Examples of Historic Preservation

City of Lewes, Delaware

Lewes is a prime example of a Delaware community that has adopted historic preservation initiatives. Beginning in 1960, citizens began efforts to preserve the town’s heritage through historic preservation. The establishment of the Lewes Historical Society allowed community members to purchase and preserve historic structures.

The City of Lewes has also been instrumental in preventing the destruction of the town’s historic attributes. In 2004, Lewes crafted a historic preservation ordinance that was adopted by its mayor and council members. The ordinance provides official guidelines that ensure the community’s historic ambiance is persevered and reflect its blend of Colonial, Federal, Victorian, Delaware Vernacular and Contemporary Architectural Styles. With the passage of the ordinance, the City also established a historic preservation commission. The commission is responsible for determining if aesthetic changes made to structures within the historic district are in keeping with the town’s core values. The work of Lewes’s local government has bolstered that of private citizens determined to protect the town’s heritage.

The Queen Theater, Wilmington

Often, the goals of economic development and historic preservation intersect. Originally constructed in 1872, the Queen Theater located in the heart of Wilmington, sat empty for more than 50 years. In 2011, the Buccini/Pollin Group and the Light Up the Queen Foundation partnered to purchase the building and restore it to its original grandeur. The site’s developer also points to help from the city of Wilmington and federally provided New Market Tax Credits as having been instrumental in the Queen’s success. Today the Queen serves as a venue for live music, including “World Café Live.” It also serves as an anchor for further revitalization work in downtown Wilmington.

Schwartz Center for the Arts, Dover

Example of historic preservationDover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts has enjoyed a prosperous past. Built as the Dover Opera House in 1904, it later became a successful movie theater. However, from 1982 until 2001 the theater was unused and fell into disrepair. In 2004 a coalition between Wesley College, Delaware State University, and The Friends of the Capitol Theater purchased the theater and began the restoration process. They re-opened the space to be used as the premiere performing arts center in central Delaware. The Schwartz for the Arts is an important cultural resource for Dover, its academic institutions, and surrounding communities that was made possible through historic preservation.


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