Lewes : History

by Dave on June 20, 2008

From The State Web Site:

The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European settlement, Swanendael, established by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631.Designed by E. William Martin (architect of Legislative Hall and the Hall of Records in Dover), the museum is modeled after the old stadthuis (City Hall) in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features typical 17th century Dutch design elements including a stepped facade gable, terra-cotta (baked clay) roof tiles, carved stonework, and decorated shutters.

The very top of the building’s front features a sandstone statue of David Petersen DeVries, leader of the expedition that founded Swanendael. The face of the building is decorated with intricate sandstone carvings, including the coat of arms of the city of Hoorn.The museum’s exhibits and presentations illustrate the rich history of Sussex County by highlighting its maritime connections and by telling the stories of the people who lived and worked along Delaware’s southeastern coast. The first floor of the museum re-opened in April 2006 with an exciting exhibit, “Lewes: The First Town in the First State.” The second floor is now open with a new exhibit, “Rediscovery through Recovery: Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck Site,” which offers a look into the fascinating world of maritime archaeology.

To learn more about Lewes, Cape Henlopen, Delaware Bay, and the rich history of the region, go to Homework Help in our online Education Center. Current First Floor Exhibit: “Lewes: The First Town In The First State”Lewes: The First Town In The First State” showcases over 11,000 years of Lewes culture beginning with the original Native American residents, through the period of European colonization, the American Revolutionary War, the birth of the United States as a nation, and the War of 1812. The exhibit utilizes a historic timeline to tell Lewes’ story, supported by an array of artifacts, maps, sketches, lithographs, and photographs of period buildings.

In 2006, the exhibit was presented in conjunction with the Lewes & Delaware 375th Anniversary Celebration, a series of exhibits and events commemorating Lewes’ distinction as the first European settlement in Delaware. The founding of Swanendael (present-day Lewes) in 1631 by a small group of Dutch settlers set in motion a course of events as complex and intriguing as any in colonial America. From competing claims by William Penn and Lord Baltimore regarding ownership of the western coastline of Delaware Bay, to raids, burnings, and court decisions, the small settlement of Swanendael provided the legal basis for the establishment of Delaware as a geographically distinct place-and ultimately to take its spot as “The First State.”

Current Second Floor Exhibit: “Rediscovery through Recovery: Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck Site”

A selection of artifacts recovered from the Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck site is now on display at the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, Delaware. The exhibit, entitled “Rediscovery Through Recovery,” showcases the shipwreck and its cargo, while at the same time, explaining the multi-faceted processes utilized in archaeological and historical research.

The vessel, thought to be the remains of the British commercial ship Severn, is the oldest-known shipwreck discovered in Delaware waters. It provides a unique opportunity to study the economic relationships between the British Empire and its American colonies in the years immediately before the American Revolution.

In order to logically showcase a representative sampling of the tens of thousands of artifacts that have been recovered from the shipwreck, “Rediscovery Through Recovery” will be presented through a series of changing exhibits. Augmented by community meetings and hands-on archaeological programs, each of these exhibits will focus on a different archaeological and/or historical topic associated with the ship and the time period in which it sailed.

The first of these exhibits focuses on ceramics, the largest category of material culture recovered from the shipwreck. In particular, stonewares provide a backdrop for discussions on trans-Atlantic commerce and the extensive economic networks that made Delaware’s colonial society an integral part of the British Empire with strong links to the complex cultures that made up the Atlantic world of the 1770s.

This was copied from State of Delaware website.

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