
Built in 1931, this adaptation of the old Stathius (City Hall)
in Hoorn, the Netherlands, houses permanent and changing displays
and exhibits, including the Cape Henlopen Story, the H.M.S. DeBraak,
and the material culture of the surrounding area.
Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30
p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. No admission is charged,
donations are accepted.
behind the Zwaanendael Museum at intersection of
Highway and Savannah Road
Circa 1730, this charming gambrel-roofed house was moved from
the country at Cool Spring in 1980 as part of the celebration
of the 350th anniversary of the first European settlement on Delaware
soil. Just when it was built and by whom is uncertain. The tract
at Cool Spring was owned in 1695 by Thomas Fisher, a wealthy merchant,
and was left to his son Joshua who became famous for charting
the Delaware Bay. It was sold in 1736 to Rev. James Martin, a
minister of Cool Spring, Indian River, and Lewes Presbyterian
churches. It stayed in the Martin family for over two hundred
years. The building is used as a focal point for community activities
and exhibits. The Lewes Chamber of Commerce information center
is located in the house.
Restrooms are located behind the Fisher-Martin House in Zwaanendael
DAVID HALL HOUSE
This early 18th century cypress-shingled house is mentioned in
a 1734 will of Nathaniel Hall, but is named after his more famous
grandson, Colonel David Hall - lawyer, revolutionary soldier and
judge - who was elected the 15th Governor of Delaware in 1802.
The interior of the house contains original woodwork, paneling
and plaster ornamentation.
entire first floor and old brick cellar of the Hall House are
now open as a gift shop featuring 18th & 19th century antique
furniture in period-room settings, traditional American crafts,
Hall, who commanded the celebrated "Delaware Line" of
the Continentals during the Revolutionary War at Valley Forge,
is buried in the Lewes Presbyterian Church yard.
in 1961, this colonial-style building houses offices of the City
of Lewes, the Board of Public Works and the Lewes Police Department.
fireplace, in the Council Room, is made of stone from the Henlopen
Lighthouse which fell on April 13, 1926.
LEWES PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Lewes Presbyterian Church was founded in 1682, and the present
building was dedicated in 1832. It replaced two previous buildings
on the same site, one built in 1707 and the other, a brick edifice,
begun in 1727.
beautiful Communion Service was presented to the Church about
1851 by Colonel Samuel Boyer Davis, Lewes-born commander of the
troops at Lewes during the bombardment of the town in 1813.
are many interesting tombs in the churchyard, including those
of two Delaware governors, Colonel David Hall and Ebe W. Tunnell.
PETER'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
and Market Streets
present building, consecrated in 1858 and restored to its original
beauty in 1948, was preceded by two prior structures, the first
one having been begun before February 14, 1707. A congregation
of the Church of England existed in Lewes prior to 1681. There
are many interesting stones in the churchyard, the oldest being
that of Margaret Huling, born 1631. Four governors of Delaware
are buried here.
bronze tablet on the outside of the brick wall calls attention
to the site of the Old Court House, erected when Lewes was the
County Seat of Sussex.
HOLT HOUSE c. 1665
and Mulberry Streets
dignified shingled house is believed to be the oldest house in
the state. It is known to have been standing on its present site
in 1685 and has recently been dated at 1665 through the analysis
of borings taken from the wood used in the structure. Once a colonial
inn, this is the house to which Ryves Holt came in 1721 when he
arrived at "Port Lewes." Holt (1696-1763) became the
Naval Officer of the Port and was also many times High Sheriff
of Sussex County. With other appointments and offices to his credit,
he was made the first Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court in
The Three Lower Counties on the Delaware in 1745 and served in
this capacity until his death.
Jacob Jones also lived in this house. Following the death of his
mother, his father married a daughter of Ryves Holt. Commodore
Jones won acclaim when his ship WASP captured the more heavily
armed British warship Frolic during the war of 1812.
8 - 15 are administered by the Lewes Historical Society. Information
on building openings, tours and special events held at the complex
may be obtained by phoning (302) 645-7670.
and Third Street (In the Historic Complex)
from Second Street in 1962 by the Lewes Historical Society, the
main section of this house is constructed of hand-hewn timbers
and cypress shingles. It contains an interesting stairway and
interior woodwork as well as fine interior and exterior moldings.
