Milford Museum Holds Grand Opening for “Dry Spell”

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By Terry Rogers

On Friday, February 27, the Milford Museum held a tasting event to kick off their new exhibit “Dry Spell: The Prohibition Experience in Milford.” The exhibit details the rise of the Temperance Movement that led to the passage of the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the United States.

“The directors of some of the Sussex County museums work together to promote our towns,” said Claudia Leister, Executive Director of the Milford Museum. “We decided to try and share exhibits especially after all of the work that goes into them. The Milton Museum created their version of “Dry Spell” last year. This year, we borrowed some of their objects and added some of our own to personalize this interesting Delaware story.”

Lauren Bigelow, Sales and Marketing Director at Mispillion River Brewing, offered tastings of their porter as well as cans of two different brews available at the brewery. Guests were able to  view the exhibit and learn more about the years that made phrases like “bathtub gin” and “for medicinal purposes” popular.

Photo Taken By Terry Rogers

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After the event at the museum, Milford Tavern, located on Walnut Street in downtown Milford, continued the celebration with a “tap takeover” by Mispillion Brewing Company. Four beer taps were switched to contain only Mispillion’s beers.

“It worked out great with the museum event tonight since it is right across the street,” said Mary Chandler of Milford Tavern. “When you can support other businesses in Milford, it is a great thing. We have had a great response when we put one of Mispillion’s beers on tap so we knew the tap takeover would be a great event. We have an excellent customer base here and they are very supportive of some of the changes we have made at Milford Tavern.”

According to Claudia Leister, Executive Director of the Milford Museum, the temperance movement in the United States developed because people thought personal and social problems related to alcohol could be eliminated if the sale of the product was outlawed. The 18th Amendment forbid the sale, manufacture or delivery of any alcoholic products, although people were permitted to make their own, which is where the term “bathtub gin” developed. In addition, doctors were permitted to prescribe alcohol as treatment for many illnesses, creating the term “for medicinal purposes.”

The probation exhibit at Milford Museum will run through November 2015. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am until 3:30pm and on Sunday from 1pm until 3:30 PM. Admission is free and group tours can be arranged by calling 302-424-1080.