Historic Village of Ocean View

The Historic Village in Ocean View (HVOV) is a village consisting of an eclectic collection of historic sites from Ocean View with local coastal towns including Ocean View, Millville, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island featured at the Coastal Towns Museum at 40 West Avenue in Ocean View. It is dripping in the history of the area.  

The Historic Village in Ocean View’s mission is to “collect, preserve, interpret, and celebrate the history of Ocean View, Delaware, and the surrounding area of Baltimore Hundred. We strive to meet the challenges of 21st Century coastal living by understanding and embracing our rich heritage.” 

“We have quite a few historic structures, so our focus is on maintaining them,” says volunteer treasurer Phil Shockley. “We just completed a major restoration of the exterior of the Tunnell-West House, a Civil War-era structure that is a museum on the first floor. We have the oldest barn in Sussex County that needs some repair and hope to work on that later in the year in addition to some maintenance work on our Chicken House replica and old Post Office buildings.” 

HVOV President Barbara Slavin knows all about the area’s history and the Tunnel-West House. She is the great, great granddaughter of the Tunnell-West combo and the great granddaughter of the West, who built the Tunnell West house for the overseers of their farmland. She also is the granddaughter of the builder of the Coastal Towns Museum, which was donated by her cousin.  

“I am very proud to be the president of the Historic Village in Ocean View”, she says.  

The Hall’s Store Visitors and Education Center is open for tours and has a meeting room available for rent. There is space for lectures, social events, meetings, and educational lessons. The front of the building features a store like those of the 1800s. Hall’s Store was the name of Ocean View during that time.  

“We strive to present to the public this Village as it would have been during the 1800’s by telling stories and background of our many locally donated artifacts,” explained Slavin. “Many local residents have generously given appropriate articles such as a Civil War camp chair, a portrait and story of an 1860 era local ship captain, a rope bed, musical instruments, post office accessories, chicken artifacts, farm items, and many items that represent our local Coastal towns”.  

The HVOV adventure began in 2008. It has progressed through today thanks to local and state funding, members, interested individuals and organizations. The group has hosted a couple of Smithsonian exhibitions, bringing in over 1400 guests from the surrounding areas, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.  

Most of the work is done by volunteer members of the Board of Trustees who take on responsibilities such as membership and volunteer coordination. COVID put a cramp in the group’s volunteer recruitment efforts, but they are bouncing back. There are no paid staff.  

Most members are retired, but several still work. “Some have an interest in history or dealt with it in their professional careers,” said Shockley. “We have quite a diverse group, including several Ph.D.’s, a scientist, and a former state department foreign service officer.”  He says HVOV is looking at ways to broaden participation and interest among younger people. 

HVOV is a member of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Museum Association. It is not affiliated with the Lewes Historical Society (LHS). 

2 responses to “Historic Village of Ocean View

    1. Here are the hours online:
      In Season – Every Wednesday from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
      Off Season – By appointment only. We are also open during the Town of Ocean View park events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our FREE Updates

Keep in the loop with life in Sussex County DE!  We'll share fun, local events on a Thursday, and great articles on local life each Monday. 

Skip to content