The cellar walls are of sailing ballast stones and brick. A section
from a similar dwelling was brought from Milton to replace an
original wing destroyed by fire in 1922. The Leah Burton Paynter
bequest of 1968 enabled the Society to complete the restoration.
RABBIT'S FERRY HOUSE-VISITOR CENTER
Street (In the Historic Complex)
house was moved from the Rabbit's Ferry area of rural Lewes in
1967 and restored by the Lewes Historical Society. The small part
is an early eighteenth century one-room farmhouse with a sleeping
loft, and contains original cypress shingles and brick nogging
in walls, woodwork and fireplace paneling. The larger portion,
added in the middle of the eighteenth century, boasts doors, chair
rail, window and door trim, mantle and paneling that are all original
and intact. Tour tickets are available at Rabbit's Ferry House.
THOMPSON COUNTRY STORE
Street (In the Historic Complex)
in Thompsonville, Delaware, about 1800, this store was operated
continuously by the Thompson family from 1888 to 1962. Given to
the Lewes Historical Society by Harvey Thompson, it was moved,
repaired and reopened by the Society in 1963. The store has many
of its original appointments and has remained essentially the
same as when it served its original purpose on a full-time basis.
the Ellegood House (behind the Country Store) contains a gift
shop with souvenirs and hand-crafted, country-type items, which
are sold to benefit the Lewes Historical Society.
EARLY PLANK HOUSE
the Thompson Country Store (In the Historic Complex)
This small building, originally located in the rear of the Orton
property on Pilottown Road, was moved in 1963 to its present site.
Experts hold construction to be of early Swedish type and while
no construction date has been agreed upon, it is one of the area's
earliest buildings. The wood floor and hand-carved clothes pegs
point to its use as a dwelling. It has been restored and finished
as an early settler's cabin.
THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE
the Early Plank House (In the Historic Complex)
This handsome Greek Revival structure was built about 1850 by
Dr. David Hall on Savannah Road across from Second Street. Dr.
Hall practiced medicine until just before 1900 when he sold the
building to Dr. W.P. Orr, Jr., who moved it to the Northeast side
of Second Street and used it until 1904. The next occupant was
Joseph Shek who operated his tailor shop there. In 1945 it became
Clifton's Newsstand and survived the Lewes Fire of 1971.
Cliftons donated the building to the Lewes Historical Society.
It has been restored and outfitted as a museum showing a doctor's
office at the turn of the century.
THE HIRAM BURTON HOUSE
Street & Shipcarpenter Square (In the Historic Complex)
The Hiram R. Burton House has an 18th century kitchen wing which
adjoins a larger section constructed at a later date. Furnishings
were received from the private collection of John Farrace. This
was the home of Dr. Hiram Rodney Burton, Lewes physician, President
of the Medical Society of Delaware, and a Queen Anne's Railroad
Director, who served two terms in Congress upon his election in
historical building contains a Reading Room for those interested
in reading Delaware history.
CANNONBALL HOUSE MARINE MUSEUM
and Bank Streets
Erected prior to 1797, the building is sheathed with cypress shingles
and was the home of David Rowland. It is known as the Cannonball
House because it was struck by a cannonball in the War of 1812
during the bombardment of Lewes by the British on April 6-7, 1813.
The building has been restored by the Lewes Historical Society
and contains the Marine Museum, which houses an ever-increasing
number of nautical exhibits. The garden was planned and landscaped
by the Sussex Gardeners.
THE LIGHTSHIP OVERFALLS
Road (on Canal Front)
The Lewes Historical Society accepted from the U.S. Coast Guard
in 1973 one of the last lightships which functioned on the East
Coast. It stood for years off Boston and upon being brought to
Lewes was rechristened Overfalls for the lightship which from
1892 to 1961 patrolled the entrance to the Delaware Bay. The ship's
move to Lewes, its preparation for a museum role, and its relocation
to a permanent berth made available by the city in 1975, have
all been major undertakings overseen by the Overfalls Lightship
length of Pilottown Road between locations 15 and 19 (about one
mile) has been called "The Historic Mile," as it is
contended that the "Zwaanendael Area" (original settlement)
included a mile along the present day Pilottown Road.
restrooms are located in Market Street Park at the corner of Front
and Market Streets (between locations 15 and 16.)
