Fresh on the heels of their presentation of State Archivist Russell McCabe, the Bethany Beach Cultural and Historical Affairs Committee is preparing another cultural extravaganza. On Wednesday, March 22, local author Gordon Wood is scheduled speak on the history of the Bethany Beach area. Now, his presentation will be joined by members of the Bethany Beach Watercolor Society with an exhibit of their works of art.
The art show is tentatively scheduled as a month-long event, with the paintings temporarily replacing the Bethany Beach town museum’s historical displays in the town hall lobby. The exhibit may last through Easter, Vice Mayor and CHAC Chairwoman Carol Olmstead announced to the committee at their Feb. 21 meeting. They will be available for sale as well, directly through the artists.
In other museum news, Olmstead noted the completion of the installation on a two-station computer kiosk that will showcase historical photos and the committee’s ongoing oral history project.
Museum design and installation company Lynch Industries is to present a proposal to the town for scanning the photos into the kiosk system, while the committee is proceeding with organizing and actually beginning to record interviews with longtime residents of the town.
Olmstead said she had secured the services of Coastal Point reporter Sam Harvey to conduct the initial set of interviews, as well as a professional audio engineer to edit the finished sound files into what will be presented on the kiosk. She noted that she hoped some of the first interviews would be done in the next month. She said, “If we get some of these interviews on the kiosk by May, we’ll be on the right track.”
Additionally, an open letter to area residents asking them to contribute their memories of life in Bethany Beach for the museum’s history files will be placed in the museum, as an invitation to anyone willing to put pen to paper or their voice into a recording.
Lynch Industries is also coordinating the final touch on the town’s museum: an illustration of the town’s historical setting to decorate the arch above the museum space. The map will show the original configuration of the town and feature about a dozen of its oldest structures — each being several feet in size.
Committee members spent considerable time at the Feb. 21 meeting determining what their top choices for the depicted structures will be. Space will determine which ones become part of the final design, but top selections were the Christian Church tabernacle, the Addy Sea, the Seaside Inn and the homes of original Bethany Beach families: the Eritts, Kidds and Cramblets, as well as “The Oriole,” the Drexler house, Journey’s End, the town’s post office circa 1904 and “the store.”
That same list of structures is likely to kick off the committee’s plans for historical markers to accent their walking tour of the town’s historic locations and structures. Committee member Margaret Young provided the other committee members with a detailed list of such points of interest, as well as highlights of each location’s history.
While on the subject of historic homes in the town, Olmstead noted with a bittersweet tone the recent offer by property owner Brian Marcy to donate the structure known as “the Evans house” to the town for preservation, as he seeks to develop the property on the north side of Garfield Parkway at Kent Avenue.
Sadly, Olmstead reported, the town has no location on which to put the house and empty lots are just too expensive for it to buy land on which such homes could be preserved. The newly cleared lot next to the town hall was rejected as a possible site, she added.
The committee’s next meeting was set for Monday, March 13, at 1 p.m.