Since 1974, the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society has operated the Anna Hazzard Tent House as a museum that houses a collection of smaller Rehoboth Beach memorabilia and artifacts. This building is one of the original “tent” houses from the turn-of-the-century “Camp Meeting” religious gatherings in Rehoboth.
This building was initially one of several structures that comprised a “Camp meeting Area” located on Baltimore Avenue, here in Rehoboth Beach, 90 years ago. It was built in 1895 for use as housing during “camp meetings” (religious meetings) and is assumed to have originally consisted of two rooms and a porch, at ground level, plus two small rooms on a second floor. (However, through the years, it underwent some alterations that changed its appearance somewhat.) The camp meeting, of which this was a part, is generally referred to as the “Second Camp meeting” to differentiate between it and the original camp meeting associated with Rehoboth Beach’s beginnings (the original camp meeting site was in the grove near the bridge over today’s Lewes and Rehoboth Canal. Annual meetings at this site were discontinued in 1881).
On July 6, 1895, it was announced that Methodist camp meetings would be resumed in mid-August but at a new site on Baltimore Avenue near Second Street (about a block from today’s Rehoboth Beach post office). The Rev. Richard H. Adams, then presiding elder of the Dover District of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was designated to have charge of this camp meeting.
Several wooden structures (called “tents”) and a pavilion were hurriedly constructed. Included was this building, which became the property of Rev. Adams. It was apparently used by Rev. Adams and members of his family during the camp meeting that began on Aug. 17, 1895.
It later became the property of W. Harry White, one of the area’s first real estate brokers, who, after making some improvements, including the addition of a kitchen, converted it into a rental property.
On Feb. 18, 1927, White conveyed the property to his niece, Anna S. Hazzard, who subsequently became the area’s first female real estate broker and a civic leader. Miss Hazzard continued to rent out this and other Baltimore Avenue properties until her death on Feb. 9, 1968, at the age of 90. Miss Annie’s will provided that her sister, Miss Penelope Hazzard, should have a lifetime right to the income from the Baltimore Avenue properties.
Upon Miss Penelope Hazzard’s death, the latter properties, in accordance with Miss Annie’s will, went to Mrs. Gladys James and her husband, Ronald (Miss Annie, who had taken an interest in Mrs. James, when the latter was a young girl, went to live with the James’ in early 1967 after sustaining a broken hip in a fall.)
In 1975, after the then comparatively new Rehoboth Beach Historical Society was unsuccessful in efforts to acquire another old property, the then mayor, Miriam E. Howard, contacted the James’ relative to the possibility of their donating this structure to the City of Rehoboth Beach. The James’ subsequently agreed to donate the building to the city providing the latter would move it from its then Baltimore Avenue site and arrange for its eventual conversion into a museum.
The then Rehoboth Beach Bicentennial Committee, chaired by the late William Greiner, agreed to have the house moved and restored with the understanding that the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society would operate it as a museum. The house was moved in December of 1975 to the city-owned Martin’s Lawn, and after undergoing restoration of its interior, was dedicated on October 10, 1976, as the Anna S. Hazzard Memorial Museum.
The museum opened for its first regular season on Memorial Day 1977 and has since developed into one of the resort’s tourist attractions, having particular appeal to those interested in the history of Delaware’s coastal area. Included in the displayed materials are artifacts, documents and other memorabilia collected by the 1973 Rehoboth Beach Centennial Commission and by that organization’s successor, the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society.
The Anna Hazzard Museum is currently open only for tours and events.