Lewes Historical Society

Lewes, Delaware | C.1665

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson

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In the city of Lewes, many houses contain brick, some are built of wood, but only one holds a lodged cannonball. The “Cannonball House,” so named for the small cannonball still stuck in its brick foundation, recalls when the small community was bombarded by the British naval fleet during the War of 1812. This house, and many structures in the surrounding area, are the prized possessions of the Lewes Historical Society (LHS).

Formed in the 1960s by a group of preservationists who would not sit idly by as many historic homes in the area were being torn down, the LHS has sought to preserve the city’s impactful history and connect the past with the present beach town. While some historical societies may have one headquarters to call home, this city’s historical society has a whole campus—a testament to their decades-long effort to share Lewes’ history.

Along with the Cannonball House, the collection of important structures consists of a blacksmith shop, an old school house, the Hiram Rodney house (still located on the same spot it has inhabited since 1720), and others that help tell the story of this settlement. With most of the society’s inventory lined up aside each other, the buildings create a small town of their own, honoring the past generations of Lewes residents. Most notable is the Burton-Ingram house, the group’s first house-saving purchase accomplished in 1962.

From when it was first inhabited by Dutch settlers in 1631, the “first city of the first state” has quite the story to tell, and the historical society seeks to spread the word. A curious visitor only needs to “cannonball” into this cultural pool teeming with history.

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