Marcos Salaverria inhabits Lewes past with an enthusiasm he hopes is infectious

Interview by Ashley Dawson  |  Photograph by Carolyn Watson
From the July 2015 issue

marcos-lgSpend a little time with Marcos Salaverria, and you’ll see how captivating the past can be, especially if the talkative director of education for the Lewes Historical Society is in costume.

He learned when he was 8 years old and met “George Washington” that a personal interaction with history creates a lasting impression, and that’s his goal when engaging LHS visitors young and old. But Salaverria is particularly focused on creating interactive programs for students.

Since joining the historical society last August, he’s worked steadily on increasing visits to its complex, with a goal of doubling past attendance. And as of early summer he was on track to succeed: At that time, Salaverria had hosted 500 students at special events and expected to draw an additional 500 through fall, exceeding the 600 who attended in 2014. In addition, he’s willing to take Lewes history on the road by visiting schools.

He moved to the area for the job last summer (along with wife, Whitney) with a deep appreciation for the past and a resume filled with related experience, from leading history-laden tours of downtown Annapolis on a Segway to managing visitor programs at Tryon Palace, the colonial capital of North Carolina in New Bern. He most recently worked as director of education and volunteer manager for the Historic Annapolis Foundation.

As part of its effort to engage the public, the society hosts periodic Heritage Days, when visitors can experience a historical demonstration, learn about a featured artifact in the LHS collection and hear information about foods of the area’s past. They may even get to sample it. As Salaverria says, “For those who can’t swallow dry history, I say let them swallow it down with a bit of fun food.”

In the spring, the society worked with a local bakery, Old World Breads, and featured two cookies — sugar and molasses — to teach children about the passage of the controversial Sugar Act by Parliament in 1764. Kids could vote for their favorite and consider if they could live without sugar today.

Visitors can find Salaverria in action at Heritage Days events, at the Mini Menhaden program he offers for small groups of preschoolers or walking the LHS grounds dressed as a turn-of-the-century sailor speaking with visitors. His office is a small room inside the Ellegood House, a circa-1800 building at the LHS complex currently hosting an exhibit on Delaware’s breweries and craft beers.

The latter is a topic dear to his heart. His interests include trivia of all sorts, “Star Wars,” comic books — and historical alcohol products, including beers and wines that are made from old recipes. “Dogfish Head being close, too. That was a selling point,” Salaverria says of his move to the area.

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