OVHS adds Evans-West house to the National Registry


Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The Ocean View Historical Society has added the Evans-West house to the National Registry of Historic Places.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The Ocean View Historical Society has added the Evans-West house to the National Registry of Historic Places.The Ocean View Historical Society has successfully had a second home listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

Last month, the Evans-West house, which is to be donated to the society by a local family in March 2017, was placed on the National Registry following the unanimous approval by the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation in April 2015.

“The Department of Interior has to approve the application, and it took about nine months,” explained Richard Nippes of the Ocean View Historical Society. “We got notified maybe a month ago that the house is on the National Registry, and the barn and the shed are considered contributory assets.”

The Division of Historic & Cultural Affairs stated the Evans-West house “is a significant vernacular-interpretation of the Gothic Revival style of architecture. Minimally altered since its construction in 1901, the house and associated barn, storage shed and star-shaped daffodil garden, represent an early-20th-century domestic complex which is not duplicated in Ocean View or the surrounding area.”

The home’s barn has been restored, said Nippes; however, the society hopes to replace its roof with cedar shakes.

“It’s leaking to some degree, but not enough that we need to worry about it immediately. It’s expensive to put a roof on — not to mention a cedar-shake roof,” he said, adding that the society is in the process of looking into fundraising to pay for the expense.

Later this month, the OVHS will meet with a representative from the Delaware District of Cultural Affairs to get recommendations on what it would take to turn the home into a museum, which would focus on the history of the Baltimore Hundred.

“That’s still being worked on by the committee at this stage of the game,” noted Nippes, adding that representatives from Ocean View, Fenwick Island, South Bethany, Bethany Beach and Millville serve on the Coastal Towns Museum committee.

On Jan. 21, the OVHS will go before the Ocean View Board of Adjustment, seeking a special-use exception for the residentially-zoned property to be used as a museum.

“We’re just starting a lot of preliminary things, so we’re ready to roll in March of 2017,” he said. “We’re starting the process, and depending on what modifications are recommended, we will start raising funds to do that, so that when we officially take ownership we will have the money available to make those changes as quickly as possible.”

Along with the main house, the Tunnell-West complex boasts an 1800s outhouse; the town’s first post office, built in 1889; and an exact replica of Cecile Steele’s first chicken house. And in addition to the Evans-West House, OVHS also plans to build a new Hall’s Store, a replica of a country store from the early 19th century, on its historic complex behind the Tunnell-West House.

“What’s going to be unique about that — it’s not going to be a very big building, but it’s going to be a replica of Hall’s Store. As you know, Hall’s Store was built around 1820, and it was a little store that gave birth to the town of Ocean View.

“We don’t have a picture of it, and nobody knows of any pictures of it,” Nippes said. “We’ve come up with pictures of old stores and our architect has drawn what he thinks the old store would look like. When we are able to raise the money, we will build that. The back part of it will be a classroom that we can use to bring students in and host lectures.”

Nippes said it will take an estimated $250,000 to build the replica Hall’s Store and that the society is gearing up for its future fundraising campaign.

“We’re working on fundraising events; we’re working on applying for grants; we’re working on getting tax credits,” he explained. “I have gotten some tax credits for money we spent on the Tunnell-West House. And we will, hopefully, be receiving those funds in the early part this year, because when they get bought, the company that buys them can use them for their tax purposes and we get the money.”

To commemorate the Evans-West House being placed on the National Registry, Nippes said the society will most likely place a plaque on the house — similar to that on the Tunnell-West House.

“We’re excited that it’s on the National Registry. It’s a beautiful house. It will make an excellent exhibit or museum.”

Those who are interested in donating to the Ocean View Historical Society may mail donations to the Ocean View Historical Society, P.O. Box 576, Ocean View, DE 19970.

For more information regarding the Ocean View Historical Society and upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org. The Tunnell-West historic complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View.