Zwaanendael Museum

Zwaanendael Museum

De Vries Monument

De Vries Monument

Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse

Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse

Fenwick Island Lighthouse

Fenwick Island Lighthouse

Old Sussex County Court House

Old Sussex County Court House

Prince George's Chapel

Prince George's Chapel

For generations, vacationers have been drawn to Delaware's Atlantic Ocean resorts—Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island. Located within 250 miles of several of the nation's largest metropolitan areas including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City, the First State's coastal towns offer the cleanest beach-water in the nation, a plethora of dining options, arts and entertainment activities, recreational opportunities, natural areas, state parks, night life and tax-free shopping among many other amenities.

As the location of Delaware's first colony and one of the earliest European settlements in America—Swanendael, established by the Dutch in present-day Lewes in 1631—the coastal region also features a wealth of historic sites that help tell Delaware's story and the role that it played in the creation and development of the United States. Many of these sites are open for visitation, offering high-quality experiences for every type of vacationer from families looking for rainy-day activities to dedicated cultural tourists and history buffs.

Following is a sampling of some of the historic places that can be visited within a 20-mile radius of Delaware's Atlantic Ocean beaches. Hours of operation and other information can be found on each site's webpage.

De Vries Monument
Pilottown Road, Lewes, Del.
Telephone: Call the Zwaanendael Museum at 302-645-1148

Delaware's Colonial history began near this site which commemorates Swanendael, meaning "Valley of the Swans," established by the Dutch in 1631 as a whale-hunting and agricultural station. The monument, located along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal (originally called Hoorn Kill), is named for David Pietersz de Vries, general administrator of the Swanendael colony.

Zwaanendael Museum
102 Kings Highway, Lewes, Del.
Telephone: 302-645-1148

Operated by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state's first European colony, Swanendael. Modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, the museum's exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history. Currently on-display are the exhibits "Delaware and the War of 1812" which examines the service and sacrifice of Delawareans of 1812 to 1815; and "A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World" which explores His Majesty's Sloop of War DeBraak, a British warship that sank off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. On most Mondays through Oct. 21, 2013, the museum is also offering lecture/tours of DeBraak which include a trip to nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a curator-led tour of the surviving section of the ship's hull.

As the administrator of many of the state's most important historic sites, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs leases the following properties to community organizations that in turn, operate them for public visitation.

Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse
Surrounded by water, the lighthouse is located on the inner breakwater in Lewes harbor.
Telephone: 302-644-7046

The lighthouse was built in 1885 as a navigational aid for ships entering the Delaware Bay. Guided tours of the site are conducted by the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation.

Fenwick Island Lighthouse
Located at the intersection of 146th St. and Lighthouse Lane, Fenwick Island, Del.
Telephone: 302-436-8100

Built in 1858 to protect shipping from the Fenwick sand shoals that extend several miles out from the Delaware coast, the lighthouse sits exactly on the eastern origin of the Mason-Dixon Line. The site is operated by the New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.

Old Sussex County Court House
10 S. Bedford St., Georgetown, Del.
Telephone: 302-855-9660
Operated by the Georgetown Historical Society. Open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays through Oct. 1, 2013. Open other times by appointment.

In 1791, the Sussex County seat was moved from Lewes to Georgetown in order to provide a more centralized location for county governmental and judicial functions. In 1793, the building now known as the Old Sussex County Court House was constructed in Georgetown to meet the exact dimensions of the former county court house in Lewes. In 1837, the building was moved from its original location on Georgetown Circle to make way for the current court house which still occupies the site. It is now operated by the Georgetown Historical Society.

Prince George's Chapel
101 Chapel Lane, Dagsboro, Del.
Operated by the Friends of Prince George's Chapel. Open by appointment by calling 302-732-3551.

Built in 1755 as an Anglican chapel-of-ease, the structure was named in honor of the English prince who would later become King George III. Its most distinctive feature is a barrel-vaulted ceiling made of natural, unadorned heart-of-pine planks. It is now operated by the Friends of Prince George's Chapel.

Other attractions featuring Delaware history that are located within 20 miles of Delaware's beaches include the Bethany Beach History Museum, DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum, Fort Miles Historical Area in Cape Henlopen State Park, Indian River Life-Saving Station, Lewes Historical Society, Lightship Overfalls, Milton Historical Society, Nanticoke Indian Museum, Nutter D. Marvel Carriage Museum, Ocean View Historical Society, Rehoboth Art League, Rehoboth Beach Museum and the Treasures of the Sea exhibit. In addition, the towns of Lewes and Milton contain historic districts that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Curt Stickel

Historic-site interpreter Curt Stickel reading the Declaration of Independence in front of Dover's Old State House.

During the month of July 2013, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 16 special programs at the six museums that it operates across the state.

