The Ocean View Historical Society is hoping to begin construction on its replica of Hall’s Store — a re-creation based on the general store that “gave rise” to the town of Ocean View — very soon, thanks to the continued support of Contractors for a Cause. The resulting structure will be a visitor’s center and education center, housing local artifacts, a meeting room, kitchenette and restrooms.
On Aug. 17, Mark Hardt, a charter member of and director of scholarships and membership for Contractors for a Cause, as well as co-owner of Miranda & Hardt Contracting, presented the society with a check for $3,000 from the non-profit.
“It is our great pleasure to give you a check. We like to put our money where our mouth is,” said Hardt. “This is a win-win for the community as well. We’re two 501(c)(3)s, and this is for the community, and literally by the community, because all the people who are participating in this are local.”
Hardt said building plans for the structure were submitted to the Office of the State Fire Marshal earlier this month, as well as applications to the Town of Ocean View that will be heard before their Board of Adjustment and Planning & Zoning Commission at back-to-back Sept. 21 meetings.
Teaming up with the historical society was an easy choice, said Hardt, noting that the financial support is part of Contractors’ Good Neighbor program.
“Contractors getting involved takes what we all do — our expertise in building — and helps the community. Us joining their team makes this happen for real — not to mention that we have the resources to do the actual construction itself.”
The non-profit has a number of branches dedicated to community outreach and support: Helping Hands, which provides disadvantaged community members free services and professional advice in the field of home construction, maintenance and repair; a scholarship for two local graduating high school seniors; and the Good Neighbor program, under which the historical society project falls.
“The union between us and the historical society is perfect, because they’re here to service the community, too. They do it through history. We do it through our hands and our backs.”
OVHS representatives said the group is very grateful for the support and partnership they’ve found in Contractors.
“We would be nowhere without these gentleman — particularly Mark,” said OVHS’s Richard Nippes. “We know we’re in good hands. You and your contractors will probably take part in actually assembling this building.”
“It has motivated us. It has given us a reason to believe we’re on our way to building the structure of Hall’s Store with the amount of money we have in our coffers now,” added OVHS President Barbara Evans Slavin.
Of Hardt, she said, “His enthusiasm is contagious. He gets you involved in things and excited about things. I have complete trust in him. His intentions are to go as far as he can with the monies we can provide to them. He’s also of the opinion that, ‘build it and they will come’ — that people will be inspired by having seen the initial construction.”
Nippes said that, once the project goes through the Town’s approval process, the first stages of construction will begin.
“I hope and sincerely pray we will have this building built by the middle of 2018.”
Slavin said the society is currently working hard on fundraising efforts, to ensure they have the funds to compete the project. Fundraising ideas include dine-and-donate evenings at local restaurants, a shopping night at York Beach Mall, a winter holiday event at the historic complex and more.
“In April or May, we’d like to have a gala in the shell of the visitor’s center. That will be our first attempt at having some sort of a gala. Everyone will get dressed up, we’ll have an auction of some kind, a nice array of food and drinks. We want to have another tea party.”
The society is already working on its inaugural Coastal Towns Historic Homes Tour, which will focus on the historic homes of Ocean View, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for the tour of seven historic homes cost $30 each.
Slavin said that, next year, the tour will focus on the historic houses of Fenwick Island.
“Those are the kinds of things we want to start as tradition.”
Education is a key piece of the society’s mission, as is preserving, interpreting and collecting the history of Ocean View and the surrounding Baltimore Hundred area.
“The appreciation of history is only understood when you experience it. I think the kids, especially, but even the adults who come through the complex, are all amazed that this complex exists… We want to draw people in and, hopefully, get them as excited about history as we are.
“If you don’t get them excited about history, what will happen? We don’t really know. Obviously, the young people are the ones who will take over when we’re not around anymore.”
Every year, the OVHS invites elementary school children to the historic complex, which includes the restored 1860 Tunnell-West family home, a two-seater outhouse and water pump, the town’s first free-standing post office, circa 1889, and a replica of Cecile Steele’s first chicken house, circa 1923.
“We still want to maintain our educational piece by hosting lectures and have the students from Lord Baltimore come,” said Slavin. “The students are such a joy, because they absorb everything. Their enthusiasm is boundless — especially when you catch them at the right time.”
As for the partnership between Contractors and the historical society, Hardt said he hopes the community will get involved in the project and show an interest in the history of the area in which they live.
“We’re hoping that the interest stays high, because we really need the support of the community to make sure we get this done for us and for our kids — for the future,” he said. “We’re going to be part of history!”
The Ocean View Historical Society complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View. Free parking is available in the Ocean View municipal parking lots adjacent to John West Park.
Those who are interested in donating to the Ocean View Historical Society may mail donations to the Ocean View Historical Society, P.O. Box 576, Ocean View, DE 19970. For more information regarding the Ocean View Historical Society and upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org.
For more information about Contractors for a Cause, to donate or volunteer, visit www.contractorsforacause.org/de or call (302) 537-8048.
Those who wish to attend the Coastal Towns Historic Homes Tour may purchase tickets in advance at Ellen Rice Gallery in Ocean View or at Made By Hand in South Bethany, or by visiting www.oceanviewhistoricalsociety.org.