With Memorial Day weekend having arrived, the Ocean View Historical Society will be hosting a garden party to kick off the start of summer.
“I really felt as though the historical society needed some exposure,” said Anne Powell, an OVHS board member. “Even though I was gung-ho about their mission and projects, and I live in Ocean View, I didn’t know they were there, and it’s a pretty big mission that they have.”
“I really felt, if more people knew about the historical society, they would be enthusiastic to support the mission.”
With that in mind, Powell suggested creating an annual fundraiser, to not only raise funds for the society’s many community projects, but also to reach those invested in the area who may not be aware of the society’s good works.
“I’m just trying to lend a hand with extension of membership into the community,” said Powell. “It’s the community I see really being the most essential part of a non-profit organization.”
Fun & Feasting in the Garden will be held on Friday, June 1, at Good Earth Market, beginning at 6 p.m. The evening will feature a five-course feast created by chef Nino Mancari, a signature “garden mint mojito” drink, wine and beer, and music. The price for tickets is $125 per person. The event is limited to 150 people.
“The Good Earth Market has a lovely garden,” said Carol Psaros, the former president and a member of the society. “We’re excited to have Nino Mancari. He is a well-known chef in this area and will be preparing some delightful food.”
“It will be in the garden. There will be stringed lighting, and an outdoor bar set up,” added Powell, noting that the event will be a casual cocktail party. “It’s an investment. It’s a donation. It’s going to be a very, very nice meal.”
The evening is being sponsored by a number of local businesses, including Made By Hand and Heather’s Home Works. Dogfish Head Brewery is donating the beer, while Beach Liquors is contributing the wine, and Good Earth Market is sponsoring dessert.
“Dogfish was so excited to hear about our preservation efforts. Jerry Kappes, the owner of Beach Liquors, has been really supportive. They’re donating our wine for the evening,” said Powell.
“Heather [DeMarie, the owner of] Heather’s Home Works — she’s really into supporting our community. Susan Ryan has been an advocate for the group since the first day we went and talked to her. She’s sponsoring desserts and leading the way because she’s helped other groups have successful fundraising events at Good Earth Market. It’s a beautiful space there.
“We are a small town, and we help each other out.”
Powell herself, a local Realtor with Keller Williams, is sponsoring advertising in local papers and through the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce.
Those who attend the garden party will also have the opportunity to bid on and possibly win some live and silent auction items, including a stay at the Good Earth cottage and a dinner for two, a two-night getaway in a Shenandoah Valley cabin, art and more.
“People will like them!” said Psaros of the variety of auction items.
Powell said she hopes the event will sell out, so the society can continue its work on the Coastal Towns Museum.
“I’d like to see the historical society make $5,000, at least, so we can bring some funds back to support the mission. We have some great ideas, but it all comes back to money to support that mission,” she said. “I would like to have a solid attendance and grow this in the future and have an opportunity to support the historical society.”
continues to grow
The mission of the Ocean View Historical Society is to “preserve, interpret and collect the history of Ocean View and the surrounding Baltimore Hundred area, sharing our past with all communities that comprise the Ocean View area, visitors, and locals; thereby building an identity that will enable us to wisely approach the challenges the future will bring to Delaware’s coastal towns.”
With that in mind, the society has restored the 1889 Tunnel-West house, adjacent to John West Park. Along with the Tunnel-West house, the complex features a two-seater outhouse and water pump, the town’s first free-standing post office, circa 1889, a replica of Cecile Steele’s first chicken house, circa 1923, and the Hall’s Store Visitors Center — the newest addition to the society’s buildings.
The store will serve as a visitor center, featuring a reproduction of an old-time country store, educational classroom, a galley kitchen and restrooms.
Those who drive by the complex may have noticed the completion of the exterior of the building; however, the society is still in need of funds in order to complete the building’s interior.
“We have made great progress on our visitor center. The shingles are on, the doors and windows are in, and by Memorial Day they’ll have done all they can do with the funds we have,” said Psaros.
“We’re going to hold off on construction until we raise more money. We need to raise about $200,000 more to do the landscaping and all the interior. It’s exciting we’ve made the progress we’ve made.”
The society also owns the nearby Evans-West house, which is the future home of the Coastal Towns Museum, which the Fun & Feasting in the Garden will be supporting.
The home was donated to the society by Carolyn Brunner and her son, Dan McCann, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The 1901 cross-gabled home also features the original barn and a star-shaped daffodil garden.
The society will have their buildings open throughout the summer, every Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. with docents available to provide additional information to visitors. That will include the Coastal Towns Museum, even though it is not fully completed.
“We’re calling it a soft opening, because somebody can go through and look in each room and there will be a sign up explaining what kind of displays will be in each room,” said Psaros of the Coastal Towns Museum. “They’ll be able to go through, look at each room and there will be some items in there they can look at.”
While the museum is not in its completed state, it does feature the original molding, light fixtures and front-door glass etching.
“Upstairs, we’re in the process of assembling an old Ocean View loom. They’ll be able to see that, too, if they’re able to go upstairs,” Psaros added. “It’s all in pieces. It’s halfway put together right now. We brought in experts from the Delaware State Archives who were quite helpful. We’re very excited about that artifact.
“We’re making progress on that. We’re hoping, by the time we open the museum for real, we hope to have it as an operating loom.”
While the Wednesday history days are free and open to the public, donations are always accepted.
Along with the Fun & Festing in the Garden event, the historical society will also be hosting its second annual historic homes tour, this year set in Fenwick Island, on Oct. 6.
“We need to raise money, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Psaros.
Preserving history is important, she said, especially in small coastal areas, whose landscapes have changed dramatically over the centuries.
“I was never a history buff in school, but it’s really interesting to hear about. It’s interesting to hear about what was here, see old pictures of the area, hear the stories,” said Powell. “We’re going to try to have an inclusive history of the area — how did we get here? What was the past? Because then we can start thinking about the future.”
The historical society is always in search of new members to help support their mission, and Powell said she encourages more people to get involved.
“I think the more ideas and more people we can pull together, the more great things we can do for the entire area,” she said. “This coastal area — I think it’s important for us to remember the changes, some of the struggles, some of the celebrations that people here endured and how we got here… I love the area. I’m really glad I’m here.”
To purchase tickets to Fun & Feasting in the Garden, visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org and click on the June 1 date and then click on the green “tickets” button. To reserve a ticket via phone, call (302) 539-2100 during business hours or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Maria Counts