In the last decade, the grounds of The Lewes Historical Society have gone from a sleepy corner of town to a place that welcomes over 100,000 guests a year.
“The historical society is in a lovely setting,” said Michael DiPaolo, executive director. “Our grounds have become a real community gathering place, from special events like the British Car Show and weddings, to the weekly Historic Lewes Farmers Market, to the daily visitors like nurses from Beebe on their lunch breaks and families on picnics.”
But all of that foot traffic has taken its toll. “The grounds are beautiful, but they can’t be sustained as we’re using them today,” said DiPaolo. “Anyone who walks through them can see that. Our goal is to bring the grounds back.”
Meeting that goal, however, is not as simple as just throwing down some new grass seed. The historical society trustees and staff have worked with Element Design Group of Lewes to develop a plan for the grounds that is both beautiful and practical, making the grounds sustainable with greater community use. “The plan has a heavy emphasis on native planting, environmentally friendly design, and sustainability,” said DiPaolo. “We love that people use this space in big and small ways; we want to maintain it in a way that it will be here for them for decades to come.”
To kick off the grounds project, The Lewes Historical Society is throwing a Fall Gala for the Grounds at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12. The event, underwritten by Baywood Greens, will be held on the grounds of the Historical Society Complex and includes cocktails, dinner by Gary Papp of The Essential Chef, and dancing led by DJ Norman Mullinix and dance professionals Bill and Sue Goshen. The cost is $125 per person.
“This will be a great way for people to enjoy being on the historical society’s grounds, just like the 50th Anniversary two years ago, having fun together, enjoying the end of summer, and seeing what this project will mean to our community,” said Lacy Letonoff, event chair. “The highlight of the evening will be the auctioning of Jean Doran’s stunning oil painting of the grounds that she painted for the occasion.”
In addition to Baywood Greens, the event is sponsored by Jack Lingo Realtor; Nucar’s Lewes Auto Mall; PNC Bank; the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group; Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales; Dover Rent-All - Tents and Events; Garrison Homes Inc.; Peninsula Gallery; Russ Palmer Builders; Apple Electric; Delmarva Printing Inc.; Evergreen Homes; and George H. Bunting, State Farm Insurance.
“Our sponsors see this project as a way of supporting the Lewes community,” said Libby Owen, historical society trustee. “So much happens here at the historical society, and we all want to make sure that the grounds are here and enjoyed for many years to come.”
Go to www.HistoricLewes.org or call 302-645-7670 to learn more.