After months of planning and even longer consideration, the Bethany Beach Cultural and Historical Affairs Committee recently saw the completion of one of their biggest projects: a historical mural depicting the town’s original street layout and some of its original homes.
The mural crowns the town museum, inside the town hall lobby, overlooking the area from high on the western wall of the lobby area in antiqued tones of brown, gold and blue. Nine of the town’s original homes surround an original street map, indicating not only its originally tiny dimensions but its history as a beach getaway for families.
Beyond the mural, the designs involved in the piece are now planned for additional uses, with drawings of individual homes to eventually grace a set of notecards and the overall image soon to be reproduced on prints suitable for display on the walls of some of the town’s residents, visitors and property owners.
Both of the new aspects of the project are currently in the bidding phase, with expectations of production and sale within the year. Funds raised would go to help offset the costs of commissioning and installing the mural.
At their meeting on March 13, CHAC members did agree to not pursue one possible aspect of the new projects, voting unanimously to stick with the existing nine house drawings for the notecard project rather than rounding out that number to an even dozen with three additional designs that would have to be commissioned.
CHAC member and former town council member Jane Fowler said she felt there was a feeling in the town now, with revenues falling and the possibility of a 100 percent increase in property taxes looming, that the town should be making an effort to save money rather than spend even more. Other CHAC members were in agreement, opting to approve an eventual packet of nine notecards with the already existing designs.
Cultural events planned
Also on March 13, committee members were preparing for future editions of their popular cultural events, with the planned March 21 presentation of “Cooking with Lisa DiFebo,” wherein DiFebo will bring the cooking knowledge she has from her family’s Bethany restaurant to all those who turn out at Bethany Beach town hall at 7:30 p.m. Light refreshments are planned and the public is welcome, as always.
Fowler noted that she had thought of some additional subjects the CHAC cultural events could address, including the female officers of a historical ship and the historic town of Bethel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The committee is also working on organizing a night with members of the Bay Pilots Association.
The next scheduled event for the group is set for April, when the subject will be the history of Delmarva’s poultry industry.
Also on the agenda for future display at town hall is a collection of historical photographs to which former CHAC member Jeri Walsh is in the process of adding descriptive text, in preparation for eventual installation and display on the computer kiosks in the town museum.
The committee is also awaiting the arrival of a group of bronze historical markers that will be displayed at the locations of some of the town’s original homes, historical homes and historical sites. Those are due in the latter part of March, at which time the town will begin installing them at the sites.
CHAC members walked around some of the sites on Tuesday, planning precisely where each marker would go when installed.
Some of the sites will also soon be added to the Bethany Beach Historical Trail – a walking tour of the town’s historical sites that already contains most of the historic homes. Other tweaks to the existing map and brochure are planned as part of the update.
New art purchased for museum
CHAC member Margaret Young reported on March 13 that she had purchased a copy of artist Ellen Rice’s “Out of the Mists” at the request of a donor to the Bethany Beach Historical Association who had wanted the donation to go toward a piece of art for display in the museum. Young said the print was to be framed and likely end up displayed above the stairs in the town hall lobby.
Young also noted that the BBHA, of which she is the secretary, had recently sent out a letter to its membership, requesting input on how the group should proceed after being forced to relinquish any official responsibility for oversight of the museum, which the town council voted last year to officially seat with CHAC.
BBHA members, some of whom have wanted to pursue a standalone location for the museum, as well as greater control over it, were asked about their interest in a possible area historical museum that would include items related to a number of local towns, as well as in other functions in which the group could serve.
Some of the museum docents who were once provided by the BBHA have stopped serving in that capacity due to that move by the town council to officially remove the museum from BBHA oversight, and Young and Mayor Carol Olmstead, who chairs the committee, were again at odds on March 13 over the circumstances behind that split.
Fowler encouraged both groups to band together in support of the museum and historical work.
Meanwhile, the town has sent out a request for interested members of the community to donate some of their time and energy as docents for two hours each month, on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer. For more information or to volunteer, call Bethany Beach Town Hall at 539-8011 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.