1812 MEMORIAL PARK
Street (Opposite the Post Office)
This was a defense battery during the War of 1812 and the site
is marked by a granite monument placed by the National Society,
U.S. Daughters of 1812. Four large guns on the upper ramps were
contributed by the government. Between them is a small gun believed
taken from a pirate vessel abandoned in the creek. A three-inch
naval gun on the lower terrace, used during World War I, was placed
by the American Legion in 1930.
Owned and restored by the Colonel David Hall Chapter, DAR, this
historic house is an early type of Dutch house built about 1739.
According to legend, it is here that Jerome Bonaparte, brother
of Napoleon, and his bride Betsy, found refuge on a stormy night
in 1803 when their ship had put into Lewes harbor for repairs.
Betsy is remembered locally for refusing to be seated at a bountiful
roast goose dinner until her silver candlesticks had been brought
from the disabled ship.
Pilottown Road (Private Home)
Major Henry Fisher, the pilot patriot, built Fisher's Paradise
between 1780 and 1790. Fisher, a fervent patriot, figures prominently
in Lewes' colorful history. At the request of the postwardens
of Philadelphia, he selected the site for the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse.
It was major Fisher who informed the Continental Congress and
George Washington that Lord Howe's fleet had been sighted off
Cape Henlopen and was headed toward the Chesapeake. He was empowered
by Congress to raise a company of 100 men for the defense of the
Cape and the river country; he armed them at his own expense.
Fisher's daughter sold the house to Colonel Samuel Boyer Davis
who lived there when he commanded the town's defense in the War
deVRIES MONUMENT AND FORT SITE
In 1631 on this site, 28 Dutch settlers under the direction of
deVries established the whaling colony of Zwaanendael and erected
a fort. The following spring, Indians burned the stockade and
massacred the settlers. Although the ill-fated settlement endured
only briefly, its existence was significant in Delaware's becoming
a separate State.
Monument honoring the significance of the settlement was erected
in the center of what was once the North bastion of the fort (apparently
by coincidence). In 1964 members of the Sussex Society of Archaeology
and History found the postmold patterns of the South bastion as
sketched by deVries. This discovery culminated several years of
effort to determine the exact location of the fort.
THE RODNEY HOUSE
Probably the oldest building remaining in the first block of Second
Street, it stood for many years as a near neighbor to the Burton-Ingram
House which was relocated in 1962 to the Historic Complex. The
structure and an adjoining building at the corner formed the store
and residence of the family of Henry Fisher Rodney (1800-1869).
A daughter, Miss Lydia, conducted a private school for children
in the building before she and others of her family left Lewes
in 1869 to establish an Episcopal girls' school in Portland, Oregon.
Many features of the building attest to its age and durability
- from the cellar up to the attic.
OLD FIRE HOUSE
Third and Chestnut Streets
The former Lewes Fire Station and Jail is located at the corner
of West Third and Chestnut Streets. The property was conveyed
to the Commissioners of Lewes in 1897, and the principal building
was erected at that time, with the north side being added later.
The structure served as the Lewes Firehouse and Lock-up (jail)
until the Fire Company moved to its present location on Savannah
Road c. 1920.
building at one time served as the Lewes Town Office, a school
house, a Boy Scout Center, and a meeting hall for the Lewes Jaycees.
During World War II, the building housed prisoners of war.
CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK
mile east of Lewes near the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal
The variety of outdoor activities available in the 4,013 acres
of sandy peninsula causes it to be one of the area's main
attractions for young and old alike. Swimmers, surf fishermen
and birders can enjoy long hours spent on the shore of
the Atlantic Ocean or at the park's point parking lot.
Other recreational activities may be pursued at the tennis
courts, basketball courts, hockey and softball fields,
nature trails, and the eighteen-hole disc gold course.
Programs and activities for adults and children are offered.
Campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
For information, write Cape Henlopen State Park, 42 Cape
Henlopen Drive, Lewes, DE 19958, or call (302) 645-8983.