Lovers of Delaware history may find plenty to love in the latest free lecture to hit Ocean View courtesy of the Ocean View Historical Society. The presentation will be given by Russ McCabe, former director of the Delaware Public Archives, and will be held on Wednesday, March 30, at 7 p.m.
“He has a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable Delaware historians. And one of the most colorful storytellers,” said Carol Psaros, president of the society. “We’re very lucky that he can make the time out of his schedule. He’s quite busy with a lot of historical groups. He’s quite generous with his time, so we’re quite grateful he’s going to speak to us.”
McCabe will speak on the early history and settlement of Delmarva, and how it was shaped by political, religious and cultural events.
“He worked at the Delaware Public Archives for over 30 years and was the director for many years. He knows all aspects of Delaware history. We’re just so thrilled to have him,” Psaros said. “He has deep Delaware roots. His great grandmother was an Evans. She was from Ocean View. In fact, she was married in 1894 at the Ocean View Presbyterian Church, which is the oldest church building in what is now Ocean View.
“It’s not to say that people didn’t congregate before then, in homes, under trees, at country stores, for services, but the Ocean View Presbyterian Church was the first church built in Ocean View, followed by Mariners church shortly thereafter.”
The free lecture will be held at Ocean View Town Hall. Light refreshments will be served, and all are welcome to attend; however, space is limited.
Psaros said the lecture will kick off the historical society’s spring season, which will also include Ocean View Homecoming on May 14. Although the society no longer oversees the event, their historic complex will be open for tours during the event.
Adjacent to John West Park, the historic complex is home to the Tunnell-West house; an 1800s outhouse; the town’s first post office, built in 1889; and an exact replica of Cecile Steele’s first chicken house.
“Right after that, we’ll start our summer open-houses every Wednesday afternoon from 1 to 4. We have a busy spring season coming up, and we’re looking forward to warmer weather, being outside to celebrate the past and Ocean View’s history,” said Psaros.
Along with their Wednesday open-houses, the society often hosts local groups at the complex, including students from Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
“We do anticipate that there will be Lord Baltimore students coming, and possibly others. We do have other groups that have things reserved. In April, we have two groups coming — a group from the Ocean View CHEER Center and a group of students who are in the University of Delaware Lifelong Learning class,” she said. “All the time, we’re expanding our service to groups in the area. To date, we don’t charge groups … although we have always accepted donations.”
The society will remain busy in the fall months, with its annual fall fundraiser on Sept. 17, which they hope to have at Ocean View Church of Christ.
Then, on Oct. 5, Michael DiPaolo, executive director of the Lewes Historical Society will present a free lecture on old-time baseball.
“Michael DiPaolo is a member of an old-time baseball team, and one of our board members Mike Read, is the umpire for that old-time baseball league,” said Psaros. “Michael DiPaolo is going to talk about the rules of old-time baseball and will be there in his old-time uniform. That should be a good lecture.”
Psaros added that the society is also considering offering a cemetery tour in the fall as well.
“That just gives you a glimpse of what’s coming up,” she said.
At the end of 2016, the society will also begin working on a capital campaign to raise funds to construct Hall’s Store, a replica of a country store from the early 19th century.
In 2017, the society will take ownership of the Evans-West house, located near the historic complex, which they plan to turn into the Coastal Towns Museum.
“In order to bring that to fruition, we need more money, to raise funds to build whole store and also to create the coastal towns museum. Our membership we are delighted is growing… But that’s not going to support starting to new buildings.”
Psaros said the society is always looking for new members and volunteers, as the organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Those who wish to join may inquire online or by filling out a membership form at one of the society’s many public events.
Membership, said Psaros, does come with perks aside from the tax deduction.
“You do get a break on some of our events… For instance, for our fall fundraiser, there’s a membership price and a non-member price,” she said. “We frequently reach the capacity of the town hall. So, we’re now saying if the room reaches its capacity, current members will get preference.”
Psaros said the society is excited to be bringing dynamic speakers, such as McCabe, to its public lectures and hopes the community will continue to support their efforts in keeping local history alive.
“We do have a lot of neat events on the horizon in the spring through the fall. So we’re excited to get rid of the snow and move into spring.”
For more information regarding the Ocean View Historical Society, visit www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org. Ocean View Town Hall is located at 32 Central Avenue in Ocean View.