“Priceless things matter not for their value, but because they offer us an enduring reminder of stability and permanence.” – Barbara Taylor Bradford
A Significant Title
Lewes, DE – When you have something that can be qualified as antique, you know right away that it’s probably something that’s very valuable, right? And if that something also happens to be in mint condition, that just adds to its value. But, what if that something happened to be a town? A small town, more precisely? Would you still consider it valuable? We can tell you that we, your travel maniacs at HopAmerica.com have found a small town nestled in Delaware that has a very long history; a town that exists today as one of the oldest and most beautiful places we’ve come across since we’ve been in this business. So, without further a due, we give you Lewes, DE.
Tracing its origins back to 1631 (we know, right?), Lewes started off as a result of a whale-oil colony established along the western shores of the Delaware Bay by a group of two-dozen men who had sailed from Holland to the New World. First named Swanendael, or Valley of the Swans in Dutch, the town was initially a fort. However, a misunderstanding between the native people and the colonists resulted in a massacre and the destruction of the fort. Today, because of the initial colonization of Swanendael, Lewes prides itself in claiming to be “the First Town in the First State.”
Over The Years (Centuries)
William Penn was granted the three lower counties that now comprise Delaware as part of his Pennsylvania territory by 1682. Penn’s decision was to bestow the name Sussex upon the southernmost county, after his home province in England. Similarly, he also renamed Deale as Lewes after the port city in Sussex, England. Over the years, the town thrived thanks to the many people that arrived and merchants who set up their shops. Lewes became a busy port where ships would restock supplies, and churches and a courthouse were also built.
However, the menhaden business bottomed out by the 1960s. Sadly, the fish that had produced an entire industry disappeared, taking with it the companies that relied on it. A monumental change for Lewes was marked by the loss of both that industry and a thriving clam factory. What followed was a slow period for Lewes, one that, fortunately, transformed from 1990 to 2000, when some 700 additional full-time residents moved to Lewes to make it their permanent home. Because of that, the population grew to just over 2,900, according to the 2000 census.
Lewes, DE – Nope, We Ain’t Spoilin’ The Surprise
The situation hasn’t changed much according to the 2013 census; Lewes has been successfully transformed from a community of fishermen and whalers to one that is equally dependent on the sea, though in a significantly different way. Nearly four centuries of history helped Lewes fuel a 20-year tourism growth spurt. Quaint cottages amid the sand dunes have been replaced with picturesque beach homes, and boutiques and bistros have taken the place of mom-and-pop stores and hardware stores. A new wave of residents came to this beautiful small town in search of a lack of urban crime, lower taxes and an overall slower-paced lifestyle.
Lewes is today home to a large fleet of charter fishing boats, in addition to remaining an East Coast port of call. Similarly, it is also the base of the Delaware Bay and River Pilot Association, whose members are responsible for guiding cargo vessels to and from the ports of Philadelphia and Wilmington. This town is also the southern terminal for the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, and is the home of the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies. It can be said that the history of this town alone is reason enough to visit it, not to mention everything else it has to offer. And when it comes to that everything else, take our word for it – it’s going to be something you’re going to want to discover on your own. After all, we wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, now, would we?