Highlights of the month include Independence Day celebrations at Dover's Old State House featuring screenings of "Thunder and Rain," a film about Caesar Rodney's historic ride for independence; plus the ringing of the historic building's bell followed by site interpreters, dressed in period clothing, who will recite the Declaration of Independence aloud from the spot where the document was first read to the citizens of Dover in 1776.

On July 6, Dover's Johnson Victrola Museum will present "'Stars and Stripes Forever,' A John Philip Sousa Tribute" featuring tours exploring Sousa's life accompanied by recordings of the noted bandmaster played on authentic Victor Talking Machines, while on Wednesdays throughout the month, Dover's John Dickinson Plantation will be offering "Weaving Wednesdays" workshops in which visitors will learn how to weave a blanket or rag rug.

Go to the following for a complete listing of events. Except where noted, programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.


Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.

On July 27, 2013 at 9 a.m., Noon and 3 p.m., U.S. military members are invited to attend free lecture/tours of the hull of His Majesty's Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Normally $10 per person, free tickets for the July 27 tours are available for current and former members of the U.S. military and their families (restricted to persons aged 10 and above). Tickets are available through the Shop Delaware website. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

All programs begin at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., where a lecture on the ship will be presented in conjunction with "A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World," an exhibit that has been on display at the museum since Dec. 1, 2012. The exhibit tells the story of the vessel, its crew and the historical context within which it operated in the late 18th century. Ticket holders will then be transported, via van, to the DeBraak hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a curator-led tour of the surviving section of the ship's hull.

This special offering is part of the Blue Star Museums program, a vehicle for outreach to members of the United States armed forces. A collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 1,800 museums across America, the program offers free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2013.

Debbie Lamb

Debbie Lamb, C-SPAN coordinating producer, speaks at the kickoff ceremony at the Dover Public Library on June 18, 2013. Listening (from left) are Dover City Councilman David L. Bonar, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin; Sean Looney, Comcast vice president for state government affairs; R. Thomas Worley, Comcast senior director for government regulatory affairs; and Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey, Sr.

On July 20 and 21, 2013, C-SPAN, the public-affairs television network, will be broadcasting a series of television stories and segments on the literary life and history of Dover, Del. The programs will be broadcast on non-fiction book channel BookTV (on C-SPAN2) and history channel American History TV (on C-SPAN3). Topics that will be covered include interviews with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey, Sr., Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs' Curator of Archaeology Chuck Fithian and a number of Dover-area writers; and segments on The Old State House, John Dickinson Plantation, Johnson Victrola Museum, Delaware Public Archives, Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover Air Force Base and several others.

Video crews were in Dover during the week of June 17, 2013 filming the television segments as part of C-SPAN's 2013 Cities Tour, a partnership with Comcast Cable that takes the network's Book TV and American History TV on the road. From its debut in 2011 to date, the C-SPAN Cities Tour has visited 31 cities including Dover, Del.; Tampa/St. Petersburg; Savannah, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Frankfort, Ky.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Baton Rouge, La.; Beaumont, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Wichita, Kan.; Jefferson City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Columbus, Ohio; Augusta, Maine; Montpelier, Vt; Albany, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Alexandria, Va.; Mesa, Ariz.; Virginia Beach, Va.; Yuma, Ariz.; Columbia, Ariz.; Palm Springs, Calif.; Raleigh, N.C. and Bakersfield, Ca.

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with C-SPAN, Comcast and the City of Dover, helped organize the many logistics associated with filming at the respective sites around the city including a kickoff ceremony that was held on Tuesday, June 18 at the Dover Public Library.

Created by the cable TV industry and now serving 100 million TV households, C-SPAN programs three public-affairs television networks in both standard-definition and high-definition video; C-SPAN Radio, heard in Washington D.C. and nationwide via XM Satellite Radio; and a video-rich website which hosts the C-SPAN Video Library.

Go to the following for a press account of C-SPAN's visit to Dover:

C-SPAN visits Dover: telling the tales of the nation's smaller cities
Dover Post, DE—June 21, 2013
Television segments on the city's history and literary life will be broadcast on July 20 and 21, 2013.

Chuck Fithian

Chuck Fithian

On June 14, 2013, Chuck Fithian, curator of archaeology for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, made a presentation at "From Enemies to Allies: An International Conference on the War of 1812 and its Aftermath" that took place at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. from June 12 to 15, 2013. The conference was held in conjunction with the exhibit "Seas, Lakes & Bay: The Naval War of 1812" that has been on display at the Naval Academy since April.

Fithian's talk, entitled "'For the Common Defense,' 'Infernals,' and a 'Maraudering Species of War': The War of 1812 in Delaware," examined the service and sacrifice of Delawareans of 1812 to 1815, and the important role that the state played in a conflict that helped shaped the development of the United States. The presentation was well received by the audience which included War of 1812 scholars from across the nation and the world.

Go to the following to read the text of Fithian's presentation.