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Cape Gazette
Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
January 17, 1997     Cape Gazette
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January 17, 1997
 

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Zwaanendael Club in Lewes originally housed the first Sussex Trust bank office Delaware's General Assembly formally chartered the Sussex Trust Title and Safe Deposit Com- pany in 1895..With the arrival of railroads locally and the nation in a period of stability following the Civil War, a number of Sussex County businessmen felt the time had arrived for Sussex County to have its own bank. Three years later, in 1898, Lewes people gathered at the cor- ner of Savannah Road and Third Street for the opening of the bank's first building. Solid red brick with a gray slate roof, the building with its classic architectural lines and ornamental touches portrayed an image of prudent prosperity. Daniel J. Fooks, of in- land Sussex, served as the bank's first president. Under his leadership the bank opened two more DR. WM. ORR branches in short order. The Laurel branch opened in 1899 followed by a Milton branch in 1902. Lewes physician Dr. William P. Orr succeeded Fooks in 1912 and served until 1936. During his tenure, "the bank's name was shortened to Sussex Trust Compa- ny and the Lewes office, growing rapidly, moved over to Second St. in Lewes. (Wilmington Trust, a few years ago, acquired all of Sus- sex Trust's assets and continues to operate in the Second St. Sussex Trust facility.) The Mustard family of Lewes acquired the Savannah Rd. prop- erty and building from Sussex Trust and operated a number of enterprises there for about a decade. Raymond "Stem" Atkins, now in his 90s, recalls that an early lending library operated in the building. Stem's mother, Lilly Virginia Atkins, no doubt took her son into the building. Shewas an active woman who lived to be 100 and served many years as a char- ter member of the local Zwaanen- dael Club. (The dawning of the 20th centu- ry brought with it a rise in hun- dreds of women's clubs across the nation. They all eventually affili- ated with the General Federation The Zwaanendael Club on Savannah Rd. in Lewes. BAREF00TIN' of Women's Clubs. Lewes's ver- sion took the name Zwaanendael Club; Georgetown and Milton called theirs New Century Clubs; Rehoboth's Village Improvement Association (VIA) is also an affil- iate; and the Smyrna club is called the 20th Century Club. In all, there are 36 GFWC affiliates in Delaware - existing for the pur- pose of improving their communi- ties.) According to Gertrude Tharp, a Zwaanendael Club member since 1950, Virginia L. Mustard was al- so among the club's earliest mem- bers, When her husband died, she moved to Massachusetts and sold the building to the Zwaanendael Club. Ownership changed hands on Dec. 14, 1929. "Up until that time we met in member's homes and occasionally in the Lewes Auditorium where Dr. Morgan's office is now," said Tharp. "Since the purchase, we've been meeting in the former bank." The membership of the Zwaa- nendael Club, which over the years has stood at about 35, has al- ways shown a great appreciation for the building they own. "It's a pretty little building," said Tharp. "The bank included stained glass windows in the front and we keep one of those lighted to add to the nighttime streetscape," said Tharp. Over the years there have been additions. Tharp said that in 1932 the club's members commis- sioned construction of a fireplace. "The Cape Henlopen lighthouse fell into the sea in 1926 and the club had the fireplace built of stones from the light. Then a number of years later another small addition was built on to the Third St. side. We spend a little each year to keep the building in good repair." The Zwaanendael Club opens its building to the publi c each year during the Historical Society's Christmas tour and offers the building for a number of other ac- tivities. In past years, said Tharp, the buiiding's been used alternate- ly by Lewes Republican and De- mocratic Clubs. And in the next few months, the American Red Cross will use the building for volunteer training sessions. As the building nears its 100th birthday, it continues to attractive- ly anchor one of downtown Lewes's most visible corners. CAPE GAZETYE, Friday, January 17 - January 23, 1997. 7 I am now with Doug Davis, Associate Broker [l Realty Group 402 Rehoboth Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 227-4800 Toll Free 1-800-995-6350 Fax 302-227-2115 Or Call Me Direct- 226-DOUG (Direct) 1-888-226-DOUG (Toll Free) 745-DOUG (Cellular) 302-226-0970 (Fax) www.dougdavis.com