The Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House
118 Front Street
Lewes, DE 19958
Open: Sunday-Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm
Admission: $5.00 (this includes admission to the Lewes History Museum)
My review on TripAdvisor:
My blog on The Lewes Historical Society:
The Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House at 118 Front Street
The Lewes Historical Society promotes and advocates the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Lewes region, through museum exhibits, educational programs, historical research, and publications.
About The Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House
The Cannonball House was built c. 1765 and was once the home of Gilbert McCracken and David Rowland, pilots for the Bay & River Delaware. The Cannonball House has come to symbolize not only the Society, but the town of Lewes as well; previous uses included a restaurant, a laundry store, and, for a time, the mayor’s office. Harkening back to the town’s rich nautical heritage, the Cannonball House is the home of The Lewes Historical Society’s Maritime Museum. Nationally important pieces of maritime art and memorabilia are displayed in the house, including the Fresnel Lens of Fourteen Foot Bank Light. The exhibition of Breaking Britannia’s Grasp is also housed in the museum and is included in your admission.
Featured in many works on Delaware, the Cannonball House is a rare example of a Lewes house remaining on one site its entire existence. The Cannonball House was featured on the 2003 Lewes Business Directory (Lewes Historical Society website).
The front of the museum
The Cannonball at the house (recreation)
On April 5, 2003, the Cannonball House was honored by the State of Delaware for its close association with the Bombardment of Lewes by the British on April 6th and 7th, 1813 and as the home of two heroes of those fateful days, Gilbert McCraken and his son Henry, both Pilots of the Bay & River Delaware.
The Gilber and Henry McCraken burial site in downtown Lewes
The tip of the anchor that Henry McCraken was buried with in the Episcopal Church cemetery.
The War of 1812 Park, across Front Street from the house and site of one of the two forts that defended Lewes during the bombardment, was also recognized. Gilbert & Henry McCracken served in a volunteer militia composed primarily of Delaware Pilots that defended Lewes until the end of the war in 1815 (Lewes Historical Society website).
Perhaps the two most famous landmarks in Lewes are the Zwaanendael Museum and the Cannonball House. Many visitors come to town seeking the famous house with a cannonball still in its side, yet many are unaware of how close the house was to being lost. During the summer of 1961, several Lewes citizens expressed concern that the town was losing its character as its old homes were slowly being lost. They were especially concerned about the plight of what they knew as the Capt. David Rowland House – an ancient one with a distinguished history; built prior to the revolution, it had been the home of generations of river and bay pilots and had been scarred by cannon fire during the War of 1812 (Lewes Historical Society website).
The inside of the Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House has many exhibitions to view.
the Pilots display inside the Cannonball Museum
The Philadelphia exhibition
Display at the museum
The lighthouse display
The lighthouse light
The lighthouse display
The Shipping Display
Object from the Shipping Display
The museum had a display about life at sea. This included the bunking of sailors in the hull at that time. This was interesting look at life at that time.
Life on the ship
Still the most famous pieces in the museum is the cannonballs.
The Cannonball that hit the house
Cannonballs dredged from the canal.
The Grounds of the Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House have all sorts of artifacts on the outside of the property include bells, boats and buildings. Take time during the season to walk the grounds and look over all the items in the garden.
The museum courtyard
The museum courtyard
The ice house in the courtyard
The Rescue Boat
One night they met on Pilottown Road and decided something needed to be done right then and there – at that moment The Lewes Historical Society was formed. Members were sought, funds raised, and the property was acquired – the historic Burton-Ingram House on Second Street. Two years later in 1963, the young historical society had raised the money to purchase the Rowland House, also commonly called the Cannonball House in honor of its scars from the infamous Bombardment of Lewes (Lewes Historical Society website).
The Historical Marker of Lewes, DE