Six long-enduring buildings offer a timeless connection to coastal Sussex’s past

By Lynn R. Parks  |  Photographs by Carolyn Watson
From the May 2018 issue

feature-then-and-nowPeople who spent idyllic summer childhoods in coastal Sussex and return decades later — perhaps to show the area to grandchildren, or to try to recapture the joys of youth — will find the ocean unchanged. Waves still crash onto the shore, just as they have for eons; sand still washes out from under the feet of anyone standing in one spot at the edge of the surf.

But beyond that, change is evident everywhere. Fields are transformed into shopping centers, two-lane roads have become six-lane highways. And many buildings that were significant parts of the landscape are gone, having been torn down and replaced with more modern structures.

There are exceptions, though. Sprinkled throughout area towns are old buildings that have managed to survive for decades, centuries even, and that are still of good use in the early 21st century. Here are descriptions of six of them, each in a different town. All are cared for by people and organizations that understand their value.

The ungainly creatures’ importance to human health is often overlooked — except by the helpful folks who assist in their annual migration ashore

By Jeanne Shook |  Photograph by Ariane Mueller
From the May 2018 issue

feature-horseshoe-crabs

The horseshoe crab was walking the ocean floor long before the first T-Rex was hatched. In fact, this ungainly arthropod has survived half a billion years. And yet, one of the oldest living species on the planet doesn’t have a week dedicated to it on the Discovery Channel, or its own Facebook page (like Mary Lee, the great white shark). Dismissed by many as ugly and useless, this Rodney Dangerfield of sea creatures often “gets no respect.”

Well, in some quarters it does. Those who take the time to get up close and personal with the horseshoe crab know differently: This is an animal whose appearance belies its significance to mankind, and is worthy of not only respect but also our thanks.

The Nature Conservancy hopes that as more people get outside, they’ll become avid environmentalists

By Lynn R. Parks  |  Photograph by Carolyn Watson
From the April 2018 issue

Feature-Nature-ConservancyAll four of the students who participated in last summer’s Leaders for Environmental Action for the Future program, sponsored by the Delaware chapter of The Nature Conservancy, were from the city: Keeley Duffy, Julia Lee and Jennifer Pizano attend the Conrad Schools of Science near Wilmington; Oni Snead, the one intern from out of state, is a student at W.B. Saul High School in Philadelphia.

LEAF is intended for exactly this kind of student: those who are interested in environmental science but, because they live in urban areas, have few opportunities to work outside. And the program gives them that opportunity. Last summer, the interns’ activities included mulching trails at The Nature Conservancy’s Edward H. McCabe Nature Preserve near Milton, digging up invasive plants

in the new wildflower meadow there and helping to stock oyster cages maintained by the Center for the Inland Bays.

Keeley, who is 17 and intends to become a history teacher, says that even before her internship, she had an appreciation of nature. “I have always believed that nature is a beautiful thing and that we should take care of it before we destroy the ecosystems around us,” she says.

Her work with the LEAF program reinforced that notion. She learned about saltwater intrusion, which is being exacerbated by sea level rise, and about invasive plants that move in and that make it hard for native species to survive. This knowledge “made me very disappointed about how we are treating our land and how much more we could be doing to fix things that could have been [fixed] years ago,” she says.