Cultural History In Coastal Delaware
Every town in Delaware’s coastal region has a story to tell, and many of them can be found at museums and heritage sites up and down the coastline. Be sure to check out some of these beloved repositories and landmarks.
Anna Hazzard Museum: The Anna Hazzard Tent House, located in Rehoboth Beach, dates back to 1895. Once owned by Anna Hazzard, a local realtor, the house now serves as a museum, which features artifacts and memorabilia from the early days of Rehoboth Beach and its foundation as a religious retreat.
Delaware Aviation Museum: The Delaware Aviation Museum, located just a short drive from the beach, features a display of vintage and military aircraft and aviation artifacts. It also offers an extensive reference library and a host of yearly events aimed at educating visitors on the history of aviation.
Fenwick Island Lighthouse: Located on the border of Maryland and Delaware, the Fenwick Island Lighthouse was built in 1859, at the Transpeninsular Line separating the two states. While the lighthouse was deactivated in the late 1970s, an aggressive campaign to restore the lighthouse was launched in 1981. Today, an organization of volunteers conducts tours of the lighthouse grounds from May through October.
Fort Miles Museum: Built in the early years of World War II as a coastal defense, the Fort Miles and Historical Association and Delaware State Parks have transformed the 15,000-square-foot bunker into a museum showcasing daily life for the soldiers and civilians stationed at Fort Miles. The facility also hosts artillery demonstrations and a yearly V-J Day ceremony.
Lewes History Museum: The Lewes History Museum features exhibits, educational programs, historical research and publications of life in the Lewes region. The museum also offers a living historian in residence program, history-related events, tours and field trips.
Lewes Life-Saving Station: While the Lewes Life-Saving Station was established in 1884 as a way of assisting shipwrecked mariners, the structure has since been relocated and donated to the Lewes Historical Society. Today, the station is home to a museum on the history of the life-saving service and features displays, photographic exhibits and more.
Lightship Overfalls: Built for the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1938, the LV-118 vessel was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1972. Today, it serves as a National Historic Landmark and hosts tours and public events aimed at teaching community members about the U.S. Lighthouse Service and the area’s maritime history.
Nanticoke Indian Museum: Located just west of Rehoboth Beach, the Nanticoke Indian Museum is Delaware’s only Native American museum and one of only 13 sites within the Native American community to be listed as a National Historic Landmark. The museum features artifacts passed down from the tribe’s elders, as well as donations that have been made over the years. Display items include arrowheads, pottery, axe hammers and other homemade objects. Visitors can also view artwork, traditional clothing, a wooden canoe and more.
Treasures Of The Sea Museum: Based at Delaware Technical Community College, Treasures of the Sea Museum exhibits a collection of Spanish artifacts from the 17th century shipwreck, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. Visitors can view a 15-minute movie about the ship, search and recovery, and touch actual artifacts from the shipwreck.
Zwaanendael Museum: Located in Lewes, the Zwaanendael Museum celebrates Delaware’s first European colony, Swanendael, through its showcase of Lewes-area maritime, military and social history. The museum, modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, commemorates the founding of Delaware’s first European settlement by the Dutch in 1631. Inarguably one of the most unique structures in town, the museum features exhibits and live demonstrations.