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Dutch-American Heritage Day to be celebrated at Zwaanendael Museum Nov. 18

November 14, 2017

The Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes will celebrate Dutch-American Heritage Day from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, with a series of Dutch-inspired activities that will be both educational and entertaining for every member of the family.

Activities will include Dutch crafts, historical information and, at 2 p.m., a lecture titled “An Overview of the Environmental History of the Delmarva Peninsula,” presented by historic-site interpreter Alan Roth. Admission to all activities is free and open to the public.

Note: The environmental history lecture will be held on the museum's second floor, with entry via staircase; there is no elevator. Due to space restrictions, reservations for the lecture are required. To reserve a space, call 302-645-1148 by Friday, Nov. 17.

Dutch-American Heritage Day commemorates Nov. 16, 1776, the day when the American warship Andrew Doria sailed into the harbor of the Dutch island of St. Eustatius in the West Indies. Only four months before, the United States had declared its independence from Great Britain. The American crew was delighted when the governor of the island, Johannes de Graaf, ordered that his fort's cannons be fired in a friendly salute. This salute, the first ever given by a foreign power to the flag of the United States, was a risky and courageous act. The British, angered by Dutch trade and contraband with the rebellious colonies, seized St. Eustatius a few years later. De Graaf's welcoming First Salute was a sign of respect that continues to symbolize the deep ties of friendship that exist between the United States and the Netherlands.

The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state's first European colony, 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 town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features a stepped facade gable with carved stonework and decorated shutters. The museum's exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history.