Historical society offering Civil War reenactment, summer hours

The Ocean View Historical Society is continuing its mission to bring local history to the masses through various programs.

This weekend, the 2nd Delaware Civil War Volunteers will set up an encampment featuring a reenactment of cooking, musket firing, tenting and camp life during the Civil War, at the Ocean View Historical Complex.

“I just started to do some research,” said the OVHS’s Richard Nippes. “It sounded really unique, and they seemed to be interested in doing something here in Ocean View. So, one thing led to another, and we came up with a date.”

The event will take place on June 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission to the reenactment costs $5 for OVHS members or $10 for non-members. Children 12 or younger may attend free of charge.

Those who attend will get to see reenactors dressed in period garb, as if it were the 1860s.

“It’s not a large number — maybe 10 or 12 people. They will set up a camp how they would for an actual Civil War battle, show how they would cook. They will do marching demonstrations, shoot their guns…”

Nippes said the event will certainly appeal to those who are interested in the Civil War, but he believes it will have a wider draw.

“I would think that anyone who has had a history course… It’s one thing to read about it, but to actually see weapons and how difficult it would’ve been for them is another… It’s not every day you have a reenactment in your back yard.”

Along with the Civil War reenactment, the historical society will also be opening its complex Wednesday afternoons during the summer months.

“The idea was proposed by [former OVHS president] Carol Psaros… so that people could come and tour the buildings.”

The summer open-house for the historical complex will run every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m., until Labor Day. Adults and children alike will be able to tour the restored 1860 Tunnell-West family home, a two-seater outhouse and water pump, the town’s first free-standing post office, circa 1889, and Cecile Steele’s first chicken house, circa 1923.

“This is the third year we have decided that we have enough there for people to come and see,” said Nippes. “It has been very well-received. A lot of people who are down see this as something to do other than being on the beach. Once they come, they seem to get very excited, asking questions about the unique artifacts and things like that.”

Hosting events for the public is an important way the society can educate the community about the area’s history, said Nippes.

“To really understand what is going on, you need to understand the past and what transpired here, the values people had, how they dealt with adversity. It helps you appreciate what you have today.”

The society is currently in the middle of a capital campaign to raise money for its new visitor center, a re-created Hall’s Store, which existed and thrived in the 1830s.

“I think people will be fascinated to see how a store actually looked like, to see what they sold… It’s very exciting. I think people will learn a great deal about life here in the Ocean View area.”

Nippes said the society plans to remove the garage on the historic complex sometime this summer to prepare for the construction of the center.

“We hope to start construction on our visitors’ center this fall,” he said. “By fall, that building will be down and starting all the infrastructure that needs to go into this new building.

“We have enough money to do the first phase of the project, which is running the infrastructure to the site — water lines, sewer lines, all that type of stuff, pouring a special pad of concrete so we will be ADA compliant. Then the next phase will be the building of the actual structure, which, once we raise that money, will go very quickly. Once we’re in the final phase, we’ll work on the inside... I can’t wait; it’s been a long time coming.”

Nippes said the society is in an exciting time, and they hope the community will continue to support them in their ongoing endeavor of preserving the area’s history for generations to come.

The Ocean View Historical Complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View. Free parking is available in the Ocean View Town lots adjacent to the John West Park.

Those who are interested in donating to the Ocean View Historical Society may mail donations to the Ocean View Historical Society, P.O. Box 576, Ocean View, DE 19970.

For more information regarding the Ocean View Historical Society and upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org.