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Rehoboth Beach

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Sometimes called the “The Nation's Summer Capital” for its many visitors from Washington, D.C., the town had just 1,495 residents in 2000, but its population regularly soars to 25,000 on summer weekends. It was founded as a Methodist camp-meeting resort in 1872 and grew steadily after the railroad reached it six years later. A paved highway in 1925 supplanted the railroad and triggered a boom. Irénée du Pont improved Lake Gerar by dredging, and wealthy Wilmingtonians built around it. Rehoboth Heights (“Where Pine and Brine are Ever Wooing”) was developed at the same time along Silver Lake. North of town, Mediterranean-style Henlopen Hotel flourished. A handful of early buildings survive today, including the Gables (1874) at 12 Lake Avenue on the eastern edge of Lake Gerar, once home to the Methodist bishop during camp meetings. The railroad station (1879), originally on Rehoboth Avenue near the beachfront, was moved by truck to the vicinity of the canal bridge and restored (1987–1988) as the Chamber of Commerce headquarters. All Saint's Episcopal Church at 18 Olive Avenue (1892–1893, Edward Luff Rice Jr.) was altered after a fire in the 1930s and again in the 1950s. The rambling frame A. Felix du Pont house at 54 Oak Avenue serves as a church conference center. Rehoboth's tree-lined streets (some of which retain their original concrete surfaces) are good places to study cottage and bungalow design from many eras, but demolitions of old houses have lately increased, owing to escalating land values.

Writing Credits

Author: 
W. Barksdale Maynard

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