Hike down memory lane: South Bethany opens history trail

Date Published: 
April 28, 2017

South Bethany is mapping a history trail for all to see.Coastal Point • Laura Walter:  South Bethany Historical Society President Bob McCarthy displays a historical photo of South bethany at the dedication of the Town’s new Trail of History.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: South Bethany Historical Society President Bob McCarthy displays a historical photo of South bethany at the dedication of the Town’s new Trail of History.

Residents gathered at Richard Hall Memorial Park on April 21 to unveil South Bethany’s new Trail of History.

“The fact that you’re here means South Bethany is your own very special part of the earth,” Councilwoman Sue Callaway told the crowd on Earth Day weekend.

The project was a partnership between the Community Enhancement Committee and South Bethany Historical Society.

Starting in the east, five signboards tell South Bethany’s story through the years, from the first purchase of coastal land in the 1950s and quest to incorporate as a town, into the 21st century.

It got conversation buzzing. At each stop, people found photographs of familiar faces and homes. They remembered the canals before bulkheads, docks and regulations; stories of town politics; and swimming in the canals.

“It’s great that you guys found a wonderful place for this,” said Historical Society President Bob McCarthy, who remembers old debates over sewer installation, playgrounds and roads.

“People just don’t have an appreciation of how we got here today,” Callaway said.

Richard Hall Memorial Park is a triangular chunk of land, named for the late developer who first envisioned a community set among the marsh and sand dunes. His wife, Elizabeth Hall, eventually donated the land for town hall and the park.

“This really shows what a vibrant community we are,” Callaway said. “And we’re still doing things! And it takes a lot of volunteers and town staff” to continue connecting people with beach activities and winter potlucks. “I think all these things build a community.”

Callaway thanked the many volunteers who wrote and researched, as well as the Public Works Department for helping with design and installation.

“South Bethany has something now that’s tangible,” said Carolyn Marcello, saying she was delighted that South Bethany has a physical piece of history. “We have something to show people. Tourists can follow and learn the story of South Bethany.”

Marcello is especially proud of town history. She spotted a picture of her sister, May Felerski, on the history boards. Felerski was the first town secretary, running town business from her own house.

“To see my sister is so special,” Marcello said. “I can remember going to the town office in her home. I can remember seeing the lifeguards come in, the police come in… it was so exciting to see all the activity.”

People can also take home a slice of history with “The Best Little Beach in Delaware,” a 160-page book by the South Bethany Historical Society, still available for sale in local stores.