Bethany museum shaping up, seeking items

Work on Bethany Beach’s town museum is proceeding apace, with the museum’s space in the town hall lobby now sporting a fresh coat of cranberry and tan paint.

Workers from museum installation firm Lynch Industries are due to complete installation of the museum’s cases, computer kiosk and display panels before a Memorial Day deadline, just in time for the town’s summer season.

Members of the town’s Cultural and Historical Affairs Committee (CHAC) met Monday, May 9, to receive those updates and to make a few decisions on matters relating to the museum and other preservation projects.

Strong support was expressed for the idea of selling replica copies of one of the town’s original land deeds as a fund-raising item once the museum is open. And, pending completion of the group’s oral history project, the computer kiosk will be used to display historical photographs in a slideshow presentation.

The committee is also working on beefing up the town’s collection of artifacts. Two donation days are planned for this month — on Wednesday, May 18, and Saturday, May 21, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The artifacts will be collected in the town hall meeting room.

The only criterion for artifacts to be added to the museum collection is that they must pertain specifically to the town of Bethany Beach. Generally applicable artifacts that pertain to regional history or to locations outside of the town will not be accepted. But all other items are fair game.

Those holding such objects, photographs, documents, etc., are being encouraged to consider donating them or loaning them to the museum, with plans for rotating displays and long-term storage at the town hall location. The artifacts’ owners will be able to designate them as permanent gifts or temporary loans when bringing them to CHAC members.

Committee Member Dan Costello said he was still waiting to see the fate of federal budget decisions regarding the Historic Façade Easement Program before openly encouraging owners of historical homes in the town to investigate the program.

In recent months, Costello and other preservation-minded residents have been considering ways of preserving Bethany Beach’s historical homes. The façade program has been one of their focuses, as it would allow owners of such homes to basically sell the facades of their homes to a preservation entity, thus guaranteeing that the exterior appearance of such buildings would be preserved.

The owners, in exchange, could be provided with a tax advantage. Committee members have also expressed hope that the town might eventually support such a program with additional incentives.

In the coming weeks, supportive homeowners and the committee plan to send letters about the idea to owners of properties in the town that they have identified as potentially historic.

Finally, based on the success of the committee’s cultural events over the winter, the committee is already stockpiling ideas for storytellers, historians and other entertainers to appear in the second series of events tentatively planned for this winter. Committee members expressed their eagerness to continue the series.

The next meeting of the CHAC is set for June 14 at 1 p.m. in the town hall.

Members of the committee’s offshoot group, the Seaside Craft Show Committee, met Tuesday, May 10, to begin finalizing plans for their inaugural event, June 4 on the town’s boardwalk.

More than 65 crafters have signed up to exhibit and sell at the craft show, which is billed as being specifically for “fine crafts.” Entertainment is to be provided by the Back Bay Strummers, and volunteers are being lined up to assist with early morning set-up and day-long activities to facilitate the event.

While parking for the vendors will be set up on Christian Church property across from the town hall, committee members also noted that the church had decided to offer parking for visitors on the opposite side of its property, in addition to existing public parking. The $3 charge for those seeking to patronize the show will benefit the church.

Committee members have their fingers crossed for great weather on June 4, hoping that it will bring a substantial crowd for the event’s premiere. But it will be held rain or shine.

The committee plans to meet at least twice more prior to that day, to nail down final details and do their best to ensure things go off without a hitch.