The Fountain of Youth – Lewes, Delaware - Atlas Obscura

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The Fountain of Youth

What if the Fountain of Youth was actually found in Delaware? One historic coastal town believes it to be true. 


Is it possible that Ponce de León was just looking in the wrong spot? The explorer famously (and apocryphally) searched Florida for the famed Fountain of Youth, but maybe it was just there the whole time in Lewes, Delaware, hiding in plain sight in a well-marked location. His loss is your gain, as the Fountain of Youth can be seen through a quick walk from the center of town.

This little roadside well may have a big history. No one is sure when the original wellspring was built, but some local legends date it to the founding of Lewes in 1631. In that case, the history runs back a long way indeed, as Lewes was the first European settlement in Delaware. Originally settled by the Dutch and named Zwaanendael, Lewes would be renamed by William Penn in 1682.

The Fountain of Youth as it currently appears was built in 1937 by the Lewes Chamber of Commerce as a homecoming commemoration. A sign on the fountain at the time, now lost to history, reads, “Ye Olde Fountain of Youth. ‘Tis said this spring contains the magic elixir of youth and longevity and that whoever drinks therefrom is impelled to return again.”

The Fountain of Youth would become a fountain of muck and pond scum over the years. However, the Colonel David Hall Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, owners of the historic Maull House since 1959, maintained an interest in the Fountain of Youth, which is located across the street on this historic property. In 2019, NSDAR member Patti Haas, along with her husband Ted, repainted the gazebo and cleaned out more than two feet of detritus from the well, which began to once again produce water from its spring.

Visitors interested in drinking from the Fountain of Youth should be aware of two things. First, please do not drink from the Fountain of Youth, that’s disgusting. But second, should you dare, you should be aware that the powers are only activated by someone drinking from a leftward-spiral conch shell. Although there used to be a shell chained to the gazebo, over the years, too many enterprising vandals ran off with the conch as a souvenir. Today, you should be prepared to bring your own conch shell cup. If that sounds like a difficult task, at least you can be thankful that the people of Lewes have made the search for the Fountain of Youth that much easier.

Know Before You Go

The Fountain of Youth is located on the canal side of the historic Maull House property, located at 536 Pilottown Road. Please contact the Colonel David Hall Chapter NSDAR for more information about the Fountain or the Maull House itself.

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