Many New England states feature a piece of early American history, and the state of Delaware is no exception. One of the 13 original British colonies, Delaware was also the first to sign the United States Constitution, giving it the moniker of “The First State.” For those looking to immerse themselves in this part of our nation’s history, the Ryves Holt House should be a must visit!

History of the Ryves Holt House

The Ryves Holt House, located in the town of Lewes, holds the distinction of being the oldest standing house in the state of Delaware. Using dendrochronology, the scientific study of dating tree rings, the house has been confirmed to have been built in 1665. The Holt House would have been built by early Dutch settlers, about 30 years after the first European settlement in Delaware. In 1723, the house was purchased by Ryves Holt, giving it its namesake. Ryves Holt himself is an important figure in Delaware history, as he served as the first Chief Justice of Delaware from 1745 until his death in 1763. Today, the Ryves Holt house features a museum gift shop and is also the Lewes Historical Society Visitor Center. In 2014, the Ryves Holt House was added to the First State National Historical Park, ensuring its preservation for future generations.

Lewes Historical Society

Visiting New England often means that history lies in around every corner, and the city of Lewes is no different! The Lewes Historical Society was officially founded in 1962 by a group of passionate local citizens whose mission was to preserve the early American history in their town. A main part of the Lewes Historical Society involves purchasing, restoring, and preserving buildings that provide excellent examples of early architecture, including the Ryves Holt House. The Ryves Holt House has been the location of the Lewes Historical Society Visitor Center since 1997, making it the centerpiece of this extremely important part of the culture of Lewes.

Hours and Operation and Additional Information

Starting January 1st through March 31st, the Ryves Holt house is open Thursday-Saturday from 11AM to 4PM, and on Sundays from 1PM to 4PM. Beginning April 1st through May 31st, it is open from 11AM to 5PM. From June 1st through October 1st, the busy tourist season in Lewes, it is open 7 days a week from 11AM to 5PM. Learn about the early Dutch settlements in Delaware and the important role of Lewes in the ratification of the Constitution.


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