Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Federal grant will support restoration at the Indian River Life-Saving Station
REHOBOTH BEACH (Aug. 19, 2015) – The Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum, located in Delaware Seashore State Park, has been awarded a grant of just over $25,000 through the Maritime Heritage Grants Program of the National Park Service. The Indian River Life-Saving Station, one of the oldest U.S lifesaving stations still standing, was the only Delaware recipient of the grant.
The Life-Saving Station has been meticulously restored to its 1905 appearance, complete with diamond-shaped trim. The station was built in 1876 for use by the United States Life-Saving Service, a government organization created to respond to the alarming number of shipwrecks along the coastlines of the U.S. Members of the U.S. Life-Saving Service were known as “surfmen.”
The building was originally located 400 feet closer to the shore, but a sand dune began to form around it almost as soon as it was finished. It was moved to its present location in 1877. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The grant funds will be used to support three projects:
1. Building a reproduction of the U.S.Life-Saving Service beach cart. The beach cart was an essential piece of equipment used from the 1870s through the mid-20th century that helped surfmen transport rescue materials from the station to the site of a shipwreck.
“Although we are lucky to have artifacts including a breeches buoy, Lyle gun, surfboat and others, the beach cart has always been a ‘missing piece’ of sorts,” said Indian River Life-Saving Station Interpretive Site Manager Laura Scharle. “By having a beach cart, our boat room exhibit will feel complete.”
2. The grant funds ($25,119) will also be used to restore the 1914 Stieff upright piano that is currently located in the Keeper’s Office exhibit. The piano was donated by surfman Harry Frazer’s granddaughter, Beebe. The elder Frazer bought the piano in 1914 when he was stationed at Indian River. When the station was restored in 1998, Beebe Frazier donated it to its original home.
“The piano is the only artifact in the museum that we know is original to our station,” said Scharle.
3. The third project to be funded by the grant is restoration of the flag tower located in the parking lot. Once the flag tower is restored, Scharle says the plan is to display flags of the International Signal Code.
The project was financed in part with federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, for preservation of historic maritime resources and for increasing public awareness and appreciation for the maritime heritage of the nation.
Vol. 45, No. 272