“Our town is very resilient. We have been through a number of storms, some large, some small, but the town has always bounced back,” says Nancy Alexander, director of the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society and Museum. That is the theme which runs through the latest exhibition, Angry Water, curated by Alexander, Paula Roberts and intern Lauren Thornberg.
The exhibition tells the story of a seaside village (Rehoboth area) and its volatile relationship with the ocean. It chronicles the impact storms have taken on the town, beach and boardwalk, telling the story of famous shipwrecks and demonstrating how the community reacted with the Cape Henlopen lighthouse, several life saving stations and beach replenishment and rebuilding projects. Of course, an entire case has been dedicated to the Storm of 1962.
The exhibition documents more than a dozen shipwrecks the Rehoboth area has seen starting with the Faithful Steward in 1785. The most recent shipwreck occurred in 1956 when the Black Spoonbill, owned by the late signer Burl Ives, ran aground. Are we overdue for a shipwreck? Probably not, says Alexander, who credits radar for preventing such calamities.
The exhibition will feature an actual Breeches buoy, used years ago to rescue crew members from shipwrecks. Also from the years of shipwrecks come a fascinating collection of coins, including Irish coins believed to have originated from the Faithful Steward.
Visitors will learn about how many times the boardwalk has been rebuilt because of storm damage, how “Coin Beach” got its name and the origins of the Cape Henlopen lighthouse and the local life saving stations.
“The Delaware experience has been equally famous and infamous and the museum is excited to gather these stories and history into this new exhibition,” Alexander added.
The museum is at 511 Rehoboth Ave., next to the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. During the summer, the museum is open Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. Admission is by voluntary donation. For more information, visit www.rehobothbeachmuseum.org or call (302) 227-7310.
The Rehoboth Beach and Lewes historical societies are teaming up to tell the story of life saving stations and their role in local history. On Thursday, June 8, beginning at 1 p.m., program participants will be treated to a tour of a home in downtown Lewes that was once the Rehoboth Beach life saving station, followed by a tour of the restored Lewes life saving station, situated near the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. Space is limited to 15 participants. The cost of the tour is $12, pre-paid. Please call (302) 227-7310 to make a reservation.
Photo courtesy Rehoboth Beach Historical Society