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Stroll Through Downtown Lewes for Some Amazing Sights Part One

Last week we wrote about a few things to consider if youre interested in buying a home in the Lewes Historic District. But since the area is a wonderful place to visit regardless of where you live wed like to highlight attractions that everyone seems to enjoy.

Well start with the campus of the Lewes Historical Society. 

Its right downtown, at the end of Second Street. Its comprised of several historic buildings that have been moved to the campus from various Delaware locations. Right now, as a result of the cold weather and lingering Covid concerns, the buildings arent open to the public, but you can still stroll through the campus and learn about the buildings online and look forward to inside tours very soon.

The oldest is the Plank House, a tiny dwelling that shows you how people lived just prior to the year 1700. Its constructed with rugged timbers and built around a small fireplace for cooking and heating, and a small loft for sleeping. 

If youd like to see how wealthier residents lived in later years check out the circa 1789 Burton-Ingram House, which is constructed in a refined Federal style and filled with lovely colonial furnishings and artwork. Youll also appreciate the Hiram Rodney Burton House, built in 1720, which today stands at its original foundation and likewise reveals elegant architecture inside and out.

Other unique buildings include the one-room Midway School, complete with period desks, and the circa 1800 The Thompson Country Store, which operated in Kent County up until 1963. 

And take a stroll through Shipcarpenter Square.

Youll see prominent echoes of these homes as you walk around Shipcarpenter Square, adjacent to the campus. The neighborhood was created in the 1980s by bringing buildings that stood in other Delaware locations. The buildings were moved in various states and reassembled around a broad area laid out in a square, referred to as The Commons, which replicates an historic green.

All of the houses have been beautifully restored to showcase their 18th and 19th century origins, and modernized to suit todays lifestyles. They represent a wide array of architecture and previous uses, including Victorian homes and colonial-style farmhouses, a travelers inn, barns, a schoolhouse, a lifesaving station, a corner market and a lighthouse.

If you fall in love, you can hope that at some point youll have a chance to buy one of these beautiful homes. They dont come on the market very often, and tend to be some of the most highly priced properties in Lewes, but if you deeply appreciate historic architecture many are worth waiting for.

Final stop for today: The Ryves Holt House

Located at the intersection of Mulberry and Second Streets, the oldest building still standing in Delaware was also a house, and an inn, and today serves as a gift shop and information center thats owned and operated by the Lewes Historical Society.

The oldest section of the home was built in 1665, about 30 years after the first settlers in Lewes known as the Zwaanendael Colony, from the Netherlands, perished in a dispute with a local Native American tribe.

During its early years this portion of the home provided lodging to travelers to the New World. Ryves Holt, the first Chief Justice of Sussex County, purchased the building in 1721.

As you enter the building, its easy to see the two distinct structures that have been combined to create the current configuration. The original section to your right operated as the inn, and still retains its rustic wooden floors and moldings. On the left is the later edition, with its colonial fireplace and slightly higher ceilings. Still standing on its original foundation, this is one of the most popular and historic cultural attractions in the First State.

Next week well spotlight a few more!