Here at the Oldfather Group, we certainly pride ourselves on what we do. We sell real estate in one of the most visually appealing areas of the United States, and we excel at it because we love what we do and we hire people who feel the same way.
And speaking of our area, we have some of the nicest residential developments in the mid-Atlantic region right here in coastal Delaware.
Some are at the beach, some are further inland. Some are gated, some are not. Some have a large number of amenities, some are just nice places to call home.
All are in a very special area of the world, one that we’re extremely proud to call home.
But it addition to the fine homes that define the real estate market at the Delaware beaches, there are also several architectural marvels that highlight the region.
Each town in southern Delaware seems to have that one spot that people always remember, whether they live here or are just visiting – that one place that is unmistakably Rehoboth, or Lewes, or Georgetown, or Seaford or any other town in Sussex County.
We thought we’d take a look at some of them here today, town by town. Now in many cases, there may be more than one signature work of architecture that defines our cities and towns, but we’ve chosen our favorite in each municipality so that we can highlight as many as possible.
So let’s get started, with our most historic area – the “First Town in the First State.”
Lewes (Zwaanendael Museum) – You’re not likely to miss this towering structure on the corner of Kings Highway and Savannah Road in downtown Lewes, and that’s kind of the point. Built in 1931 to commemorate the 300-year anniversary of Sussex County’s first European settlement, the museum resembles the town hall in the city of Hoorn, in the Netherlands. Hoorn is the hometown of David Pietersen deVries, the leader of that failed expedition in 1631. Today, the museum houses artifacts of the town’s history, dating all the way back to those early days in the 17th century. For our purposes here today, however, it’s a beautiful and unique piece of architecture that helps define life in Lewes.
Rehoboth Beach (Dolles) – There are many people, places and things that people remember after a trip to the “Nation’s Summer Capital” of Rehoboth Beach. But examine any photo of the city’s famous boardwalk and it’s clear why Dolles is our choice for Rehoboth’s most famous landmark. Towering above the one-mile boardwalk is the orange, cursive Dolles sign for which the city is most well known, advertising to everyone not only the business, but also the very fact that you’re in Rehoboth Beach. Dolles has been around for generations and it will likely be around for generations more. We wouldn’t have it any other way!
Dewey Beach (Bottle & Cork) – Known as much for its nightlife as its sandy beaches and cool ocean breezes, there’s one bar/club that stands out above all the rest in this southern Delaware beach town, and that’s the Bottle & Cork. The self-proclaimed “greatest rock and roll bar in the world,” the Bottle & Cork hosts dozens of top name performers each and every summer and is known throughout the region for being the “go to place” (along with the Freeman Stage in Fenwick Island) in coastal Delaware for great entertainment. Located on Route 1 in the heart of the resort, the Bottle & Cork is definitely Dewey Beach’s most well known landmark.
Bethany Beach (Indian Totem Pole) – There’s no questioning when you’ve entered the southern Delaware resort town of Bethany Beach – Chief Little Owl makes sure of it. Welcoming visitors to Bethany Beach since 1976, this 24-foot-tall totem pole was constructed by Peter Wolf Toth (though this is actually the third version of the totem pole) and has stood watch over the beach resort for more than four decades. This is the only item on our list that is not an actual building, but Chief Little Owl is so famous around these parts, that he just had to be included here as the most iconic symbol of Bethany Beach.
Fenwick Island (Fenwick Island Lighthouse) – Towering over Fenwick Island, and straddling the Transpeninsular Line separating Delaware from Maryland, this 87-foot-tall lighthouse is the only one in coastal Delaware today that is accessible by land. It dates back to 1858 and stayed in service until it was decommissioned in 1978. It is unquestionably the most recognizable structure in Fenwick Island, and also the most historic.
Milton (Milton Theater) – One of two theaters on our list, the historic Milton Theater on Union Street has had quite the storied history and is our choice for Milton’s most recognizable structure. Dating back to 1939, the iconic theater has played host to movies, and plays, and special events and much more during it’s day. It was closed for many years, but is today overseen by a committed group of volunteers who are determined never to see it abandoned again. Even all these decades later, this grand old lady of the theater is still the jewel of Milton’s downtown district.
Georgetown (Sussex County Courthouse) – Nestled on the southeast corner of the town’s famous Circle, the Sussex County Courthouse is not only the unquestioned visual centerpiece of Georgetown, but also of the entire county. It was built between 1837 and 1840 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Featured in countless newspaper stories, magazine articles and tourism publications over the years, the courthouse is today one of the most viewed and photographed buildings in all of southern Delaware. It’s also sort of a “gateway” to the beach, for folks travelling to Lewes or Rehoboth.
Dagsboro (Clayton Theater) – Entering downtown Dagsboro, you can’t help but notice the historic Clayton Theater, the state of Delaware’s only remaining single-screen movie theater and a reminder of simpler times in this small, Sussex County town. Built just three years after the end of World War II, the Clayton is a living testament to the glory days of the movie industry. It’s still family owned and operated, meaning you’ll likely get the personal touch when you attend a movie at the Clayton. With its neon pink and green lights and it’s old-time façade, the Clayton is our choice for Dagsboro’s most recognizable and treasured landmark.
Seaford (Governor Ross Mansion) – Our choice for Seaford’s most recognizable structure is the historic mansion of Gov. William Henry Harrison Ross, the man responsible for bringing the railroad to Sussex County. Also a southern sympathizer during the Civil War, the governor’s mansion and plantation in western Sussex County still stands as a testament to this era in American history. The Seaford Historical Society owns the Ross Mansion and it’s grounds play host to several events each year. It’s a true one-of-a-kind piece of architecture in southern Delaware.
Laurel (Old Christ Church) – It’s no big mystery why our choices in western Sussex County seem to be more historic in nature – there’s simply more history in this part of the county. And there’s no building more historic than Old Christ Church, located just outside the town of Laurel. Dating back to pre-Revolutionary War days, the church has stood the test of time. Still with no electricity or running water, it remains open to the public on Sundays during the spring and summer and is also a popular spot for weddings and special events. There are many buildings in Laurel that are historic in nature, but Old Christ Church is our choice for the most historic and the most iconic.
So what do you think? Do you agree with our choices? Would you like to offer up some suggestions of your own?
We’d love to hear what you have to say on the subject.